In his op-ed “In Support of Obama and Hagel” (February 1), Rabbi Barry Schwartz cites the need for a two-state solution no less than five times. I doubt many would argue with his sentiment if it could truly lead to an enduring peace. However, when Rabbi Schwartz goes on to say that without a political agreement, “both Israelis and Palestinians will continue to lose hope, abandoning leaders who speak of compromise,” he loses me. I’m fairly certain that among the leaders Rabbi Schwartz is referring to on the Israeli side are Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, both of whom, one publicly, the other behind the scenes, made very generous land offers in the name of peace. But who are the Palestinian leaders who have spoken of compromise who are referenced in that sentence? Yassir Arafat responded to Barak’s peace overture by starting the second intifada. Abbas simply walked away from Olmert’s offer. How serious could either have been about peace and compromise if they didn’t even make a counter offer? Has any Palestinian leader ever spoken to his people about the need for compromise and peaceful coexistence to gain statehood, and along with it a healthy, vibrant economy?
There is a reason why the Jews of Israel, eternal optimists who stand to benefit greatly from a peaceful resolution to the Palestinian conflict, become less and less interested in talks with their neighbors over time.