Henry Kissinger took the stage to receive Israel’s President’s Medal – the highest award the State of Israel issues to a civilian. I have many thoughts about Henry Kissinger – most not positive. A short and meaningful video was presented to the thousands of people in the hall. I was glad they ran the video because it reminded me of the one thing Israel does owe Kissinger – in 1973, Israel was attacked (again) and the situation looked dire. The United States – Kissinger and Nixon had planes landing and played a critical role in Israel’s ability to not only continue to defend itself, but turn the tide.
Kissinger’s speech was moving, humorous, challenging and yes, to some extent insulting. He is an arrogant man. Perhaps at 89 he has earned this. I’m not sure. He started by saying that an 89 year old man does not often say he wishes is parents were alive to see this moment – he added that of all the honors and prizes he has been given, this one, from Israel, would have meant the most to his parents.
After that, it was back to the arrogance. He wanted to tell Israel what is needed for peace. Of course, we didn’t really achieve peace while he was in power. Yes, there was an agreement with Egypt…but is it peace? Already, the Egyptians are debating whether to maintain it. Is the absence of war the best definition of peace?
So Kissinger came to receive his award…which perhaps should have been given to Jonathan Pollard – but that’s another post…and tell us how to make peace. There are two things needed for peace. I listened with bated breath. You see, how you define the question can often shape the answer. Here it was the same.
Justice, said Kissinger. Justice is needed for peace. I agree. Of course, I have a strong feeling that Kissinger’s sense of justice is different than mine. For example – what about justice for almost one million Israelis who have spent the last 30 hours or so avoiding more than 45 rockets fired at them? What about justice for the family of the Israeli Arab who was working on the Egyptian-Israel border when Gazan terrorists opened fire and kill him?
Justice must be given to both sides and yet, that seemed to be missing in Kissinger’s view of Israel’s path to peace.
The second requirement was equilibrium. By this, Kissinger means that so long as Israelis have more and Palestinians have less, there can be no peace. But why do they have less? They have received billions of Euros and even more in dollars – where has the money gone?
Years ago, I was visiting a community in Gaza. No, not an Arab one, a Jewish one. There was a beautiful zoo there. I was escorting a journalist who came to speak to Israelis. Her questions were, by and large, obnoxious and short-sighted. She didn’t ask the mother of two children hurt in a terrorist attack how she coped with months of treatment, of worry and concern. She didn’t ask how the children are doing now, if they still have nightmares. No, she asked the woman about where she had built her home.
Finally, we came to the zoo and as she took pictures, I walked and looked at the beauty that had been created and I finally lost it – what harm does this zoo do? I asked her. Why must you destroy this one? Why can’t the Arabs build their own zoo – or better, why can’t they make peace and visit this one?
Will destroying one nation’s work bring equilibrium to the Palestinians? Israel is a center of innovation and technology almost unparalleled in the world…how do you bring equilibrium between this type of a country and one that has focused on building rockets?
Justice and equilibrium – that’s what Henry Kissinger came to tell Israel was needed for peace. Somehow, if you tell this to the people of Shderot or Askhelon, I think they would think of something else. If you told this to the parents of Malki Roth or Koby Mandell or the parents of Udi and Ruti Fogel, I think they’d probably come up with something else entirely.