In July 1994, my eldest son Arik, of blessed memory, was kidnapped and killed by Hamas murderers. Since then, as a religious Jew and Zionist, it has been important for me to try and understand if it is our fate in Israel and the Middle East to live forever on our swords, or if we are not capable of assuring peace and security for our children.
I pray three times a day that "He will bestow peace upon us." Twice a day I pray, "Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one." In my philosophy, the whole of Eretz Yisrael belongs to the people of Israel, as God promised to Abraham, Isaac an Jacob. But I say in the same breath that the wholeness of Israel does not warrant bloodshed or death, even of one person.
In my Jewish outlook, man is born to serve God and that is his mission and his obligation and, consequently, human life is the supreme value. Only when we understand that there is only one God in the world and all the different symbols are but symbols and under no circumstances worthy of dying for - only then will we reach the stage of "bestowing peace upon us."
We must understand that, like us, the Palestinian is born in the image of God. What is ideal peace? It means no hatred, no hostility, mutual respect and appreciation. Peace means there are no borders and there is security.
Now, let us try to construct a peaceful solution founded, first, on Jewish sources and, second, on practicality and logic.

Jewish Sources

There is an approach in Judaism based on the words of the Ramban (Rabbi Moshe Ben Nahminides) according to which the settlement of the Land is one of the 613 commands. According to this approach, one can go to war on condition there are oracles and a king, which we do not have nowadays. On the other hand, the Ramban, Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimonides does not see in the command to settle the Land one of the commands according to the Torah (the Law).
According to the command "You will not show mercy to them" (lo techunam), it is forbidden to allow Gentiles to live in the Land. But the command is controversial. Is it referring to forbidding encampment, that means dwelling, or does it refer to liking them (another interpretation of the Hebrew word)? Those who claim that it means not allowing encampment on the ground speak of star worshippers and idolaters. The Arabs are certainly not idolaters, but believers in our God, and if they are idolaters, then so are we.
Rabbi Yitzhak Herzog, of blessed memory, dwelt on the subject of the status of the Palestinians as strangers (Gerim) living in the Land and clearly determined that they are not idolaters and not like those Gentiles to whom the "no mercy" command applies. The sanctity of the Land also continues if Israel doesn't rule over it.
In spite of the divine promise, the Patriarch Abraham himself compromised for the sake of peace with Lot's shepherds, telling them, "If thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left." From the Jewish point of view, peace is such a supreme value that in the sources it is noted, "The Holy One fabricated in order to bring peace"; in other words, He "lied" in order to make peace.
Chief Rabbi Kook, of blessed memory, who laid down that Eretz Yisrael is the foundation of the seat of God and, accordingly, one must do everything to preserve the integrity of Eretz Yisrael, also decreed that one must listen to the rulers of the Land. He explained that, in effect, the democratic ruler of the country enjoys the status of the biblical king and he must be heard if he wants to make political compromise in order to achieve peace.
Over and above all these arguments, it must be remembered that before the 613 commandments to which the Jews are committed, there are the seven Noachic commandments which also obligate the Jews. In the framework of these commandments is that of "You shall not kill," against killing any person as a person.
In conclusion of these paragraphs dealing briefly with Jewish sources, I want to note that in the division between commandments on the relations between man and God and those between man and his fellow man, one must first of all observe the latter. One can certainly not observe commandments on man and place at the expense of those between man and man. We must, therefore, find a solution to the Jewish-Palestinian problem through observing the commandments on man and man.

A Pragmatic Solution

When my son Arik was murdered, the whole of the people of Israel wept with me and my family, and felt our pain. While we Jews saw Arik's death as murder, the Palestinian people, on the other hand, saw in this murder a means to further the goal of a Palestinian state. These different approaches led me to a general understanding that what is just in our eyes is not necessarily just in Palestinian eyes. In the light of this, I seek a solution of intelligent logic rather than justice.
A pragmatic solution means a separation between Palestinians and Israelis, assuring them of a state within the 1967 borders, with minor security adjustments which will leave Israel with up to seven percent of the whole of the West Bank. This involves annexing to Israel those territories where a total of 75 percent of the settlers live. An extra-territorial passage must be afforded between Gaza and the Hebron area, so that the residents of Gaza (800,000 people) will be part of a Palestinian state.
It should be agreed that the Palestinian state will have no army or heavy arms and Israel will lease from the Palestinians for 100 years a number of areas where the Israeli army should remain as a reserve force, in case of an anticipated danger on the eastern border. These areas, which will be of minimal size, will belong to the Palestinian state, but will be used by the Israeli army as part of the solution to the principal security-related problem - the fear that the Palestinians or the Iraqis or Iranians will want to attack us.
On the subject of Jerusalem, the Old City will not be divided, but will be jointly administered by the Israelis and the Palestinians. The significance of this is joint sovereignty between the two peoples over the Old City. For two years, the mayor of the Old City will be an Israeli with a Palestinian deputy, followed by two years with a Palestinian mayor and an Israeli deputy. In practice, we will begin to foster real peace within the walls of the Old City. The neighborhoods outside the Old City where the Jews live will be annexed to Israel; those where the Palestinians live will be annexed to the Palestinian state.
The great question still left open is whether to implement physical separation, including mined borders and walls, or whether one can achieve a peace the significance of which is doing away with borders and walls.
Many meetings with Palestinians have led me to recognize and understand that, if the Palestinian Authority (PA) - which will become a legal government - reaches an agreement with us on security and terror, it may be possible to live with open borders. This is conditioned upon a strong emphasis in the Jewish and the Palestinian populations that terror is rejected and upon a permanent struggle against terror and its initiators.

An Imperfect Peace

Peace must not remain only as a prayer without our working unceasingly to realize it. The peace process as such must not become the main thing while peace itself becomes an illusion. Extremists must not be allowed to lead us and disrupt our public agenda. We must do everything, within the framework of the law and without the use of inappropriate means, to reach a peace of compromise. We must continue with the peace process until peace is won, in the understanding that peace will not be a perfect one, but one of compromise.
In order to make peace, a quick and efficient process of changing thinking habits must take place. About half the people in Israel are accustomed to thinking that the establishment of a Palestinian state is forbidden because it contradicts the Jewish law (Halacha), that Jerusalem is now united and it is forbidden to compromise over the city for the sake of peace, that as human beings the Palestinians are different from the Israelis and that they deserve their present status.
All these thoughts are wrong. Until we take quick action, of a year or two, to change these thinking habits, we won't succeed in making peace. Neither the late Yitzhak Rabin nor Shimon Peres nor Ehud Barak nor Yossi Beilin could and can make peace, however much they want this, since a large part of the people is opposed. The sympathies of these people will not be with the peacemakers until thinking habits change.

The Goal: to Change Thinking Habits

For some years, I have been working on a simple and practical plan for changing thinking habits. It is primarily based on the basic principle of marketing: that a change in consumer habits is not the same as marketing a new product. The way to change consumer habits differs in essence from marketing a specific product. When I am producing vegetarian sausages whose taste and texture are identical with meat sausages, I want to market my new product as a substitute for meat sausages and mainly through a change in consumer habits.
I have to persuade the client who is accustomed to a certain product to try a new one. I have to convince him that the new product is better than the one he is used to. The change won't be simple and fast. It isn't enough to give samples, to advertise in the media: I have to work for an extended period in large frameworks and bring experts with credibility to explain to the public the advantages of the new product. If I have a good product at a good price, and if I invest correctly in promotion, the results can be startling.
Now let us move on from a substitute for sausages to a substitute for war. We have to approach the Jewish people in Israel and abroad and persuade them through people with credibility, who speak the language of Halacha and of Judaism. They will have no wish to enter Israeli politics, but possess a strong will to change things in Israel, not because of weakness or out of love for the Palestinians or out of hatred for the settlers or disregard for Jewish traditions.
With both a large religious Zionist group numbering over 5,000 serious Israelis, and a big group of bereaved parents and victims of terror all of whom support peace - over 50 such families whom I organized during my first year of mourning - one can work to change thinking habits.
It should be noted that there is a qualitative difference between us and Peace Now or any other leftist Israeli movement. We speak from Halachic arguments, from within Judaism. We, ourselves, are religious people who pray daily to God, religious in our whole approach and way of life. The plan to change thinking habits is founded on mobilizing suitable people from the human reserves that I mentioned. It will reach the radio, television, film, the press, schools, educational trips, etc. It will not be easy and it will be friendly rather than aggressive, but I am convinced that, in a year, we can start to change habits of thinking.

Peace and Compromise

Those who set about this task have to come from the people: on the one hand, from the religious Zionist camp and, on the other, from the group of bereaved parents and victims of terror. All wholeheartedly believe that the problems between us and the Palestinians can be solved through compromise and agreement, preserving the strength of the Israeli Defense Forces as a defense force and not a force policing the territories.
We have to understand each other's anguish - the Palestinians and the Israelis equally. We have to crystallize a solution in accordance with these feelings of distress on both sides, which will provide an answer to both and which must bring about a compromise between them. We have to implement the solution and reach peace through mutual agreement.
Ideal peace sounds like a vision of the end of days, some sort of unachievable goal. Peace means wholeness - be it political, in relations with neighbors, or in connection with the Land. To reach peace, however, we must compromise and, by nature, compromise negates wholeness, for in compromising over parts of Eretz Yisrael, again there is no "whole" or "greater" Israel. It is the same for the Palestinians. Compromising on their dream of the whole of Palestine again gives them not wholeness but compromise. Perhaps in our world this is real peace. In other words, visionary peace is Utopian and not realistic, while real peace is one of compromise.
In order for one to understand the distress of the other, the Palestinians must understand that all the settlers cannot be evacuated, for this would cause a civil war and, at all events, it won't bring peace. We want to achieve a peace agreement which will secure for the Palestinians what they lack, a state where they will be able to live in dignity alongside Israel. They must understand that one cannot, on the one hand, speak of peace and, on the other, encourage terror and call suicide bombers martyrs.
The Israelis for their part must understand that one cannot rule over another people and neither can one solve problems by sloganeering about a "greater Israel." They have to know that the Palestinians must achieve statehood in the 1967 borders, with minor security adjustments; that peace is impossible without finding a way to solve the Jerusalem question - a way in which both Israelis and Palestinians find an answer to their expectations and where the necessary compromise will put an end to bloodshed.