Since its inception, terrorism has been a fact of everyday life in the Jewish state. Our daughter Lauren, who lives in Israel with her family, related how close it had come to her when she came to my synagogue, Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim in Silver Spring, Md., for Shabbat services some 10 years ago.
Rabbi Reuben Landman, then the shul’s spiritual leader, gave a dvar Torah on feeling beautiful. He saw Lauren sitting next to me and invited her to the bima to say the prayer for Israel.
When she got to the lectern, Lauren said she wanted to say something.
Several years earlier, living in Jerusalem, she had been pregnant with her first child. She ordinarily didn’t put on makeup, but it was late in the pregnancy, and she was very big and feeling unattractive. So, she took the time to put on some lipstick and eye shadow.
Lauren had to go Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus, where she worked and was a student. Earlier, she had checked the bus schedule and knew when it was due. As she approached her stop, the vehicle already was leaving. Her beauty makeover had caused her to miss it by a few seconds.
It also might have save her life and that of her unborn child. The bus she had just missed was attacked by terrorists as it made its way through the Arab suburbs located between our apartment, where she and her husband were living at the time, and her destination.
Will the Palestinians reconsider peace talks?
When the United Arab Emirates and Israel reached a deal last month in which the UAE became the third Arab country to recognize the Jewish state, I had hoped that the Palestinians would see that fabled writing on the wall and decide that it was time for serious negotiations with Israel.
So far, that hope apparently hasn’t been realized — I say apparently because secret talks are always a possibility.
When I lived in Israel, there was a vibrant peace movement — Shalom Achshav, Peace Now. But when the rulers of the West Bank — who ostensibly want to live in harmony side by side with the Jewish state — sent suicide bombers to kill Israeli civilians after they had signed a peace treaty promising to eschew violence and after Yasser Arafat and later Mahmoud Abbas rejected offers of a state on almost 100 percent of the territories, Israelis understood that there is no one to make peace with. As a result, the peace movement has withered. (Yes, the organized West Bank settlers also did their best to scuttle any possible Palestinian state, but I believe that had the Palestinian leadership agreed to either of the offers — or made serious counter offers — the yearnings of Israelis for peace would have overcome the settlers’ objections.)
Even today, when conditions for peace are less promising than they were 15 or 20 years ago, I still believe that were the Palestinians decide to accept unequivocally Israel as a permanent state in the Middle East, a two-state solution is still acceptable.
Now that a breakthrough in Arab-Israeli relations has been achieved — and more countries may decide to recognize the Jewish state in the non-too-distant future — the Palestinian leadership should decide to reconsider its position.
I fervently hope those leaders do exactly that.
Aaron Leibel is the author of the acclaimed memoir, Figs and Alligators: An American Immigrant’s Life in Israel in the 1970s and 1980s, published by Chickadee Prince Books in 2021, and available to order from Amazon in Kindle and paperback, Barnes and Noble, and at every local bookstore in the U.S. and Canada.
Image by Laura Seigal, Unsplash