What risks can you be willing to take?
It is hard not to become caught up with the immediacy of
an issue. Especially when one is concerned with a subject like peace, there is a natural
desire to hastily seek an agreement as soon as possible. Nevertheless, this feeling of
immediacy should never be allowed to obscure the priorities involved. If the peace is to
last longer than the time it took to hammer out the agreement, we must make sure that it
realistically answers the objectives that we seek.
What does Israel want out of peace? Two fundamental objectives:
- that it be secure against attack from the surrounding Arab nations;
- that its citizens may rest assured that their lives will not be endangered by terrorist
These objectives are primarily military issues. Therefore it is military experts who
should be consulted for the parameters according to which any negotiations should be
To refer to a parallel: When there is a question of whether the Sabbath laws must be
violated to save the life of a patient, the Torah prescribes that one ask an expert - a
doctor; more specifically, a doctor in the relevant field. For a heart condition one
consults a cardiologist, not a dermatologist.
To return to the analog: There are many dimensions to the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Nevertheless, just as when a person has a heart condition, it is the cardiologist whose
opinion is given highest priority, since Israel's fundamental concerns are questions of
security, it is the opinions of military men and particularly, those trained in the issues
at hand, that must determine the guidelines - and the red lines - for negotiations.
When military experts are asked, they explain that it is absolutely necessary for
Israel to maintain possession of the lands taken in the Six-Day War. The reasons for this
stance are plainly obvious.
The Golan Heights command control of the entire Galilee, Israel's north. Missiles and
artillery placed in the Golan could easily destroy civilian centers and military bases in
the Galilee. Moreover, even in our age of hi-tech weaponry, fighting uphill is much more
difficult than fighting downhill or fighting on level terrain. Thus, if Syrian troops
would attack from the Golan, Israel would be put in a defensive position that would be
very challenging to turn around.