Peace Tomorrow, Not Now

When speaking of peace, the word shalom has a context of holiness. A Jewish peace is not a handshake or a piece of paper, which more accurately is a truce.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

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The word shalom is one of the Jewish names of G-d. One should be careful when using the word in its context of "peace", as opposed to its use even in the English language as a standard "hello" and "goodbye" greeting. Even that is proscribed by Jewish law, which prohibits mentioning the name of G-d, including greeting someone with "shalom", in the bathroom.

When speaking of peace, the word shalom has a context of holiness. A Jewish peace is not a handshake or a piece of paper, which more accurately is a truce.

One of the most popular references in the nationalist religious camp to peace negotiations is the phrase from Psalms 120:7, "I am peace, and when I say peace, they say war."

The issue is not one of semantics. There is a basic gap in understanding that is obvious in the arguments between the left-wing and right-wing camps. The political factions that for years have tried to appease Arabs in the name of peace have a built-in and unjustified halo by being termed the "peace camp".

That title automatically vilifies the nationalist religious camp, which implicitly is not for peace when juxtaposed against the peace camp. The question often posed to the right-wing is, "Why are you against peace?"

Modern Israel's history of "peace" agreements offers sad proof of the failure to reach peace and why the nationalist camp opposes hasty accords. A look at the history of broken truces between Israel and the Arabs proves that peace, under the guidance of the United States, is not what has been achieved by Israel.

The most grotesque lie is the Egypt-Israel "peace accords" signed in 1978, which were followed by an agreement the following year paving the way for expelling Jewish residents from Yamit in the Sinai Peninsula and giving the area to Egypt. In return, Israel received "peace", or as national-religious punsters say, a piece of paper.

At best, it was a truce. Egypt has not repeated its 1973 Yom Kippur Day invasion of Israel. It established diplomatic relations with Israel, although it only recently returned its ambassador after a four-year hiatus following the September 2000 outbreak of an all-out terrorist war against Israel, aided and abetted by Egypt. The attacks, which have killed more than 1,000 Israelis, were launched from Judea, Samaria and Gaza, but most of the weapons and the expertise behind the attacks came from Arab countries, including Egypt. Cairo did almost nothing the past five years to try to prevent terrorists from digging tunnels under the border with Israel and smuggling drugs, women, terrorists and ammunition into Gaza.

The most recent betrayal of trust was the open border between Gaza and Egypt, days after Egypt and Israel signed an agreement calling for strict Egyptian supervision to prevent terrorists and their weapons from entering Gaza. Even the Palestinian Authority admits that large amounts of weapons, not to forget terrorists from other Arab countries, exploited the Egyptian laxity to enrich their arsenal for the next attacks against Israel.

The Westernization of Israel has cost Israel basic traditions and values, one of them being the traditional Jewish understanding of the word "peace". Jewish thought contradicts one of the favorite "peace camp" sayings: "One makes peace with enemies and not with friends." That expression is the 21st-century version of the "peace and love" simpletons of the Woodstock era. One indeed makes peace with friends. With enemies, one can make a truce or war. Making peace with them is a semantic camouflage for suicide.

The nationalist religious camp indeed is against "peace now", which has brought about truce after truce, most of which have ended up as tattered and sometimes bloody pieces of paper.

Former President Bill Clinton called it a New Middle East. He created a new one, but not the one he wanted, and it literally blew up in Israel's collective face.

President George W. Bush's Roadmap is taking more time, but it is based on the same ignorance of the true meaning of the word peace, and is conditioned on the hope that a few billion dollars will bribe the Arabs into forsaking their nightmarish dream of taking over Jerusalem and wiping out Israel. The same hope figures that Israel - believing that Arabs are using money to build an economy, even though they continue to build weapons factories for suicide bombers - will happily hand over Judea and Samaria in return for "peace".

When Israel sits down with Arabs and speaks of peace, both sides are talking about two different things.

True peace may come tomorrow only if we stop trying to get peace now.