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Hope and Disappointment

By Dorah Rosen

YAEL DAYAN, daughter of Gen. Moshe Dayan and a formidable member of one of Israel's most influential families in her own right, recently spoke to a large audience at Temple Beth El in Aptos. Yael is an author, an activist for minority rights and a former Knesset member now on the city council of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. She is a longtime promoter of civil rights for all Israeli citizens, especially women, LGBT persons and Palestinians in Israel. She also supports Palestinians in occupied Palestine, as a member of both Women in Black and Peace Now.

When Yael spoke to a rapt audience of over 200 Temple Beth El members and their friends, she warned against those who say any action is justified because Israel's survival is precarious. She proudly stated that Israel has a strong military and its survival is not in doubt.

Yael expressed concern about many of Israel's policies, feeling that they are not aligned with Jewish principles. She explained that in the years following the 1967 War and the conquest of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, many Israelis were sure that the land would be exchanged for peace. Her conviction is that Israel must exchange land for peace with its neighbors, including the Palestinians who have been unjustly treated for so long.

For me, and many others in attendance, it was exhilarating to hear an Israeli politician clearly state that East Jerusalem must be part of a new Palestinian state and that the West Bank and control of Gaza must be relinquished, with negotiations to exchange some West Bank areas for land within the 1967 borders.

Listening to Yael Dayan's vision, and knowing that it came from an insider in Israel, gave many of us a sense of hope. Now that rosy glow has dissipated. The facts on the ground, and on the water, have proved that Israel is in the hands of people who feel that pre-emptive force, violence and propaganda are the way to ensure security. The Netanyahu government OKed the attack on the Free Gaza Flotilla, an attack that took place in international waters and left nine dead and dozens more wounded.

Many knowledgeable experts say that constantly supporting Israel's belligerent policies is highly dangerous to Israel and U.S. interests because it increases Israel's unrealistic reliance on militarism. It is not only Israel, Palestinians, U.S. interests and people sailing against the Gaza blockade who are at risk. Abetting Israeli isolationism and its proclivity for pre-emptive strikes is rash in the extreme because Israel is known to have nuclear weapons.

U.S. policy must take into account the possibility that an irresponsible Israeli government might use these weapons. Yet the Obama administration does not seem to be setting any curbs on Israel's consistent reliance on military solutions. When I hear Israeli peace activists speak, they call on Americans to convince Congress and the president to put clear conditions on aid to Israel. This is what Yael Dayan called for when she spoke at Temple Beth El. It is what wiser minds than mine see as the responsible course.

DORAH ROSEN is on the steering committee of the Resource Center for Nonviolence, working with their programs the Palestine-Israel Action Committee, Truth in Recruiting Network and the GI Rights Network Santa Cruz. She is also a member of Temple Beth El in Aptos.

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