Israel’s Obligation to Arabs

by Rabbi David Zaslow and Rabbi Victor Gross
Spring, 2009

As the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel assures its citizens (Jewish and non-Jewish) the same rights and protection under the law. The question is not about Israel’s obligations to Arabs – that is clear. Under its constitution, Israel is obliged to treat its citizens fairly – which it valiantly tries to do under extraordinary circumstances.

In the Torah G-d commands us to treat strangers the same way we treat ourselves. We’re commanded to love our neighbors. In Torah the intimate link between brothers is clear – between Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, and even Moses and Pharaoh. Each has a unique covenantal relationship.

Einstein said, “no problem can be solved with the same consciousness that caused it.” The relational problems between Arabs and Jews cannot be solved from the same level of consciousness that has existed for centuries. Both Arab and Jew must recognize their collective history and awaken to G-d’s promises as outlined by the prophets. Until people recognize, as Pogo did, that “they have met the enemy and they are us” they will continue to exist at the level that bred the problem.

We await the day when our cousins, the children of Ishmael, welcome us to our ancient homeland so we can coexist in peace. We look forward to the day when all shall live in peace, each under his/her own vine and fig tree, when none shall be afraid.

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