By Rabbi Dow Marmur.
The good news is that Jews won’t be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount. Cameras will be installed to check up on them and to provide evidence as to who causes the troubles there. That seems to be the outcome of Kerry’s conversations with Netanyahu, Abu Mazen and King Abdullah of Jordan.
Normative Orthodoxy has always objected not only to praying on the Temple Mount but even visiting it until the Messiah comes. But some Jews claiming piety and patriotism can’t wait. They want to go there now, pray for the speedy rebuilding of the Temple and assert their rights. Some may even attempt to deliberately provoke the Muslims there; the fact that they’ll be inhibited from acting is very good news.
It the reports are correct, Israel’s prime minister has agreed to the modifications which he’ll proclaim as no change to the status quo. This gives cause for optimism and gratitude to Abdullah who seems to have had a beneficial influence on both sides.
Whether this will bring an end to the present wave of terror attacks and thus also to Israeli counter measures remains to be seen. If it does, we’ll go back to the normal abnormalities to which both Israelis and Palestinians have got accustomed to over decades. However, even at its best, this should only be seen as a modest interim step.
The real issue must now be resolved: a two-state solution, yes with Jerusalem as a capital for both. There’re no signs of anything being done towards it yet, but this shouldn’t inhibit us from speculating about a possible happy outcome. What follows is realistic wishful thinking. Needless to say, I’ve no evidence for any of it.
A possible path toward a lasting peace could be that the settlers will remain where they are now as residents or perhaps citizens of the Palestinian state paralleling the Palestinian/Arab citizens of Israel. (There’re by now too many of them to contemplate drastic border adjustments.) Some would no doubt decide to move to Israel, perhaps to the new towns that are being planned. Others will resist and will probably have to be restrained by force. It won’t be pretty, perhaps even with hints of civil war.
Whatever the rhetoric and the legalities about “the eternal undivided capital of the Jewish people,” Jerusalem is still a divided city, as has been in evidence these last weeks. Establishing a Palestinian capital in some of the Arab neighourhoods is thus a realistic though still distant possibility. Again, there will be clashes with Jewish nationalists.
In order to bring this about Israel will indeed need a unity government to thin out the presence of the ultra-right wing in the current cabinet. This means bringing in the Zionist Union – probably with Isaac Herzog as foreign minister, Tzipi Livni as minister of justice and others of their ilk. Perhaps also Yair Lapid despite his grandstanding. Again, there would be fierce opposition from Habayit Hayehudi and other right-wing parties, including many strident elements in Netanyahu’s own Likud.
The only hope is that the Israeli public will see sense and, perhaps in new elections and a referendum on the deal, endorse the sacrifices that Israel will have to make. And perhaps Netanyahu may want to go down in history as a peace maker.
The above is an attempt at optimism, some may say at the cost of realism. But the alternative seems grim. We need to dream to remain sane and keep hoping to live up to Israel’s national anthem Hatikvah (The Hope).
Jerusalem 24.10.15 (Motza\ei Shabbat)