June 21, 2009 Iran Week Two

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

June 28, 2009 Reflections on a Saturday in Israel.

This is the second year in a row that I am spending significant time in Tel Aviv (after spending most of my time in Israel, whether living or visiting in Jerusalem). I must say, the city is growing on me very quickly. So on Saturday afternoon, when in Jerusalem Ultra-Orthodox demonstrators by the thousands, could engage in a very "Shabbat-appropriate" activity of battling with police about the opening of a parking garage on a holy day. Fifty miles away, in perfect weather, I can lay on beach, a block from my apartment, surrounded by Israelis who were spending Shabbat the way they know how... to by relaxing on a beach. The Charedi demonstrations seem to be serious, with today’s Israeli newspapers writing about the possibility that one of the religious parties could leave the government over the issue of the parking lot and additional instigators being arrested today by police.

I was struck over Shabbat by a couple of newspaper articles I read. First, on the exceedingly uplifting side, son of Ilan Ramon, the Israeli astronaut killed in the Space shuttle tragedy, graduated from pilot’s school last week. Assaf Ramon graduated number one in his class.

The other two stories appeared and they were back to back in the Jerusalem Post. The second article questioned why Israelis were not more excited by the events and changes taking place in the Middle East? It further questioned why THEY were not willing to make changes, not filling Rabin square demonstrating for change? The article that appeared on the page before answered these very questions. The article debunked the theory that has seemed to be popular recently, that Jews were traumatized by the Holocaust, and thus are unable to take risks for peace. Instead, the article posited that its not the holocaust, but rather the bombings during the second intifada, the rockets from Lebanon and rockets from Gaza that have affected Israelis. They have made most Israelis very cynical about the Arabs ever really wanting peace.

It’s actually very hard to read a headline quoting former British Prime Minster Tony Blair, who states that if only Israelis have the will, peace can be achieved. That is a statement, like too many by today’s politicians, that ignores almost 100 years of History. Benny Morris has recently published a very depressing book called One State, Two States (2009), which I will review in the next few days, but the essence of the book is that, the Palestinians have never really agreed to the two state solution; a solution that includes one Arab and one Jewish state. Their position has been almost unbending for the last 80 years and therefore, the prospects for peace are dim.

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