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May 09, 2003 - Image 34

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-05-09

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Preserving Israel's Security

Tel Aviv/JTA
fifty-five years is not a very
long time in historical
terms — especially when
talking about a people who
have been around for thousands of
years. But the balance sheet of those
55 years certainly has been impres-
Not everything went the way our
founding fathers had hoped for.
They believed in peace, but Israel
was invaded by seven Arab armies
the day it was founded, and there
have been six wars since then — the
latest being Yasser Arafat's "Al-Aksa
The basic reason for all those wars
was that the Arab world refused to
recognize the Jewish people's right to
a national homeland in an area they
consider to be exclusively their own.
But as we look back, the drama of
the Jewish people has made the
rebirth of the State of Israel, in spite
of all the obstacles, an epic poem
without precedent or comparison in
the annals of history.
Some things were obviously lost
on the way, though not altogether
— the spirit of egalitarianism, for
instance. And some would say that
there is insufficient concern these


Zalman Shoval was twice Israel's
ambassador to the United States, from
1990-1993 and 1998-2000. He is a
former Likud Member of Knesset and
now serves as a part-time diplomatic
adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.


days for social justice, though others
would reply, correctly, that Israel
allocates proportionately more for
social and welfare payments than
any other country in the West. So,
why are there still so many poor
Which brings me to the first chal-
lenge that Israel faces on its 55th
anniversary: how to reform its econ-
omy and do away with its historical
and often politically motivated "bag-
gage" of bureaucracy — so as to
make the economy grow while also
improving the lot of the underprivi-
Finance Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu is currently trying to do
just that. But his — actually our —
chances of success will depend, first,
on the determination of the govern-
ment as a whole to overcome the
opposition of vested interests and,
second, on two factors that are large-
ly beyond our control: ending the
international economic recession and
changing the political and security
America's important victory in Iraq
has removed a major threat to the
peace of the world — not least, of
course, to Israel. But major parts of
the Palestinian national movement
still are an integral part of the inter-
national brotherhood of evil and
If, indeed, the United States will
pursue President Bush's declared aim
of fighting all those who engage in
or support terror, the Middle East

Instilling Democratic Pluralism

he major overall challenge
we face today is that of
returning to the ideals of a
democratic pluralistic Jewish
state that found its expression in the
noble words of Israel's Declaration of
What its authors envisaged was a
state in which all citizens would enjoy
equality of status and of rights, irre-
spective of race, religion or sex.
Unfortunately, not only has this
idyllic condition never yet been
attained; on the contrary, it seems to
be even further from reality.



5/ 9


Alice Shalvi, a feminist activist and
educator, was born in Germany in 1926
and educated in England from 1934 to
1949. She has lived and worked in
Jerusalem ever since.

Today's Israel is a place where econom-
ic and social gaps widen, hostility
between different ethnic groups increas-
es, and new fissures appear, for example,
between "native" Israelis and foreign
workers, Jewish citizens and non-Jewish
immigrants, the haves and the have-nots.
The need to educate all Israeli citi-
zens and residents in the basic princi-
ples of democracy and pluralism, in
the Jewish tradition of "Love your
neighbor as yourself," is paramount.
The challenge is to find appropriate
means of inculcating these principles.
Development of formal and infor-
mal frameworks, as well as develop-
ment of a cadre of leaders who will,
both by precept and example, help to
put good intentions into effect —
these are vital to our future.
Given the current dismal state of our
economy, another challenge is how to

Palestinian statehood unless
the Palestinians abandon
once and for all the "right of
return" — another term for
Deeds, Not Talk
annihilating Israel by flood-
ing it with hundreds of
There is a lot of talk these
thousands of "refugees."
days about the "road map.
All of the above aren't just
Will it work? Won't it work?
political preconditions; they
It's too early to tell.
are natural prerequisites to
At the heart of the road
give the road map any realis-
map lies the expectation that
At 55
tic chance of success.
in a few short years from
The United States and Israel
now, there would arise a
have the same strategic interests and
"democratic, viable Palestinian state
the same aims, though there could be
living in peace alongside Israel." But
differing attitudes on one or more
what if it will turn out to be just
issues. Considering the vast amount of
another undemocratic, brutal,
mutual goodwill and the understand-
aggressive rogue state like so many
ing that Israel enjoys with so much of
others in the region?
Indeed, one of Israel's most urgent America, not least the national admin-
istration and Congress, such differ-
diplomatic and strategic challenges
ences should not be allowed to devel-
will be to persuade America that,
op into unnecessary and unhelpful dis-
while Israel is willing to make major
sacrifices for peace, it will never
Indeed, the close ties between the
agree to endanger the physical secu-
rity of its citizens or compromise the United States and Israel are an
important American strategic inter-
2,000-year-old dream of the Jewish
est as well — especially in light of
In other words, before there can be the unstable internal situation in
some of America's traditional Arab
any movement on the road map,
there will have to be a real change in
All said, and in spite of the fact
the Palestinian leadership. New
that the chances for peace may be
names are not enough. New deeds
more propitious than they have been
are required.
And there must be an absolute end since before the "Oslo debacle,"
Israel's security for a long time to
— "forever," as Bush has said — to
come will still depend on its ability
Palestinian terror, violence and
to defend itself and on its close
strategic alliance with the United
No less important, Israel should
States. ❑
not be required to agree to

may actually become a less-
dangerous neighborhood.


started again, based on a readi-
restore the ideal of Avodah Ivrii
ness to make major sacrifices.
Jewish labor, which used to be
And apropos the land: We
the pride of the yishuv, Israel's
to relate urgently and
pre-state society.
seriously to the increased pol-
This means structural change
lution of our soil, our water
in the economy — decent wages
and our air.
and working conditions for all,
There is much to do. The
development of public projects
time is short. We have to band
that will provide employment
together to ensure that the next
(as the WPA did in the United
55 years see progress, rather than
States in the 1930s), good voca-
Is rael
tional training and re-training
At 55
We need honest, dedicated,
— and a greater degree of social
- selfless leadership — and we
justice in determining the salary
need far more women in positions of
levels of senior executives and govern-
decision-making and the determina-
ment employees in the public sector.
tion of policy. We need an end to male
Economic prosperity will not be
domination based on military prowess.
restored until we make significant cuts in
As for the Jewishness of the Jewish
expenditures on military equipment, on
state: We need equal status and rights
settlements across the Green Line and
for all streams of Judaism and an
on the construction of the bypass roads
increase in Jewish education even for
and tunnels that serve the settler popula-
those who are not religiously observant.
tion and increasingly deface what is left •
Those are the challenges. Now to
of Israel's "green and pleasant land."
work! [1]
The peace process must be jump-

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