Greater Men have Tried
The Times of Israel 22 February 2014
By Paula R. Stern
Open letter to John Kerry: Dear Secretary of State John Kerry: Because of my respect for the United States, I will attempt to afford you the honor you think you so richly deserve. It’s hard to speak to you with anything but anger, hard to feel the need, again, to start from the beginning because you clearly choose to ignore history in your quest for glory. It is a quest destined to fail but its outcome, even, or more accurately especially, in failure, will hurt Israel.
Greater men than you have tried to make, to force, peace on the Middle East. I promise you, you will fail too. You will fail because you are not addressing the root cause of the problem. You, like so many before you, take the easy way out. Blame Israel. It is so easy to do, and so stupid.
I could speak to you of history – a history longer and greater than you can imagine. I could speak to you of injustices – yes, our land is filled with the graves of those murdered for the unjust reason that they lived here, or traveled abroad, or ate in the wrong restaurant, or took the wrong bus.
I could speak to you of justice – of a population exchange similar to those that have taken place throughout history as nations settle between war and peace. They left their lands to go there, most voluntarily so that their invading brothers would have a clear path as they pushed the Jews into the sea. And our people, who left their homes and possessions in Arab lands, most forced, not voluntarily, and came here.
We fed our brothers, clothed them, gave them homes. And most importantly, we loved them and gave them the most precious of gifts – a future, a present, as integral parts of the land and people of this country. My neighbor, the family across the street – they live in the same houses that I do, drive the same cars, attend the same schools. He is an engineer; he is a judge in the courts. She is a nurse; she is a lawyer. All my neighbors, though their grandparents came here with nothing.
And at the same time, across many borders, the Arabs put their "brothers” in refugee camps, all but starved them. They raised them to be embittered – not at those who kept them in squalor, but those they had hoped to defeat. They blame us and you are naive enough to blame us as well?
They chose war, John Kerry, while we chose compromise. And you would blame us for this horrible chain of the decades? They invaded – five Arab nations, in 1949. They attacked. Out of sheer desperation, we won enough of our land to give us a measure of security…it lasted only 7 years, until they attacked again. But oh what we did in those 7 years. We welcomed our refugees from Europe, from Arab lands. We built them tent cities and turned them into real cities. We conquered swamp land and made it habitable and we raised our children to dream that someday there would be peace. We created universities and schools and parks.
But the Arabs would have none of it. In 1948, in 1956, again in 1967 and again in 1973 and again and again, almost daily, we fight off their attempts to do in 2014 what they failed to do in 1948. They have not learned and amazingly enough, John Kerry, neither have you.
We have built and evacuated whole communities; we have withdrawn from land in exchange for nothing but the hope that we could appease the "unappeasable.” We have flown around the world to help others – from earthquakes, tsunamis, devastating storms, famine and more.
We have allowed the Arabs – yes, allowed them, to fire tens of thousands of missiles at our cities and we know they have more than 170,000 more rockets and missiles ready to try again. At any time and with no notice whatsoever, we have the power to flatten Gaza into the world’s largest, flattest parking lot. And each time they attack, we think of it and know we can’t do it, won’t do it. And you would blame us for the failure to make peace?
When we attempt to stop them, to push back their military capabilities, just a bit, we aim for the rocket launchers, the arsenals, the training camps while they aim for our cities – Beersheva, Shderot, Ashkelon, Netivot, Ashdod. And you would threaten us for the ongoing state of war?
There cannot be peace until you recognize your enemy. There cannot be successful negotiations if you fail to understand those you would bring to the table. You fail on both counts.
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