The following was printed in the Yated paper from last week. It caught my eye, not because I agree but because it is a different perspective of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The author, Rabbi Dov Brezak, used his column on educating one’s children as a forum to share this story before continuing his discussion on how to make one’s Shabbat table a tranquil space for the whole family.
Last Sunday was Nakba Day. Nakba is an Arabic term that means catastrophe. “Day of Catastrophe” is the name the Arabs have given to the day Israel declared its independence.
Thousands of Palestinians rioted and tried to cross the borders with Israel. In Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and many other areas, they made their presence felt. Fifteen Arabs were killed and hundreds were wounded.
It was almost 9 p.m. I was rushing to the Beis Hamussar (instituted by Rav Shlomo Wolbe zt”l), where I was to give the first in a series of lectures on parenting. As I was running a bit late, I hailed a taxi. I was in too much of a hurry to notice who the taxi driver was, or to be concerned over the fact that he was an Arab, that it was still Nakba Day, and that the situation could be dangerous.
The driver did not speak much. He had the radio on, tuned to Galei Tzahal, the Israeli army radio station. The 9 p.m. news came on, and I listened to a report about the rioting across the country. There was an interview with one of the rioters, who spoke in Arabic. When the interview was over, I heard my driver laugh quietly. I asked him what the young rioter had said. “He is a Palestinian,” he told me, “and even though he personally is not against the Israelis, he feels that it’s not fair that the Palestinians’ land was taken from them.”
As it would be another few minutes before we arrived at our destination, I asked the Arab driver,”And how do you feel about it?”
He became emotional and seemed nervous as he began to speak. “If the Israeli government were religious, there would be no problem,” he said. “I am a Palestinian living here in Israel, and we Muslims are religious. The Israeli government is not doing things right; they’re not going about trying to work things out in the right way. If the government had been chareidi, even dati, we would have been able to work things out a long time ago. But because the government is not religious, this is dragging on and we’re not able to find common ground!”
By then we had arrived, so there was no more time to discuss the issue. I thanked him for his opinion, paid him his fare, and hurried out to give my shiur – but in my mind I couldn’t help but agree with him.
At the start of the peace process that Yitzchak Rabin initiated, Rav Wolbe said that it would not work. The only peace that will work, he said, is the peace that has Hashem’s Name in it or part of it.
When Winston Churchill and Dwight D. Eisenhower went to war against Germany, they met on a boat at sea and Tehillim was said. Because they remembered Hashem, said Rav Wolbe, they suceeded. But if the Name of Hashem is not relevant in a peace process, then no peace will come from the process.
The words of the Arab taxi driver ring true relative to other areas as well. Indeed, following the Torah way is the solution to the many problems we are facing today.