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66http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2011/09/Rabbi-Lyon%27s-Blog---09_23_2011
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 09_23_2011
09/22/2011 10:31 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
September 23, 2011

 

Less than a week from now, we will be gathering for Rosh Hashanah and wishing each other a happy New Year 5772. It’s an ideal we wish for each other; we’re quite sincere and hopeful about it. Naturally, there are extenuating circumstances that get in our way. Not the least of which is what is happening in the Middle East.

                Writing this piece a day before the vote in the UN on the matter of a Palestinian state doesn’t make it easier for me to comment, but it doesn’t prevent me, either. There is no question in my mind that the vote is an unnecessary and complicating strategy. While no one disagrees that negotiations for peace could be going better (when have they truly gone well?), bringing the issue to the UN, rather than directly to opposing sides, is simply wrong.

                I listened to portions of the President Obama’s speech to the UN in the time that I had in the car. It was compelling in some ways and disappointing in others. While I listened carefully for inspiring and hopeful sound bytes, I must admit that there was one sound byte I truly wanted the UN and the world to hear from our President; but I didn’t hear it. I don’t believe he said it. In addition to expectations that Palestinians and Israelis deserve to build a future founded on important and particular principles dear to each respective people, the Israelis have been denied by the radical factions in Palestinian leadership the very right to exist. Enough banter and diplomatic-speak; it is time to tell the Palestinian radical leaders that they must eliminate the annihilation of Israel from their speeches and plans. Why can’t our President say it? It should be a game-stopper in any expectation that the UN and the world will ever work with Palestinian negotiators. And, though Netanyahu has been tougher than necessary in some areas of negotiation, why should he let down his guard and his people’s security if his negotiating partners want nothing less than the destruction of Israel?

                First things first. We should identify as radicals any person or group that denies Israel the right to exist. Measure your neighbors and your co-workers against this standard. There are many roads to peace and the U.S. and Israel have described many over the years. But, no one in their right mind has ever described a solution that is predicated on the destruction of Israel. So, when you ask your neighbor or your co-worker if they believe that Israel should be destroyed, let it serve as a common denominator that either puts you and them on the same heading towards peace, or it doesn’t. It could be the beginning of deep conversations about the myths and facts on the Middle East. Many people believe they understand the sentimental cause conveyed by the Palestinian leadership, but they don’t understand its more sinister underpinnings.

                Second, Israel and the Jewish people will live. Even a simple song is fundamental to our hope for peace with our enemies. We purposely and thoughtfully learn to sing songs like “Od Yavo Shalom Aleinu,” We Don’t have Peace Yet (loosely translated) which includes the words for peace, Shalom and Salaam, in Hebrew and Arabic, respectively. Our children sing the hopes of both peoples. But, we also sing, “Am Yisrael Chai” the people of Israel lives. I don’t expect our enemies in the world to sing with us, but they should know that we will never stop singing it for ourselves.

                Finally, as the New Year comes, I will be speaking on Erev Rosh Hashanah about the Middle East situation and our congregation vis-à-vis Israel. There is never a last word but there is always more to say on the subject. Let’s include in our prayers this year a hope for Israel’s peaceful future and for the reasonable minds that our world desperately needs for the confidence, security and goodness we want to share with everyone in the New Year 5772.

                From my family to yours, Shabbat Shalom.

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