From Gush Shalom
NOBODY DESCRIBED the outbreak of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict better than the historian Isaac Deutscher.
A man lives in a house that catches fire. To save his life, he jumps out of the window. He lands on a passer-by in the street below and injures him grievously. Between the two a bitter enmity arises. Who is to blame?
Of course, no parable can reflect reality exactly. The man who jumped out of the burning house did not land on this particular passer-by by chance. The passer-by became an invalid for life. But on the whole, this parable is better than any other I know.
Deutscher did not provide an answer to the question of how to solve the conflict. Are the two condemned to fight each other forever? Is there a solution at all?
COMMON SENSE would say: of course there is. True, the injured person cannot be restored to his former condition. The man who caused the injury cannot return to his former home, which was destroyed by the fire. But...
But the man can -- and must -- apologize to his victim. That is the minimum. He can -- and must -- pay him compensation. That is what justice demands. But then the two can become friends. Perhaps even partners.
Instead, the man continues to harm the victim. He invades the victim's home and throws him out. The victim's sons try to evict the man. And so it goes on.
Deutscher himself, who fled the Nazis from Poland to England in time, did not see the continuation of the story. He died a few days after the Six-day War.
INSTEAD OF quarreling endlessly about who was right and who was wrong, how wonderful we are and how abhorrent the others are, we should think about the future.
What do we want? What kind of a state do we want to live in? How do we end the occupation, and what will come after?
Israel is divided between "Left" and "Right." I don't like these terms -- they are obvious misnomers. They were created in the French National Assembly more than 200 years ago by the accidental seating of the parties in the hall at the time, as seen by the speaker. But let's use them for convenience sake.
The real division is between those who prefer the people to the land, and those who prefer the land to the people. Which is more sacred?
In the early days of the state there was a joke making the rounds. God summoned David Ben-Gurion and told him: you have done great things for my people, make a wish and I shall grant it.