Almost every responsible political leader today expresses a desire to contribute to peace in the Middle East. Easier said than done. A real effort to promote peace requires an understanding of what motivates the parties to the conflict.I can't say I quite get what makes the Palestinians tick. Like the late statesman Abba Eban, I haven't grasped why Palestinian leaders never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.But I do believe that anyone who genuinely seeks peace, or who aspires to be a friend of the Israeli people, should consider four key factors that inform the Israeli worldview.
GeographyThe throwaway line these days is that geography no longer matters in an era of long-range missiles. Not so fast.As the late Sir Isaiah Berlin famously quipped, "The Jews have enjoyed rather too much history and too little geography."Israel is a small country, about the size of New Jersey or Wales, and barely two-thirds the size of Belgium. To put it into context, Egypt is approximately fifty times larger than Israel, Saudi Arabia a hundred times.And there's more. Until its 1967 war for survival, Israel's borders, which were nothing more than the armistice lines from the 1948 War of Independence, were nine miles at their narrowest point, near the country's midsection and most populous area.When President George W. Bush first saw that narrow width from the vantage point of a helicopter, he was reported to have said, "There are some driveways in Texas longer than Israel is wide."Topography matters too. When the towering Golan Heights were in the hands of Syria before the Six-Day War, for example, Jewish villages and farms below were regularly targeted by Syrian shelling. Ask my wife. She was a volunteer in a kibbutz there. With the Golan Heights in Israel's hands, those villages and farms no longer have to rush their children into underground shelters.
My comment is that I found this to be so true as I lived in Haifa and Safed from 1980-1985 and saw how very small Israel truly is. That's why I'm constantly amazed at the willingness of our country to divide it up more and give parts of it away continually. This will never lead to peace, only the destruction of Israel. We started with a piece of land bigger, and it has constantly been chopped apart. We gained land in 1967 but have lost other parts since then for peace which has not come. Has anyone learned a lesson here?