For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
It now seems that one Jew is worth more than 1,000 Arabs—the rate of exchange established not by Israel, but by Hamas, and celebrated on the Arab street. The “prisoner swap” of more than a thousand Arab prisoners for the single Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, kidnapped five years ago and held in captivity for just this purpose, represents a gap between two civilizations that has been widening for over six decades with no signs of contraction in sight.
Arab leaders do not yet acknowledge that they sealed the doom of their societies in 1948 when they organized their politics against the Jewish state rather than toward the improvement of their countries. Like a great many autocrats, dictators, tyrants, and antiliberal rulers before them, the founders of the Arab League in 1945 found it convenient to mobilize against the Jews and against the competitive way of life they represent. Whereas Europeans were jolted by revelations of what came to be known as the Holocaust into awareness of the ruin anti-Semitism had wrought, Arab leaders saw in the Jews the same political opportunities that had enticed Germany. Anti-Semitism was the European ideology most eagerly imported and adapted to the Middle East.
Victims of this process have been slow to realize its debilitating effects. “What if Arabs had recognized the State of Israel in 1948?” asks Abdulateef Al-Mulhim in a recent column in Arab News: “Would the Arab world have been more stable, more democratic, and more advanced?” His affirmative answer emphasizes how much better off the Palestinians and their fellow Arabs, as well as non-Arab Muslims, would have been had some Arab leaders not used the Palestinians “for their own agenda to suppress their own people and to stay in power.” The Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh censures Fatah and Hamas for depriving thousands of Palestinians “in the two Palestinian states in the West Bank and Gaza Strip” of the individual liberties that flourish across the border in Israel. The Israel News channel YNet quotes a Syrian publicist as saying, “Our government shoots at us; Israel works to return even rotted bones. Maybe the problem is with us.” (He is referring to earlier prisoner exchanges where hundreds of Arab prisoners were traded for the corpses of Israeli soldiers.) Not until these sentiments prevail will Arab citizens begin to enjoy the opportunities Israelis take for granted.
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"