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by Lawrence Bush “Rabbi Simeon ben Eleazar said: If young people say to you, ‘Build the Temple,’ do not heed them. But if elders say to you, ‘Destroy the Temple,’ heed them. For building done by young people may be equivalent to destruction, while the destruction done by old people is equivalent to building.” (Megillah 31b) Interpretive hint: the Temple, today = Greater Israel WHEN YOU “MOW THE GRASS,” as several Israeli makhers heartlessly referred to the killing of more than 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza just a few months ago, small creatures will occasionally startle you by hopping or slithering across the path of your machine. So now there’s been a multiple murder in a Jerusalem synagogue, which Netanyahu attributes to Abbas’ “incitement” — as though his own massive bombing of Gaza, and his continued settlement-building, and his refusal to give hope to the Palestinian people for anything but a future of occupation and “lawn-trimming,” weren’t incitement enough. And now the American Jewish organizations are sending out their mournful and enraged press releases, calling the incident “beyond the pale of modern civilization” (American Jewish Congress), etc., because the attack took place in a house of worship, with a meat cleaver. Ahh, so bedrooms, kitchens, and schoolhouses are now within the pale of modern civilized warfare, but not synagogues? (Some 70 or more mosques were reported destroyed in Gaza during the fifty-one days of war.) And precision bombs are okay, but not meat cleavers? MEANWHILE, NETANYAHU IS STILL IGNORING the open letter signed by more than 100 retired high-ranking authorities of Israel’s military and intelligence services early this month, which urged him to enter regional peace negotiations based on the groundbreaking Saudi-Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 — a peace offer that strongly resembles the “Green Line” peace plans of yesteryear, only this one is endorsed by twenty-two Arab states! — which Israel has been virtually ignoring for a dozen years. “I was hoping that once Operation Protective Edge was finished, the premier would launch some kind of political process,” said Major-General Amnon Reshef, who initiated the letter. “This never came to be, there was no positive reaction. What I did see, however, was the expansion of Jewish settlements in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, all manner of delusional thoughts on building in the West Bank and authorization of illegal settlements. This trend upset me deeply.” Here’s what their letter said:
Dear Prime Minister, We, the undersigned, are IDF commanders and police officers in the reserves that have fought in Israel’s wars. We know from experience the heavy and painful price exacted by these wars; we fought powerfully for the State in the hope that our children would live here in peace. But the reality is that we are again sending our children to the battlefields, watching them don uniforms and bulletproof vests to fight in Operation Protective Edge. We were impressed by your level-headed leadership in Operation Protective Edge; in those circumstances Israel could not and cannot allow fire on our homes nor to put the public in danger. But this operation may turn out to be in vain if we do not act to prevent the next war. The government of Israel and its residents do not have the privilege of sitting around idly. It is time to take responsibility for our future and take advantage of the historical opportunity that has come up following Operation Protective Edge. We are in the midst of the memorial days marking the fallen of the Yom Kippur War, a war that stemmed from the political blindness of the Israeli leadership. We are concerned that similar blindness will thwart the opportunity before us. Therefore we call on you to adopt the political-regional approach and begin negotiations with moderate Arab states and with the Palestinians (in the West Bank and in Gaza, too) based on the Saudi-Arab Peace Initiative, as proposed to Israel by the President of Egypt Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi at the recent international conference in Cairo, and Saudi Prince Turki Al Faisal last July. Sir, you yourself have declared a political horizon and stated that there are shared interests. You know that the moderate Arab states want to promote together with us a political arrangement that will enable us to confront our mutual enemies together and stabilize the Middle East. You know that this is the real answer to the Iranian threat and the terror threats of ISIL, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaida and other terrorist organizations. You also know that only the political-regional approach and an arrangement with the moderate Arab states has a chance of bringing about an agreement with the Palestinians, stability, security and economic prosperity. The political-regional approach brings with it great hope. Only this approach can create the dramatic political change that will lead to socio-economic growth and turn Israel into model society for its citizens, the Jews of the Diaspora and the nations of the world. Only this approach can be the weight that will tip the socio-economic scale, lower the high cost of living and impact the quality of life of the public that is raising its voice in economic protest. This is not a question of right or left. This is not a question of fear. This is another idea for the solution of the conflict that is not based on negotiations with the Palestinians that have failed time and again. Sir, please do not join those who, every other day, use warnings of danger as an excuse to do nothing. We know what is necessary to achieve security for Israel, and we know that regional cooperation will contribute to this goal. There is a high chance that this initiative will succeed! But even if it doesn’t, you owe this to the people of Israel. Only then can we look our children and grandchildren in the eye and say: ‘We tried; we are sorry, we did not succeed.’ We expect of you a courageous initiative, leadership and vision. As a fighter, you were raised on the slogan ‘only he who dares, succeeds.’ As a politician, adopt the slogan ‘only he who initiates, succeeds.’ Lead the way and we will stand behind you!THESE, TO ME, ARE THE “ELDERS” who are urging, “Destroy the Temple” — that is, surrender vision of Greater Israel that has seized so much of the Israeli right, in order to build a future for Israel. Yet it seems that the man they want to “lead the way” is at best a police chief, on alert against the next Intifada, and, at his most mundane, merely a lawn-mower man. Lawrence Bush edits Jewish Currents and JEWDAYO.