A Prayer for Peace

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein  |  January 12, 2017

Five young soldiers praying at the Western Wall.

Dear Friend of Israel

On Sunday, January 15, another “peace summit” on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will be held in Paris.

Representatives from 70 countries, including the U.S., are slated to attend. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has already declined an invitation, stating that peace can only come through direct negotiations. Given the failure of such conferences in the past – and Israel’s fear that the conference will result in yet another anti-Israel resolution from the United Nations – Netanyahu’s refusal is well-justified. Palestinian leadership will not be there either.

Two recent events will cast a shadow over the Paris meeting. The first is the recent passage of the one-sided and unfair United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which declares Israeli “settlements” to be illegal and an obstacle to peace. The second is a recent terror attack in Jerusalem, when a crazed terrorist drove a truck into a crowd of IDF cadets, killing four and injuring 15.

Passage of the resolution showed that the U.N. is still determined to fixate on Israel as the source of all the ills in the Middle East. The attack in Jerusalem underscored the painful reality Israelis must live with every day. Like everyone else, Israelis must take their children to school, go to work, go to the grocery store. But when they do, they know they risk being attacked by people whose hatred for them is so deep-seated that those attackers would rather murder innocent people than make peace.

This is why Israelis are so angered when they hear about U.N. resolutions that single out their nation for censure. They are understandably infuriated by the thought of officials from other countries telling them that Israel is the primary obstacle to peace, and that they must put their country’s future in the hands of those who do not have their best interests at heart – or who are openly hostile to the Jewish state.

The truth is, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will never be “solved” by a third party. Israel has repeatedly offered concessions aimed at securing peace with her neighbors, and those concessions have time and again been rebuffed. Peacemaking requires a will to make peace. Israel has it; Palestinian leadership does not.

If the nations that will gather in Paris on Sunday really wanted peace, they would demand that the Palestinians accept Israel’s existence. They would demand that Israel be recognized as a full and respected member of the community of nations. And they would understand that brutal attacks like the one in Jerusalem just days ago show the true colors of Israel’s foes – and that no country can tolerate such attacks, or the continued threats of such attacks, upon its people.

I will continue to hope and pray for peace, as we all should. But peace, if it comes, will come with a change of heart on the part of Palestinian leadership – not in a pronouncement from a meeting room in Paris.

With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President