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Israeli Election

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BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: In the aftermath of Israel’s incursion into Gaza, Amnesty International says there is evidence of war crimes by both sides during the fighting. Meanwhile, both Israel and Hamas are restricting the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza — Israel because it is concerned about arms smuggling and Hamas because it wants more control over the aid. In Tuesday’s Israeli elections, hardliners picked up seats in the Parliament, indicating that whoever finally becomes Prime Minister will take a tougher stance on peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

So where does all that leave the outlook for Middle East peace? Warren Clark is a former Ambassador who is Executive Director of Churches for Middle East Peace. Jack Moline is the Rabbi at Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria, Virginia. Welcome to you both. Rabbi Moline, what’s the outlook?

Rabbi Jack Moline

Rabbi JACK MOLINE (Agudas Achim Congregation, Alexandria, Virginia): It’s a little hard to tell, Bob. It could be that this could be a huge opportunity in Israeli and Palestinian relationships. Any change in circumstance I think presents an opportunity, and I’m hoping this is one that both sides will take.

ABERNETHY: Why? Why is it a new opportunity?

Rabbi MOLINE: The shift in government in Israel to a government that at least has support of an electorate.

ABERNETHY: With more hardliners in the government?

Rabbi MOLINE: Well, you know, it’s very interesting. The last two prime ministers of Israel campaigned on promises to take a harder line against Palestinian statehood, and both of them turned out being, by some standard at least, the more progressive prime ministers that there were. The withdrawal from Gaza and the proclamation by Olmert that an independent Palestinian state was desirable was a surprise to everybody.

ABERNETHY: So hardliners might be able to do more toward negotiating peace?

Rabbi MOLINE: I think you say one thing to get into office, and you find out you have to do other things once you’re there.

ABERNETHY: Ambassador, what’s your sense of where we are?

Warren Clark

WARREN CLARK (Former Ambassador and Executive Director, Churches for Middle East Peace): I would say there’s another opportunity, which is the new government here in the United States. We have a new president, a new secretary of state. The president and the secretary have appointed a new Middle East envoy, Senator [George] Mitchell, and I think that’s new. For most of the Bush administration there was not a forward-leaning U.S. government promoting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Rabbi MOLINE: Although I’ll tell you one of the things that President Bush did that no other president was able to do was to call for a Palestinian state, independent, alongside of Israel, and I think another example of how that can happen.

ABERNETHY: And you think that’s the only objective too, right? A two-state solution?

Mr. CLARK: I’m afraid anything else is going to be much worse. If you are talking about continuation of the occupation or unilateral Israeli control, it’s an invitation for endless conflict.

ABERNETHY: You know, decade after decade American presidents, American people, have tried to promote successful negotiations between Israel and its neighbors, and it never gets anywhere, and is there anything new that the new president, Senator Mitchell, or anybody can think of that might not have been tried before, that might lead to some kind of breakthrough, Jack?

Rabbi MOLINE: I’m not sure that we can say that there’s been no progress. There are qualitative differences between the relationships of Israelis and Palestinians now than there were 20 to 25 years ago when the Israeli government prohibited its representatives from even speaking with representatives of the Palestinian nation. So progress is not happening at the rate we’d like it to, and certainly the violence that’s the result of that slow progress is something we all deplore, but I think that, as I said, any change is an opportunity, and we should go with the slow momentum.

ABERNETHY: Well, it certainly is that.

Rabbi MOLINE: It is.

Mr. CLARK: I have another concern about the situation right now and how it’s different, and that’s the demographic situation. The population of the Palestinians is growing faster than that of Israel, and unless there is a two-state solution pretty soon, the opportunity’s really going to be lost.

ABERNETHY: What about some kind of popular movement in the Middle East here? What can American churches do? What can the American Jewish community do? What opportunities are there for pressure coming up from the bottom that might change what the governments do, Ambassador?

Mr. CLARK: I would say we need to continue the kind of communication and dialogue that goes on between the Christian community and the Jewish community. We try to do that here in Washington with Churches for Middle East Peace. I think there’s a lot of ignorance in the United States about the tragedy in the Middle East and that there are real opportunities for peace.

Rabbi MOLINE: And I think you would find that within all of the American communities — Jewish, Christian, even the American Arab community. There are clusters of people who are working very hard on a variety of levels to find some resolution. You have people who are a little more liberal looking for cooperation, people a little harder to the right looking for a more militant solution. But the variety is there. The idea is to allow those voices to rise

ABERNETHY: Very quickly, Ambassador, you’ve said that the window is closing on opportunity, and I assume you mean by that that the Arab population is increasing so fast?

Mr. CLARK: That’s part of it. The other part of it is the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories continue to expand. They’ve never really stopped. Every president since Nixon has said they should stop. But there’s been greater expansion since the Annapolis conference a year ago than before.

ABERNETHY: But the bottom line for both of you is that there is still some chance?

Rabbi MOLINE: Where there’s life there’s hope

Mr. CLARK: It’s not impossible.

ABERNETHY: Ambassador Warren Clark, Rabbi Jack Moline, many thanks.

Rabbi MOLINE: Thank you, Bob.

Mr. CLARK: Thank you.

  • Hymie Zoltsveis

    WHY is it that you only seem able to bring liberal rabbis on your show, who fail to understand Torah, and the fact that ALL of Israel was given to the Jewish people, as an inheritance, in perpetuity?

    Why do you use terms such as “Palestinian territories” or “Jewish settlers?” The facts are that ALL of Israel—certainly including Gaza, the Golan, Judea, Samaria (the “West Bank”) and even Sinai are all part of The ALmighty’s grant to the Jews. It is the ARABS that are trespassing on JEWISH lands. Hebron, for example, is the SECOND HOLIEST city in Judaism….the burial places of our founders, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah. The holy tombs of ALL of our founders—including Joseph’s (in Shechem/Nablus) and Rachael (outside Bethlehem) have CONSTANTLY been destroyed by arab muslims.
    WHY dodn’t you mention the REAL TRUE IDENTITY of islam?

    The muslims have many, many countries and areas, that are virtually/absolutely Judenrein (without Jews). The Jews of modern Israel have, ab initio, given muslims FULL CITIZENSHIP and FULL RIGHTS/BENEFITS. Sadly, however, the muslims have given the Jews NOTHING but DISLOYALTY, Jewish widows and orphans.

    Israel is our ONLY homeland—we seek NO arab lands. Even though, for example, Medina had a HUGE level of Jews (most of whom were expelled or slaughtered by Mohammid), we do NOT seek to colonize Medina—-or Babylonia. ONLY Israel is sought as our homeland.

    In SIXTY years, no major muslim leader has been willing to acknowledge that Israel is ENTITLED to live in peace and as a Jewish homeland. Leaders such as Sadat, who seemed to sincerely seek peace, were swiftly murdered by other muslims.

    I, and millions of Orthodox and observant Jews simply realize that PEACE is not possible with islam. Islam is INCOMPATIBLE with any other religion. We have 1,300 years of examples that this is true.

    We Jews want our OWN nation. We want to live in safety and peace. If that takes the full expulsion of all muslims—so be it.

    No one cried when six million Jews were killed by Hitler. No one has cried when even MORE MILLIONS of Jews (and Christians) have been killed by the followers of Mohammad—a man even more dedly than Hitler.

    WHY do you keep pressing Israel and Jews for peace with the muslims. WHAT “concessions” have the muslims given to the Jews? Nothing but bombs, rockets, widows and orphans.

    If you want to press for peace, then PLEASE ask “WHAT HAVE MUSLIMS DONE TO BRING PEACE TO ISRAEL?

    WHY are NO JEWS allowed to be citizens of Jordan…YET, clearly disloyal muslims have FULL citizenship in Israel?

    In the future, please do not ONLY bring liberal Rabbis on your show.

    I enjoy your show, and rarely miss it, BUT it is sadly misleading in its reflection of Jewish observance and opinion.

  • Steve Stein

    The recent Israeli elections says only one thing,” ISRAEL REJECTS OSLO AS SUICIDAL.”

    There is no reason to keep “negotiating” with people who have wanted Jews dead for over 1,000 years–the Muslims. The only thing resembling peace will be when all muslims are either expelled from Israel, or stripped of citizenship and its privleges.

    The muslims have, once again, whown that they seek the total elimination of Israel and the Jews.

    Withdrawal from Gaza was stupid…and now the ordinary Israeli is clearer than ever on that matter.

    If Israel is to survive, it MUST be the Jewish nation that the Almighty established. Compatible religions, such as Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. can be a part of the Jewish nation, but clearly, there is no place for Muslims is a peaceful Israel.

  • Peter Culman

    Please keep talking and as you talk do your utmost to get to know each other. The greater the knowledge the greater desire to come the beginnings of something useful, grand.

  • Pearl W. Hoffman

    I presume that Hymie Zoltsveis and Steve Stein are residents and citizens of the U.S.–perhaps property owners. I wonder how why would feel if the United Nations decided to give back the area or the city where they reside to the original inhabitants, namely, the American indigenous Indians. Would they be ready to move to another state or Canada or Mexico without protest? The Palestinians–and some “Palestinian” Jews–have lived in that area for centuries. The Ashkenazi Jews are probably not even descendants of Abraham yet they expected the Palestinians–who were never consulted–to accept the League of Nation’s vote and the U.N. action to divide Palestine, in some cases even divide family farms. The “Arab” Jews were not persecuted by the Arabs as the Ashkenazis were by the Europeans, yet the Palestinians were expected to surrender what had been their home for centuries. Steve Stein’s comment “about people who have wanted Jews dead for over 1,000 years–Muslims.” is without historical foundation.

  • Gus Nussdorfer

    Pearl, it couldn’t have been said better than your note. It is important that we do not confuse Zionizm with the religious heritage of the Jewish faith. The land has been a part of the lives of the Jewish people but also Christian and Musilms have a “heritage” in the land taken for the State of Israel. Would we all realize we are all sharing the blood of Abraham as brothers and sister.

  • Charles T. HEIN, PhD

    When will Peace in Israel become a 21st century issue? It must be conceived as creating jointly owned institutions like the European Common Market creataed to resolve historic rivalry thru mutually beneficial collaborative use of energy (gas, now found offshore Gaza & Haifa, solar power,) and water; Peace would draw on the educated populations to create new enterprises to serve the Middle East. Only a Middle East solution that will absorb unemployment and feed the poor will allow survival to all of God’s children all along the once Fertile Crescent.

  • Andrew Smith

    It’s true, this show always picks liberals to represent other nations, especially the nations of our allies, such as Israel.

    The mainstream media is biased against Israel in the extreme. When terrorists are using women as human shields or fighting from inside hospitals and schools the media says nothing. But then when Israel launches an air strike on a terrorist held building and accidentally wounds or kills a civilian, the media demonizes Israel for it and accuses them of war crimes. It’s despicable.

    Second, I have some friends who are Muslim, and most of them are good people. But they are intolerant of Jews, and yes there is foundation for Steve Stein’s comment. The only reason the Muslim caliphate didn’t take Jewish rights away is because Muslims are descendants of Abraham too.

    Third, people spend more time whining about why “those Palestinians and Israelis just can’t get along” then they do about trying to understand it. The people Israel is fighting are not a bunch of poor, innocent civilians, they are criminals that will violate international law and kill Israelis no matter who they are. They hate Israel with a passion, and Israel has a right to not have to negotiate with them until they renounce their vow to “wipe Israel off the face of the earth”. They can’t be negotiating when they are still getting hit or are about to get hit. These people on this show probably don’t know what it’s like being in a war zone or watching someone they love die.

    Fourth, God did not say every descendant of Abraham would get a right to the land of Israel, or else everyone in the Christian faith will be living there. There is plenty of evidence that God has reserved Israel for the Israelis in the Old Testament, you just have to look for it.

    Israel is my ally and I will support it in whatever it does, and they would do the same for us. Israel has been successfully defending itself against aggression since it became a nation, and they wouldn’t have taken their course over the past half century or more if they didn’t think they were doing the right thing. We in the West, as Israel’s allies, need to stand by them and make sure we have their back instead of criticizing them whenever possible. We need to stand side by side with our friend Israel.

    God bless Israel!