Israel: What It's Like to Live Without a Day of Peace

[Publico-Portugal/AJC] Interview with David Harris - The Jewish people have prayed for peace for three thousand years. The word shalom (peace) came long before the same word in other languages. But when someone threatens to kill us, for us these are not just words: Stalin wanted to do it, Hitler wanted to do it, and we believe that Ahmadinejad wants to do it. How do we deal with those who want to kill us? You live in a good situation: Nobody wants to destroy Portugal. You wake up in the morning and don't hear anyone in Spain or France saying, "We will destroy Portugal." Israel wakes up every morning and listens to the Iranian president, alongside Hizballah and Hamas, repeating that they seek to destroy the State of Israel. What should Israel do? It should strengthen its military capabilities, use force if necessary, and, simultaneously, if and when leaders in other countries are interested in signing peace treaties, as happened with Egypt and Jordan, it should pursue peace with those countries. I don't think there is any country in the world that aspires to peace more than Israel. People outside Israel cannot understand what it means to live without a day of peace for 58 years; to be surrounded by countries that seek its destruction; knowing that a terrorist or military attack is possible at any given moment. Is this situation normal? To confront it, Israel needs to have a strong military. There is no other choice in this part of the world. Countries in this region do not respect weakness. Second, Israel needs to seek partners who are ready to compromise. If I sit down with Hizballah, what is there to discuss? The terms of my own destruction? And with Hamas? What am I going to discuss? My own destruction? David Harris is executive director of the American Jewish Committee.

2006-09-22 01:00:00

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