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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 26, 2013 PAGE 5A HERITAGE encourages readers to send in their opinions for the Viewpoint column. They must be signed; how- ever, names will be withheld upon request. Due to space limitations, we reserve the right to edit, if necessary. Opinions printed in Viewpoint do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the paper. Discovering my Jewish identity through Israel By sara Hoffen Israel used to be just an- other picture in a textbook. It was another set of dates, another long list of names, another world. It was a pho- tograph that was immensely important yet one could never understand why. Until I spent three weeks diving into Israeli culture through a BBYO sum- mer program called Passport. Israel was simply a distant place one I had not im- mersed myself in as I had in Florida, my home.. I traveled through BBYO with 44 other teens from 16 different states and Canada. This trip opened my eyes to new perspectives foods. cultures, people. It allowed me to see the differences as well as the similarities in our lives. It depicted how tradi- tions shaped current lifestyles and practices. But mostly, this i, 1S nO By Kenneth Bandler JNS.org The two-state premise for resolving the Israeli-Palestin- Jan conflict goes back tor the very foundation of the State of Israel. The United Nations Partition Plan of 1947 divided British-ruled Mandatory Pal- estine into two separate enti- ties. one Jewish, one Arab. The plan recognized that the land between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea must be shared, a principle at the core of current efforts to achieve, through bilateral negotiations, a permanent peace based on two states for two peoples. Even though many Zionists had originally sought Jewish sovereignty over the entire land. David Ben-Gurionwisely acceded to the compromise, recognizing the chance to ful- fill the Zionist vision of a Jew- ish state in the Land of Israel. Tragically for the Palestinian people, their leaders and the Arab world at large objected to the very idea of a Jewish state within any borders, and opted for war against the Jews to abort partition. The Arab defeat doomed the Palesfinian half of the two-state plan. Two Arab states went further to snuff out that vision, as Egypt occupied Gaza and Jordan an- nexed the West Bank. Israel's dramatic victory in June -1967 against Arab countries intent on destroy- ing it left Israel in control of Sinai. Gaza. the Golan Heights, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. While there were those who vocally urged maintaining control over all of the land for historical, re- ligious and security reasons. the Israeli mainstream never relished ruling over another people. Israeli governments, Labor and Likud. have sought partners to negotiate peace agreements that would entail territorial compromise. Israel concluded such a deal with Egypt's Anwar journey impacted my Jewish identity. My three-week trek through the Jewish homeland began with Jerusalem. The 45 of us planted ourselves before the Western Wall, a structure our ancestors fought for 2,000 years ago. We pressed our palms against the stone, feel- ing the pain, joy and anger of our ancestors tracing through our fingers. One can study "the wall and the wars that went into preserving it, the persecu- tions arid the triumphs. But touching the wall with our bare hands, standing in the same place our people stood in for years, sliding our wishes and thoughts into the cracks of the wall. and chanting the prayers alongside hundreds of others from all over the world stirs a sense of pride within us. We are proud that we have managed to cling to our customs despit~ persecution. We h~ve been beaten down yet Sadat in 1979. restoring the Sinai to Egyptian sovereignty. Another historic peace treaty was reached with Jordan's King Hussein in 1994. but Jordan had relinquished any claim to the West Bank and declared that the future of East Jerusalem. including the holy Muslim sites in the Old City, would be up to the Palestinians. The 1993 Oslo Accords. a product of direct bilateral negotiations,were signedwith the noble intention of eventu- ally creating a Palestinian entity that would live in peace with Israel. But, as with the U.N. two-state plan, imple- mentation required visionary, courageous, determined lead- ers on both sides. RegretLably, Palestinian leadership has -consistently fallen short, but Israelis who still hold on to the pipedream of a greater Israel have also made the search for peace more difficult. While Prime Minister Yit- zhak Rabin's assassination we still stand strong. The wall represents our faith in not only God, but in ourselves as a community. I visited several incredible sights: Rosh Hanikra, the slippery grottos with power- ful blue waters slapping the rocks and sending a cool breeze through my hair. The Golan Heights, which spilled clear water across red rocks and glistening grass. The Kinneret, with its calming waves soothing my skin. The Dead Sea, burning as it healed my wounds. The Bedouin tents, with cam- els and donkeys trampling across the surrounding sandy terrain and sweet tea warming my throat. The Negev, dry mountains dot- ting the desert and a large orange sun heating all its inhabitants. Each was too beautiful to be real, too fresh to be authentic. Every single breathtaking view squeezed into Israel, our country. by an Israeli extremist surely set" up an obstacle to the peace process. Yasser Arafat's decision to revert to terror- ism. refusal to recognize the Jewish people's link to any part of the land, and failure to nurture a culture of peace among his own people had a far more serious long-term impact. Still, the elusive goal of two states, never completely abandoned, remains the best option for permanent peace. Four consecutive prime min- isters of Israel Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmertand Binyamin Netanyahu--have openby committed them,selves to it. In his historic 2009 Bar- Ilan University address, Netan- yahu declared, "In my vision of peace, there are two free peoples living side by side in this small land. with good neighborly relations and mutual respect, each with its flag, anthem and government, with neither one threatening its neighbor's security and existence." However, what makes Israel stand out among other coun- tries is its willingness to help others. Israel takes Jews in from other countries so that they may practice Judaism freely. For instance, "Save a Child's Heart" provides heart surgery and a temporary home for ill children in devel- oping countries, even includ- ing children from places Israel is not on peaceful terms with. Their love for one another strengthens the community and the country. My Jewish identity has been influenced by all of these col- orful experiences. It has been impacted by the brown desert, which our ancestors trudged through thousands of years ago. It has been sculpted by the crystal blue waters, washing knowledge over my head. It has been influenced by green vegetation, the abundance of plants and trees reminding me of the many beautiful traditions I must carry on, As Netanyahu says fre- quently, the alternative to territorial compromise, a binational state, would be the death knell of Zionism and of Israel, since incorporating so many Arabs into the Israeli polity would destroy the coun- try's Jewish character. True, each of Israel's gener- ous offers for peace--at Camp David in 2000, Taba in 2001, and Jerusalem in 2008--were spurned by the Palestinian leadership. The Hamas coup in Gaza in 2007 and PA President Mahmoud Abbas's resistance to resuming talks since he walked away from them four years.ago are additional chal- lenges to Israel's efforts--and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's initiative--to get the peace process back on track. Yet there is no viable al- ternative to direct Israeli- Palestinian negotiations, and the longer they are put off the more world public opinion views Israel, erroneously, as the obstacle to peace. When planting and replanting them in my descendants' lives. Orange is the color of our arms tanned from the sun and wrapped around each other, creating a tight com- munity, Most importantly, the silver starswatch over us every night whether we are in Israel or Florida or New York, guiding our paths with their optimistic twinkles. Despite ourdifferent lifestyles, wewill all look at those same silver stars as one people, one Jew- ish people. Sara Hoffen is a junior at Lake Mary High School. She plays the flute within her school's marching band. Sara has a passion for volunteering and believes in the power of music for bringing people together. She aspires to start a Jewish Service Teen Corps in Orlando to bring music to hospitalsandnursing homes. Sara is involved with USY and BBYO and was an active participant in J-Serve 2013. the Palestinians do return to the table, the Israeli govern- ment will work out the details with them: secure borders, ap- propriate land swaps to ensure that the main settlement blocs are in Israel, a demilitarized Palestinian state, and an end to the conflict. Given the risks Israel faces, consideration for what happens the day after any peace agreement is Signedwill be critical to its successful implementation. Achieving peace is a stra- tegic objective for Israel. American Jews should sup- port the Israeli government's determined efforts to reach a two-state solution. That will require genuine, committed partners, and finding them-- especially now with chaos spreading in neighboring Arab countries--may be dif- ficult. But abandoning hope would be the greatest tragedy. Kenneth Bandler is direc- tor of media relations for the American Jewish Committee (AJC). By Morton A. Klein JNS.org We all want the Arab war against Israel to be finally resolved.'B~ is establishing a Palestinian state the answer? Not when t'he Palestinians' _ goal is Israel's destruction, as opposed to a Palestinian state living in peace with Israel. " Every opportunity the Pales- tinians had to establish a state was rejected because it meant accepting Israel. The offers they rejected included: a 1937 Peel Commission proposal of a state on 95 percent of territory what is today all of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza; in 1947 a division of the land into Jewish andArab states (U.N. Resolution 181); in 2000 the offer of 97 percent of the West Bank, all of Gaza. and eastern Jerusalem made by U.S. President Bill Clinton and endorsed by Prime Minister Ehud Barak; and in 2008 an offer of 98 percent of the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem, and billions in aid from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. These rejections clearly and painfully show that statehood is not the Palestinians' goal. American Jews understand this. A recent American Jew- ish Committee poll shows that 76 percent of U.S. Jews believe the Palestinians' goal is Israel's destruction, and only 38 percent support a s~te. The president of the Palestin- ian Authority (PA)~ Mahmoud Abbas. makes his hatred toward Jews and the Jewish state clear. He and other PA officials pro- claim the racist, anti-Semitic statement that no Jews will be permitted to live in a Palestin- ian state, and that he "do(es) not accept a Jewish state: call it what you will." In a U.N. speech he condemned Israel for "63 years of occupation," meaning all of Israel is illegal, and called Israel the "land of Mohammed and Jesus," denying its Jewish connection. His official emblem shows all of Israel with an Arab headdress over it next to a Kaly- shnakov rifle. In the New York Times, Abbas openly wrote that a Pal- estinian state will not lead to peace, but will "international- ize the conflict as a legal mat- ter.., paving the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the U.N. Human Rights Treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice." Only this week, Abbas said he has made "no concessions" and still demands that the 1967 "Aus- chwitz" lines as they have been called by Israeli Minister of Tourism Uzi Landau--be accepted (with minor changes) and that millions of so-caUed "refugees" be allowed to move into Israel. which would end Israel as a Jewish state. Are Abbas and the PA pres- ently acting as a democracy creating a civilized, peace- loving society? No. Abbas is a dictator who has not allowed elections for almost nine years. He promotes hate education against Jews and Israel in their media, schools and speeches-- such as PATVrecently showing Arab children calling Jews "most evil among creations, barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs"; doesn't arrest terrorists; doesn't stop demanding that Israel release terrorists; doesn't end relations with Hamas; glorifies terrorists and names schools, streets, and sports teams after Jew-killing terror- ists; and continues his massive and relentless delegitimization and demonization of Israel. " We also need to understand that a sovereign state doesn't necessarily create a civil and peace-loving society--it only strengthens the ability of the underlying culture to promote its agenda. Iran, Libya, North Korea, Egypt and Syria are sovereign states. Are t[~ey lovely and peaceful? There is also no demographic issue for Israel if a Palestinian state is not created, since Is- rael has already given away 42 percent of the West Bank and all of Gaza, where 99 percent of all Palestinians live. Therefore, Palestinians are no longer un- der Israeli rule, except when it comes to some security issues, and Israel can maintain its Jewish character without the creation of a Palestinian state. Additionally, if Abbas is act- ing this way now, when he still has concessions to demand, how will he act when he runs a Palestinian state with no more concessions to demand? No wonder Prime Minister Ben- jamin Netanyahu said in fin interview last week that Israel is worried "a Palestinian state will be another Iranian client state that is committed to odr destruction," a state that"arms itself with missiles and rockets." Remember, Netanyahu said that after Israel left Gaza "and tore up the settlements," the conflict continued. No wonder Defense Minister M0sheYa'alon said, "There are those who are trying to market Abbas as rela- tively moderate, but his goals are the same as Hamas." Under prevailing conditions, not only would a Palestinian state not bring peace, but Israel would also be truly endangered. No remotely stable and peaceful Palestinian state is even possible when rivals Fatah and Hamas control the West Bank and Gaza, peace respectively. Hamas might one day topple the Fatah/PA in the West Bank, just as it did in Gaza in 2007. Jerusalem, Ben Gurion airportand 70 percentofIsrael's population would be placed in rocket, mortar and rifle range of Palestinian terrorists, as is the case for Israel! territory adjacent to Hamas-controlled Peace on page 15A BJR0Pe HA5 PROBLEM W rH IMP0RTtlqG .... EU2OPE BOYCOTT tl o0s tN N I PR ;ONS l I eAP4GLADESHI A o, 0LI POLITICALCARTOON $,COM DRYBONES.COM I HOMES IN THEIR I "EM2OPE5 I ANCIEII" ,TEVVI [ OF MORALITY//