Professor Stephen Berk
Professor of History, the Holocaust and Jewish Studies Congregation Agudat Achim's
Scholar-in-Residence for over 30 years
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Dr. Stephen M. Berk
on May 10, 2011 at 9:17 PM
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9:30 PM on May 18, 2011
In total agreement with Danny and am interested in your response.
1:24 PM on May 17, 2011
After having just listened to ths NPR podcast, as well as just having attended your discussion last night at Agudat Achim, I am just filled with so many things to say, so many points to make, so many nuances to point out that I can hardly contain myself. However I know that it may not be useful to get everything I would like to in this response so I will do my best to be brief.
Having listened to this Israeli Arab man, I would say, paraphrasing Prime Minister Thatcher after her first meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev, 'this is a man with whom we can do business.' That being said, I also am aware of how interesting his comments and how special this was for NPR and for the interviewer because of how rarely, if ever, we hear such comments from an Arab or Islamic person, especially from a person who is an Arab community leader. I highly respect the courage this man has to make some of the clear statements he made in such a public forum. If he were an Israeli or a Jew, this interview would hardly be newsworthy.... there are so many leftist and centrist Jews who already say many of the things this man said that it is almost commonplace in large segments of Israeli and Jewish communities. However to hear an Arab man, one who is an Israeli citizen while identifying strongly as an Arab, say that the Jewish people have a homeland in Israel and that fact cannot change, is truly rare and heartening. At the same time, the views of this man are so exceptional that I do not believe that his nature warrants a leap of faith by Israelis and Jews that there are enough Arabs who share this man's openness and enlightenment to allow the major risk-taking in the name of peace. The time has not yet arrived where Israelis and Jews can trust that taking risks for peace will be answered with anything but increased belligerence, demands for more concessions, and a less secure Israel, both from her Arab neighbors and global opinion. Much as I hope that this Israeli Arab is sincere, successful and able to promote his ideas, I feel that it will be a long, long time before there is a critical mass of Arabs who will accept his peaceful, accommodating ideas and renounce their long term absolute hostility and antipathy towards Jews and Israel.
This relates to something that I wanted to add to my comments/questions to you last night at Agudat. With all the concessions that I feel Israel has already made and offered in the name of peace, material concessions such as valuable land, money, and economic development/trade, withdrawal from Gaza & Lebanon and more symbolic concessions such as reductions in checkpoints, settlement freezes, military restraint in responding to missile attacks, homicide bombers, etc.... with so many concessions, the Israelis have not only not received any credit from their neighbors nor the international community, but in return have recieved more missiles, more hostility, more bold belligerence and more demands for concessions. So even though you pointed out last night some concessions that are minor and not dangerous to Israeli security, it seems that any concessions, material, symbolic or otherwise, are treated, not it the spirit of a peace offering, but as Israeli weakness and cause for more agression to get more and more until there is no Israel left to offer. At this point I don't see that Israel should make any further unilateral offers until we see some serious good faith offers from the other side, till we indeed have evidence for a true "partner" for peace.
9:21 PM on May 10, 2011
I am interested in what you think about this podcast from NPR. Just press the play button, the Podcast is about 52 minutes long.
Dr. Stephen M. Berk (11)