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Former Mossad Chief: For the first time, I fear for the future of Zionism (Haaretz)

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The nation of Israel is galloping blindly toward Bar Kochba’s war on the Roman Empire. The result of that conflict was 2,000 years of exile.

By Shabtai Shavit

Haaretz — Nov. 24, 2014

From the beginning of Zionism in the late 19th century, the Jewish nation in the Land of Israel has been growing stronger in terms of demography and territory, despite the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians. We have succeeded in doing so because we have acted with wisdom and stratagem rather than engaging in a foolish attempt to convince our foes that we were in the right.

Today, for the first time since I began forming my own opinions, I am truly concerned about the future of the Zionist project. I am concerned about the critical mass of the threats against us on the one hand, and the government’s blindness and political and strategic paralysis on the other. Although the State of Israel is dependent upon the United States, the relationship between the two countries has reached an unprecedented low point. Europe, our biggest market, has grown tired of us and is heading toward imposing sanctions on us. For China, Israel is an attractive high-tech project, and we are selling them our national assets for the sake of profit. Russia is gradually turning against us and supporting and assisting our enemies.

Anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel have reached dimensions unknown since before World War II. Our public diplomacy and public relations have failed dismally, while those of the Palestinians have garnered many important accomplishments in the world. University campuses in the West, particularly in the U.S., are hothouses for the future leadership of their countries.

We are losing the fight for support for Israel in the academic world. An increasing number of Jewish students are turning away from Israel. The global BDS movement (boycott, divestment, sanctions) against Israel, which works for Israel’s delegitimization, has grown, and quite a few Jews are members.

In this age of asymmetrical warfare we are not using all our force, and this has a detrimental effect on our deterrent power.

The debate over the price of Milky pudding snacks and its centrality in public discourse demonstrate an erosion of the solidarity that is a necessary condition for our continued existence here. Israelis’ rush to acquire a foreign passport, based as it is on the yearning for foreign citizenship, indicates that people’s feeling of security has begun to crack.

I am concerned that for the first time, I am seeing haughtiness and arrogance, together with more than a bit of the messianic thinking that rushes to turn the conflict into a holy war. If this has been, so far, a local political conflict that two small nations have been waging over a small and defined piece of territory, major forces in the religious Zionist movement are foolishly doing everything they can to turn it into the most horrific of wars, in which the entire Muslim world will stand against us.

I also see, to the same extent, detachment and lack of understanding of international processes and their significance for us. This right wing, in its blindness and stupidity, is pushing the nation of Israel into the dishonorable position of “the nation shall dwell alone and not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23:9).

I am concerned because I see history repeating itself. The nation of Israel is galloping blindly in a time tunnel to the age of Bar Kochba and his war on the Roman Empire. The result of that conflict was several centuries of national existence in the Land of Israel followed by 2,000 years of exile.

I am concerned because as I understand matters, exile is truly frightening only to the state’s secular sector, whose world view is located on the political center and left. That is the sane and liberal sector that knows that for it, exile symbolizes the destruction of the Jewish people. The Haredi sector lives in Israel only for reasons of convenience. In terms of territory, Israel and Brooklyn are the same to them; they will continue living as Jews in exile, and wait patiently for the arrival of the Messiah.

The religious Zionist movement, by comparison, believes the Jews are “God’s chosen.” This movement, which sanctifies territory beyond any other value, is prepared to sacrifice everything, even at the price of failure and danger to the Third Commonwealth. If destruction should take place, they will explain it in terms of faith, saying that we failed because “We sinned against God.” Therefore, they will say, it is not the end of the world. We will go into exile, preserve our Judaism and wait patiently for the next opportunity.

I recall Menachem Begin, one of the fathers of the vision of Greater Israel. He fought all his life for the fulfillment of that dream. And then, when the gate opened for peace with Egypt, the greatest of our enemies, he gave up Sinai – Egyptian territory three times larger than Israel’s territory inside the Green Line – for the sake of peace. In other words, some values are more sacred than land. Peace, which is the life and soul of true democracy, is more important than land.

I am concerned that large segments of the nation of Israel have forgotten, or put aside, the original vision of Zionism: to establish a Jewish and democratic state for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. No borders were defined in that vision, and the current defiant policy is working against it.

What can and ought to be done? We need to create an Archimedean lever that will stop the current deterioration and reverse today’s reality at once. I propose creating that lever by using the Arab League’s proposal from 2002, which was partly created by Saudi Arabia. The government must make a decision that the proposal will be the basis of talks with the moderate Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

The government should do three things as preparation for this announcement: 1) It should define a future negotiating strategy for itself, together with its position on each of the topics included in the Arab League’s proposal. 2) It should open a secret channel of dialogue with the United States to examine the idea, and agree in advance concerning our red lines and about the input that the U.S. will be willing to invest in such a process. 3) It should open a secret American-Israeli channel of dialogue with Saudi Arabia in order to reach agreements with it in advance on the boundaries of the topics that will be raised in the talks and coordinate expectations. Once the secret processes are completed, Israel will announce publicly that it is willing to begin talks on the basis of the Arab League’s document.

I have no doubt that the United States and Saudi Arabia, each for its own reasons, will respond positively to the Israeli initiative, and the initiative will be the lever that leads to a dramatic change in the situation. With all the criticism I have for the Oslo process, it cannot be denied that for the first time in the conflict’s history, immediately after the Oslo Accords were signed, almost every Arab country started talking with us, opened its gates to us and began engaging in unprecedented cooperative ventures in economic and other fields.

Although I am not so naïve as to think that such a process will bring the longed-for peace, I am certain that this kind of process, long and fatiguing as it will be, could yield confidence-building measures at first and, later on, security agreements that both sides in the conflict will be willing to live with. The progress of the talks will, of course, be conditional upon calm in the security sphere, which both sides will be committed to maintaining. It may happen that as things progress, both sides will agree to look into mutual compromises that will promote the idea of coexisting alongside one another. If mutual trust should develop – and the chances of that happening under American and Saudi Arabian auspices are fairly high – it will be possible to begin talks for the conflict’s full resolution as well.

An initiative of this kind requires true and courageous leadership, which is hard to identify at the moment. But if the prime minister should internalize the severity of the mass of threats against us at this time, the folly of the current policy, the fact that this policy’s creators are significant elements in the religious Zionist movement and on the far right, and its devastating results – up to the destruction of the Zionist vision – then perhaps he will find the courage and determination to carry out the proposed action.

I wrote the above statements because I feel that I owe them to my parents, who devoted their lives to the fulfillment of Zionism; to my children, my grandchildren and to the nation of Israel, which I served for decades.

The author is a former director general of the Mossad.  SOURCE  http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.628038

Norway’s YMCA-YWCA Supports Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions of Israel

The Norwegian YMCA-YWCA and YMCA-YWCA Global  hope this non-violent instrument can contribute to a solution with a just peace for both parties. God created all people in his image, equal in dignity – and that human dignity is violated now daily in the Palestinian territories.

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Jesus said blessed are the peacemakers – and we must try to help – with the non-violent means available. The peace movement on both sides need our active solidarity.

Tung. Debate about Israel and Palestine experienced in many Christian organizations and churches as heavy and difficult. Many people choose to leave it. Secretary General of the Association of YWCA (World YWCA) reminded us recently that “Silence is also a statement.” To let the debate remain basically means accepting the status quo.

We will not accept the status quo in Palestine and Israel. Both Israelis and Palestinians have a right to self-determination within internationally recognized borders, in recognition of its elected leadership and just peace with security for the civilian population.

Israel’s rights must be maintained, but the occupation of Palestine is unacceptable.  Because a long series of UN resolutions and negotiations for decades have not yielded results, we believe it is now appropriate to initiate economic boycott of Israel to put increased pressure on the authorities to follow up UN resolutions to end the occupation.

We encourage broad economic boycott of products from Israel, Israeli settlements and from companies that actively participate in the occupation.

Non-violence. YMCA-YWCA Global has over the last 40 years working closely with the YMCA and YWCA of Palestine. YWCA and YMCA are important community of Christian Palestinians, they have a heavy social commitment and strengthens young people in struggle and faith in justice and peace – only using non-violent means.

We are distressed when we see how the Palestinians constantly subjected to undignified treatment. We understand that they get angry when they lose access to the land they cultivate, as they struggle with water shortages while settlers on the hill have more than enough, when children must be accompanied by companions to school to be protected from harassment, when soldiers suddenly close all the checkpoint and many youth loses a teaching or a doctor’s appointment. Or if they encounter a wall growing up in the neighborhood and they do not know whether their house will stand.

Rights on the Israeli side also violated as a result of the conflict. We understand that Israeli families are weary and despairing of living in fear of rockets and suicide bombs. We understand that they seek to create security for themselves and their families.

Sin. We are humble when we see the YWCA and YMCA youth searching for ways to achieve justice and equal living conditions, without resorting to violence. We want to strengthen and support their involvement.

In 2009, we faced a challenge from church leaders and laity in Bethlehem authored “A Moment of Truth – Kairos Palestine”. The authors declare clearly that the military occupation is a sin against God and man, and express strongly that a theology which defends the occupation is far from Christian teachings.

They believe true Christian theology challenge to solidarity with the oppressed, and the love that is reflected in action. They defend the Palestinians’ right and duty to participate in non-violent resistance to injustice they suffer from. Specifically, we were on a theological basis, encouraged to join the creative and non-violent resistance, specified as involvement in economic boycott of everything produced as part of the occupation and withdrawal of investments in such purposes.

Wide boycott.  We advocate a broad economic boycott both because it is impossible for consumers to know if a product is manufactured in the occupied territories or not, and because the purchase of Israeli products or investments in Israeli companies contribute financially to the occupation that Israel is responsible for .

It is important to recognize that a conflict has multiple pages. As a church we are challenged to take sides with those who suffer most and who do we speak for yourselves.  The Israeli government has a superior military force and is occupying. Palestinian authorities and the civilian population carries a variety of offending and violent acts, but they are currently the weakest party. This gives Israel the primary responsibility to end the occupation and restore justice and peace.

Legally. Whilst negotiations are attempted for many laps, Israel’s position has become stronger. An economic boycott is a strong but legal and non-violent means. We encourage organizations, churches and individuals to support our position. This position is really held in love, both for Israelis and Palestinians.

Authors:  Øystein Magelssen, Styreleder Norwegian YMCA-YWCA, Adelheid Firing Hvambsa, General of the Norwegian YMCA-YWCA, Sunniva Gylver, Chairman YMCA-YWCA Global, and Fredrik Glad-Gjernes,  Foreign Head of YMCA-YWCA Global

FIRST PUBLISHED IN OUR COUNTRY 21 February 2014 see http://www.verdidebatt.no/debatt/cat1/subcat4/thread11477785/#cxrecs_s