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Israel, UAE and Bahrain Peace Agreements

 

[Prepared by Tzvi Fishman]

 

Question: What is Ha-Rav's opinion regarding the peace agreements which Israel signed with the UAE and Bahrain?

Answer: The agreements are praiseworthy for three reasons.

Firstly, in principle, we are in favor of peace, for the Jewish People, and for the entire world. We believe in the ideal of universal brotherhood and friendship whereby every nation can develop in its optimum manner, while retaining its own independent nationality. Just as we want this national and cultural freedom for ourselves, we want it for other nations as well. Ha-Rav Kook calls this principle: "The line that connects, and the line that divides." We are to be "a Nation that dwells alone" in the sense of retaining our cultural and religious uniqueness, while still being connected to the world as the lifeline of Divine blessing to all peoples on Earth. Co-existence based on mutual respect, as opposed to Pan-Americanism which seeks to impose American culture and control throughout the globe.  To be an independent nation in the community of independent nations was one of the visions we had upon the founding of the State of Israel. Unfortunately, our Arab neighbors did not agree, and we have been forced to fight many painful wars. Patience, patience, patience. As our Sages teach, the Redemption of Israel comes a little at a time (Jerusalem Talmud, Berachot 1:1). If some Arab countries now want normalization and peace, this is a desirable development.

Secondly, more practically, in the global village we inhabit, a country cannot be autonomous and narcissistic, wanting to live all by itself. It would simply fall apart. Nations need other nations to survive, for economic reasons, security, and the like. Therefore, countries must have all sorts of connections.

Thirdly, we are a small country, and in many ways, isolated. Thus Ben Gurion sought to form alliances with other nations, as many as possible. He was right, and from then on, we have been trying to expand our connections. You can ask, do I believe that the UAE wants to be connected with us for the Sake of Heaven? I don’t believe that for a second. They are interested to enter into an agreement with us for their own needs. In this case, Baruch Hashem, their interests are in line with ours. In truth, we have had connections with them for some time. For political reasons on our part, and because more expanded economic ties are needed on theirs, the matter has gone public. Politics resembles big business. A person doesn’t necessarily buy fruit at a certain supermarket because he loves the owner, but because the merchandise is better and cheaper. Why are these Arab countries turning toward Israel? Because the Corona pandemic has caused them economic instability. Their tourist industry has been crippled. They would like to fill up their empty hotels with travel-loving Israelis. I know this from two very reliable sources. One of them runs a very prosperous food business in Israel. He says he has received so many orders from the UAE for Kosher Food that he could retire for the rest of his life... Whatever other reasons they have, the present agreement is positive. We know treaties can be discarded should circumstances change, but for now, Baruch Hashem.