THE BLOG

"I'm Not Dead Yet": The Peace Talks are Not Ready for Burial

There are so many who have declared the negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians dead. Let's not have a burial. Let's have a resuscitation. Peace, despite setbacks, remains a possibility. Secretary Kerry has asked the parties to find their own strength, their own desire to continue. The question for the parties and for us in America is this: "Do we have the courage to seize the opportunity?"

Let's face it. The status quo is unsustainable. This has been acknowledged by all sides. If the question is true and dependable security for Israel, the answer is, has been, and must be peace. If the question is a sustainable future for the Palestinians where this and future generations can grow up with opportunity and dignity, the answer is the same. Peace is safety. Without it, vulnerability, fragility and fear will reign.

It is easy to look at the challenges of this moment and say it is impossible, but ending conflict is only achieved by sustained and sincere effort. "Peace is not the absence of war," said the Dutch Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza, "it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition of benevolence, confidence, justice." A secure future does not just unfurl as if by magic, it is sought for and achieved by those who have the courage to keep on keeping on.

Secretary Kerry possesses that courage, as do majorities within each constituency. For the American Jewish community, it is incumbent on us to be willing to encourage Israel's leaders not to take security risks but rather to push the envelope as much as they can to move the dial towards peace. Hopefully, those closer to the Palestinians will do the same. The right voices from the international community, especially the Arab states, can keep the momentum from stopping. The time is right for a new relationship-regime to become a reality for Israelis and Palestinians.

Attitudes are shifting away from the zero-sum approach. Face-to-face negotiations -- if we allow them to continue -- offer the possibility for Israeli and Palestinian solutions, not Israeli or Palestinian solutions. If both sides speak with their minds open, who knows for sure what may pour forth. Whether it be combating terrorism or developing a sustainable economic infrastructure for the Palestinians, there are benefits to both sides in sitting down together. This is not the moment to allow our courage to flag.

There is never a wrong time to pursue peace. To let this chance go without trying every possible avenue to solve the dilemma is not very wise. The benefits of succeeding are enormous and the costs of failure even greater. Anybody who questions that need answer only one question, are we better off with prolonged conflict, or by continuing the process of reconciliation? To accept the former is to condemn our future generations. That is unacceptable when we have the chance today to commit ourselves to reconciliation. If we only have the courage to stay out on the edge and not give in to cynicism.