July 25, 2000
The recognition by the Arab world, and not just the Palestinians, of Israel’s full
right to live in peace and security, within recognized borders and with
Jerusalem as its capital city, is no less a central issue, in the Arab-Israeli
conflict as the status of Jerusalem per se.
Tens of millions of schoolchildren in the Arab world learn that Zionism is only a
passing imperialist event in the history of the Middle East. Groups of
opinion-makers, the elites, in the Islamic countries continue to foster unrelenting
hatred of Israel and expel from their midst anyone who merely comes into
contact with it.
The Israeli public opinion has become increasingly flexible on various key issues
but where the parallel flexibility is in the Arab world. Where is the Palestinian
and pan-Arab willingness for a substantive and democratic change in their
national approach to Israel and Zionism?
On the ground, not even the buds of a new Palestinian and Arab ethos –
in which the Jew ceases to fulfill the role of an alien, invasive, occupying,
rootless and passing growth – are to be seen.
It is possible that peace entails far-reaching Israeli concessions on Jerusalem,
but it also entails something even more important.
From the moment a peace agreement is signed, schools in Gaza, Cairo
and Mecca must begin to teach seriously about the national rights of the
Jewish People in the Land of Israel and their links to it. Reconciliation and truth
cannot be unilateral steps.