The government of Israel is again being pressured and attacked. It is again being forced to compromise and retreat without any similar request being transmitted to the other side , that is the Palestinian side. All this without any tangible guarantees or assurances.
Instead of the Palestinians offering concrete proposals to enhance the possibility of peace we are receiving vague promises from this American Administration. The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has offered Netanyahu some “gifts” in exchange for the building freeze in the Biblical heartland, among them 20 F-35 jets worth $3 billion, a veto on a unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians, and a vow that the freeze would not include Jerusalem.
President Obama wants this three month extension on the building freeze very badly and one must wonder, to what end. Three months of a freeze would do nothing for peace .It might only help to brush up the president’s tarnished image. In fact that may be the whole point.
In this week’s torah portion called Vayishlach ( which means he sent out) Genesis 32:4-36:43, we find Yaakov preparing himself for the potentially dangerous encounter with his estranged brother Esav. He does so in three ways: he prays to G-d ( Genesis 32:10) ; he divides his family into two camps as a protective measure in case of battle(ibid 32:8); and he sends gifts ahead to his brother ( ibid 32:22).
That, we are meant to learn, is the way to approach any individual or people coming against you. One must first turn to G-d in prayer ,then one must expect to be positively surprised and attempt to extend a hand for a real and rational peace ,Yet one must also be prepared for battle .
But in his prayer to G-d we learn much of Yaacov’s real fears.
In his prayer, he says, “Rescue me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esav, for I fear him lest he come and strike me down, mother and children.” There seems to be a redundancy here: Why did it not simply say “Rescue me, please, from the hand of my brother, Esav as opposed to the words “from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esav”
Both Rabbi Yosef Dov Halevi Soloveitchik, and the Ben Ish Hai zt’l, explain that Yaakov, as he awaits the meeting with his brother, faces two possible scenarios: Either Esav will pursue war and try to kill Yaakov, or he will “pursue peace and show brotherly love” for him.
Both of these scenarios frightened Yaakov greatly.
The prospect of war being frightening makes sense. Yet the so called “peace” concerned him as well . This is so because Yaakov’s idealism and G-d centered life might be compromised in the close contact with an evil and self serving philosophy of Esav . Just as importantly, Yaacov understood that statements of peace and goodwill may in fact be very hollow and dangerous . Many times they are simply a ruse and a camouflage .Therefore, he prays to Hashem to rescue him both “from my brother” (a friendly Esav) and “from Esav” (the hostile).
It is these scenarios that will haunt the Israeli government as they face the threats from the European union and the Obama administration on the one hand and the saccharine offers of guarantees on the other side .
“Rescue me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esav, for I fear him lest he come and strike me down, mother and children.”