Israel has a new President. For a few hours I was actually excited about the race (when it looked like Meir Sheetrit, might win). Not that I thought he was especially qualified, or would be able to compare to Shimon Peres, but simply because many years ago I had worked closely with him and liked him … and I imagined it has to be nice to have a President who you know and like. Though instead we have Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin, a stalwart of the Likud party. Rivlin comes from the the old-guard traditions of Jabotinsky. He is a strong believer in civil rights., However, Rivlin is also a believer in ”Eretz Yisrael Hashleima”- the right of Jewish sovereignty over the complete land of Israel. What is clear is that Rivlin will not be able to be the one who is sent into the world as “the moderate Israeli”.
The annual Herzliya Conference on Security has been held here over the course of the past two days. Without going into details of what everyone said, one thing stood out – i.e. the fact that the members of the same government have views that are completely contradictory.
A few days ago I was reminded exactly how impossible our situation is. I went to Tel Aviv University for a lecture. After which, I waited for a bus on the far side of the University. The road is on a high hill that overlooks those areas to the east. The sun was setting in the west and reflecting off the tableau of tall buildings seen on the eastern horizon. On one hand, I thought wow what would the earliest Zionist have thought? I was not even looking at downtown Tel Aviv. Rather, I looked out towards its suburbs and some of the suburban office parks off into the distance of the Tel Aviv metro area – where the largest concentration of Jews in the world live (there are 3.5 million of us here.)
Then as I strained to see into the distance through the haze the hills of the Shomron, (or the West Bank), were clearly visible. Most of the time I am desperate for us to find a way to separate from these areas. Yet looking at those hills – hills that clearly overlook the city that I love and so many of us live in – I wonder how can we allow potentially hostile forces to be there again? I wish I had an answer. I wish there was a clear solution. Events of the past few weeks have shown how corrosive the occupation can be. Our government has shown that it looks for excuses to isolate us. I certainly do not have any qualms about partitioning the land, the land is not holy to me, but the people of Israel are. And yet, how can we be sure that no hostile force is ever sitting on those hills. I know missiles from Lebanon can already reach Tel Aviv? But...