Picture: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD
Picture: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD

A pilot will tell you it is not good enough to imagine a horizon, you must be able to see it, lest you become disoriented. I want to venture that Chris Thurman is not only failing to start his journey with a fixed point of reference but is missing not only the horizon but some important landmarks (“Imagining a horizon beyond war and oppression”, May 19).

The connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel is not random, and it is not colonial. In fact, it is 3,500 years away from being colonial. The Jewish connection to the land stayed alive not just because of history or the centrality of Israel and Jerusalem to Jewish people, but because wherever the Jews went there were those who viciously told — often by force — that they belonged elsewhere. It is no surprise that the next generation of bigots has followed them to Israel to tell them they belong — surprise, surprise — “elsewhere”.

The two-state solution was never a joke to Israel — they have never been able to laugh about it in their 73-year existence. Seven Arab armies said it was a joke when they went to war with Israel in 1948. Egypt and Jordan said it was a joke when they annexed the “future Arab state” in 1948 and were part of the coalitions that went to war with Israel in 1967 and 1973. The Palestinian leadership believes it is a joke as they have rejected repeated attempts by Israel to persuade them to the contrary. The Iranian ayatollahs, not known for their humour, also think it's a joke with a nuclear punchline.

When looking for an imaginary horizon it is possible to confuse those with hardened hearts with sceptical realists. People with hardened hearts do not care about human beings, those who they live among or those who they target. People with hardened hearts fire rockets indiscriminately at civilians from among their own civilians. Sceptical realists keep the door open to talk, but having learnt hard lessons in the process, build a strong army just in case. Being on the receiving end of incendiary and explosive balloons, and thousands of rockets and mortars from the last piece of land they left, has persuaded the sceptical realists that it is not just a land issue.

If 10% of the effort expended by the UN, international media and individual governments in demonising Israel had been invested in persuading the Palestinian leadership to abandon incitement and to embrace negotiation, Palestine could have been a state long ago. Israel seized the opportunity to become a state, and even those blinkered by indoctrination acknowledge Israel’s progress as a nation.

In closing, rather than trying to imagine a horizon, there is a real horizon visible in the form of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan and even Saudi Arabia, that have changed their attitude towards Israel. They recognise that the existential threats faced by Israel have a lot in common with the threats they face. The landmarks that are already visible are warmth, economic advancement and cultural appreciation.

Chris Eden
Cape Town

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