Toledot

The Torah of Esau and Jacob, Gaza and Israel

This coming Shabbat (December 1, 2012)  of Torah readings completes a three-week saga of the struggle between two brothers –- Esau, older, stronger, rougher; and Jacob, weaker, smoother, sneakier, wilier. This is one of the many-times repeated exploration in the Book of Genesis of the struggle between older and younger siblings – all, I think, to teach the same lesson.  In this third week, the Esau-Jacob struggle is resolved in reconciliation.

Ironically, these three weeks are the same three weeks in which we’ve been suffering the Gaza-Israel War –-  its lead-up, its explosion, and its cease-fire. The cease-fire certainly does not mean Israel and Palestine have yet achieved a reconciliation.  But the arc of our just-lived history and the arc of the Torah story bear some resemblance. Indeed, the Torah story might teach us

Long-term Truce or Another Gaza War?

This Haaretz article raises profound questions about the Israeli government’s decision to assassinate a leader of Hamas. It appeared on November 15. Haaretz is often called “the New York Times of Israel.” My own comments will follow the article, both on the realpolitik of today and on how Torah might address these issues.  — AW
  
Israeli peace activist: Hamas leader Jabari killed amid talks on long-term truce

Gershon Baskin, who helped mediate between Israel and Hamas in the deal to release Gilad Shalit, says Israel made a mistake that will cost the lives of ‘innocent people on both sides.’
   By Nir Hasson      |   Haaretz /    Nov.15, 2012 | 1:55 PM |  38
     
Hours before Hamas strongman Ahmed Jabari was assassinated, he received the draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel, which included mechanisms for maintaining the cease-fire in the case of a flare-up between Israel and the factions in the Gaza Strip. This, according to Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who helped mediate between Israel and Hamas in the deal to release Gilad Shalit and has since then maintained a relationship with Hamas leaders.

Baskin told Haaretz on Thursday that senior officials in Israel knew about his contacts with Hamas and Egyptian intelligence aimed at formulating the permanent truce, but nevertheless approved the assassination.

“I think that they have made a strategic mistake,” Baskin said, an error “which will cost the lives of quite a number of innocent people on both sides.”
         
“This blood could have been spared. Those who made the decision must be judged by the voters, but to my regret they will get more votes because of this,” he added.

Baskin made Jabari’s acquaintance when he served as a mediator between David Meidin, Israel’s representative to the Shalit negotiations, and Jabari. “Jabari was the all-powerful man in charge. He always received the messages via a third party, Razi Hamad of Hamas, who called him Mister J.”
         
For months, Baskin sent daily messages in advance of the formulation of the deal. He kept the channel of communication with Gaza open even after the Shalit deal was completed.

According to Baskin, during the past two years Jabari internalized the realization that the rounds of hostilities with Israel were beneficial neither to Hamas

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