War and Peace in Middle East

I wrote this this to a friend who was very upset with Avigdor Lieberman’s statement, “those who want peace should prepare for war.”

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I know that this sounds awful and that Lieberman has used racist language toward Arabs.  This is certainly true, and that part is wrong.

At the same time, I agree with his statement that there is no peace without preparing for war.  That is a part of Jewish thought for millennia and is encompassed in the Jewish notion of “shalom.”  Shalom means “wholeness,” not peace.  In this case, “wholeness” includes both the retreating and assertive sides of human nature and of nature itself.  I did not like Ronald Reagan’s domestic policies, but he was right in the way that he dealt with the Soviet Union.  And, in the Middle East, that is even more true.  You have to be tough, and you have to take into account that those who hate you will use various means at their disposal to annihilate you.  That’s the way it is, and anyone who wants peace also has to understand this fact.  Otherwise, you invite aggression and violence.

If I were in Lieberman’s position, I would not say what he said publicly about preparing for war, but preparing for the possibility of war is what I would do.

I am attaching an article by Yossi Klein Halevi who understands the Middle East as well as anyone that I know.  He wrote a wonderful book called “At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden:  A Jew’s Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land.”  He is a political centrist, very realistic, but very much wanting peace.  This article expresses much that is in my view true:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123846458281572307.html.  The idea right now of negotiations toward a two-state solution is naive and foolish.  I believe in a two-state solution, but the Palestinians are at this time nowhere near in a position to have a functional, democratic state.  The best that we can hope for is movement in the Palestinian and Arab world toward a civil, democratic, tolerant society.  That is a precondition and prerequisite for a meaningful peace settlement.  Olmert and Livni (and Barak in the past) did everything they could to engage in dialogue with the Palestinian leadership about an agreement.  They failed primarily because the time was not yet ready for them to succeed.  Palestinian society needs to change in order for peace to even have a chance.

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