The essence of Passover is a promise for a better future through the transformation of an entire people from slavery to freedom. This idea has sustained us, the Jewish people, for centuries.
In the wake of Israel’s recent elections we must find a way to cope with the policies of Israel’s re-elected prime minister which offer us little promise and hope.
But what are our choices? Giving up and conceding to Israel’s nationalist extremists means being complicit in Israel’s destruction. I refuse to be complicit. I urge you to also not be complicit.
The Jewish family's table is the oldest and most important focus of Jewish continuity. And once a year, as I sit down with my my children and grandchildren and we celebrate the holiday that more than any other puts the table at its center, one of the rituals that Jews around the world observe is the spilling of wine from their cups at the mention of each plague afflicted upon Egypt. Drinking wine imbues joy, spilling it at the mention of each plague symbolically banishes joy. At my Seder, we will observe this tradition, but I may add modern-day plagues facing Israel – many our own doing or may I say, undoing.
Spill some wine for continued settlement building; spill some wine for illegal outposts; spill some for the extremist settlers’ “price-tag” attacks; spill some for continued occupation; spill for denying Rawabi water for too long; spill for racism; spill for efforts to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist; for growing anti-Semitism in Europe; for divided Palestinian leadership, for the hardened-hearts of Hamas leaders … Dayenu. Enough.
But we must do more than spill wine. We must act to end the rule over another people and stop the slippery slide to a bi-national state … or apartheid.
The outlines of a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians have been largely agreed upon for decades—two states, Israel and Palestine, side by side, based on the pre-1967 borders. There will be agreed-upon land swaps that take into consideration Israeli “settlement blocs” in the West Bank. The Jewish-populated areas of East Jerusalem will be incorporated into Jewish West Jerusalem and will become part of the internationally-recognized capital of Israel. The Palestinian-populated areas of Jerusalem will be the capital of Palestine. Israel’s security needs will be addressed and anchored in a treaty and safeguarded by a powerful IDF, with respect for the sovereignty of the Palestinian state. The Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved through an agreed upon solution.
All 22 members of the Arab League have endorsed these principles twelve years ago, when they adopted the Arab Peace Initiative, a proposal worthy of negotiations and bargaining. We should have engaged with this initiative 12 years ago. Had we done so, circumstances would be different today. We can still do it today to give our children hope for a better tomorrow.
As we mark Passover this year, we must renew our determination to realize the hope and the promise that have sustained the Jewish people for centuries – and we must renew our determination not to cede the playing field to extremists on either side.
Instead of apathy and resignation, I have chosen action and hope. Action and hope are the essence of Peace Now (Shalom Achshav).
In the United States, Americans for Peace Now (APN) is the sister organization of Israel’s Peace Now movement. APN provides nearly half of the funding for Israel’s Peace Now and helps make possible the actions, research and legal advocacy that assists Israelis in taking back the middle ground.
Whether it is former Shin-Bet leaders, Mossad officials, or former Prime Ministers, we know that continued occupation is the opposite of security for Israel—it actually threatens the very existence of the Jewish state.
Enough blood has been spilled.
A joyous and liberating Passover,
P.S. If you had said, 15 years ago, that the two-state solution would be the official position of four consecutive Israeli prime ministers, endorsed by most Israelis, that the United States would be pursuing it, that the Arab League would make it a condition for comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, and that the entire international community would be pushing Israel's prime minister, a Likud prime minister, to make good on his original official endorsement of creating a Palestinian state, you would be dismissed as delusional. Peace Now and APN have always agitated to achieve a two-state solution. Our efforts have opened hearts and minds, and helped make the two-state solution the path that most Israelis consistently view today as the only viable path for peace and security for an Israel that is both Jewish and a democracy.