fbpx
Friday, September 18, 2020

Grateful for a Ray of Light

https://jewishjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/jj_avatar.jpg
David Suissa
David Suissa is President of Tribe Media/Jewish Journal, where he has been writing a weekly column on the Jewish world since 2006. In 2015, he was awarded first prize for "Editorial Excellence" by the American Jewish Press Association. Prior to Tribe Media, David was founder and CEO of Suissa Miller Advertising, a marketing firm named “Agency of the Year” by USA Today. He sold his company in 2006 to devote himself full time to his first passion: Israel and the Jewish world. David was born in Casablanca, Morocco, grew up in Montreal, and now lives in Los Angeles with his five children.

“There’s a crack in everything,” Leonard Cohen famously wrote in one of his songs. “That’s how the light gets in.”

For the better part of a century, one issue in particular has stubbornly resisted that poetic prophecy — the issue of relations between Israel and Arab nations. On that front, what has fallen through the cracks are resentment, violence and darkness, not light.

Even the “successful” efforts, such as Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, have led to, at best, a “cold peace” of convenience. The much-ballyhooed Oslo Peace process of 1993, which was supposed to end the intractable conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, today feels like a bitter and distant memory that only made the conflict even more intractable.

Into this darkness enters a group of prominent Arabs who decided they’ve had enough. Enough with the animosity. Enough with the boycotts. Enough with failure.

On Nov. 19, this group entered a London hotel to begin rewriting history.

This was not one of those contrived photo ops between adversaries who pretend to smile for the benefit of powerful sponsors, usually the United States. Over the years, God knows we’ve seen hundreds of these faux peace meetings between Israelis and Palestinians — and what have they gotten us? Not just failure after failure, but cynicism and despair.

This London conference was different — it was not between Arabs and Jews but between Arabs and Arabs. It was not interfaith but innerfaith.

This London conference was different — it was not between Arabs and Jews but between Arabs and Arabs. It was innerfaith, not interfaith.

The attendees were not there to negotiate land and water rights; they were there to negotiate love, friendship and integration; to discuss how to repair relations with the Jewish state.

We were lucky enough to find an experienced freelance reporter in London, Jenni Frazer, who covered this historic conference for the Jewish Journal. This is how she begins her story:

“On a cold Tuesday morning, in a relatively anonymous west London hotel, a little bit of history was made.

“It’s not unusual to see veiled or head-scarved women in this area, or prosperous men gathering in the Millennium Gloucester hotel’s lobby, all obviously Middle Eastern in origin. But it is almost certainly the first time that the men and women from the Arab world, gathering in this hotel, had such striking things to say about their countries’ fractured relationships with Israel and Jews — not least condemning the boycott and boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement — and how to go about mending these broken bridges.

“Thirty people from all walks of civil society, from 15 Arab countries, took part in the creation of a new body, the Arab Council for Regional Integration. Their mission is one of ‘peace and love and friendship,’ whose aim is to repair relations with the Jewish state.”

I encourage you to read the entire story to see how the conference came about, what it accomplished in London, and what it hopes to accomplish in the future. If the miracle of peace ever comes about, history may look back on that cold Tuesday morning in London as the little moment of truth that started it all.

What I find especially poignant is that this ray of light is coming at a moment of growing darkness for world Jewry. In fact, the day after the conference, the Anti-Defamation League released its global survey showing that about 1 in 4 Europeans polled “harbor pernicious and pervasive attitudes toward Jews.”

If the miracle of peace ever comes about, history may look back on that cold Tuesday morning in London as the little moment of truth that started it all.

On the day that we were covering the London story, I was at a luncheon in Los Angeles for donors and activists fighting BDS. The last thing on everyone’s mind was that a ray of light may come from the “other side.” Unfortunately, especially in recent years and especially on college campuses, Jews have been conditioned by reality to see mostly anger and hatred coming from the other side.

The anti-Israel movement, in the U.S. and abroad, has mushroomed beyond all proportion. No failure of Israeli policies can justify the level of animosity and discrimination directed at the Jewish state from all sides of the ideological spectrum.

For decades now, the pro-Israel community has assumed that those best positioned to fight Jew-hatred and BDS were the Jews themselves. The London conference has shuffled the cards. “You’re not alone,” the founders of the new group seem to be telling us. “We may be on the other side, but we understand your side, too.”

It’s tempting to be cynical and say there’s no way 30 prominent Arab figures can move the boulder of a century-old conflict. That may be true, but it would be taking the road most traveled.

The Jewish way is to never give up on hope. Certainly not when that hope comes from an unlikely group of courageous people who found a little crack in the darkness — and showed us a ray of light.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Did you enjoy this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Enjoyed this article?

You'll love our roundtable.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Latest Articles

Three Generations, One Timeless Mission 

Refael writes about three generations of IDF soldiers from 1948 to 2018.

5781 is the Jewish Response to 2020

The Jews have learned through the millennia that to keep the flame of hope alive during dark times, resilience is not a choice but an imperative.

Fearing My Trauma Made Me a Fraud

I need help. Recently, while watching television with my 12-year-old son, Hillel, I gasped when one character slit another’s throat. My body seized in...

Obituaries: Sept. 18, 2020

Lilla Aftergood died Sept. 3 at 95. Survived by daughter Annette (Mel) Gottlieb; sons Steven (Kimberly), David (Sara); 12 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai Rachel Barzilai died...

2 U.S. Senators Warn Poland’s President on Anti-Semitism and Restitution

“We are alarmed by growing anti-Semitic discourse in Poland and scapegoating of the Jewish community."

The Bidens Tell Jewish Supporters the New Jewish Year Will Be Happier With Trump Out

“What kind of country do we wish to be? Both of our faiths, yours and mine, instruct us not to ignore what’s around us.”

The Ark — In Person

There is such joy in seeing a member of your community in person: having them articulate what has been painful and distressing about this era.

Five Nations in Talks to Normalize Ties With Israel Soon, PA Minister Says

He said the five countries were Comoros, Djibouti, Mauritania, Oman and Sudan.

I’m Jealous of the Abraham Accords

Is it normal to be jealous of the UAE? Yes, if you’re an Iranian Jew.

Novel’s Russian Jews Find Rough Going in Israel

The setting of “Jerusalem as a Second Language,” a new novel by Rochelle Distelheim (Aubade Publishing), harks back to a remarkable moment in history.

Culture

Novel’s Russian Jews Find Rough Going in Israel

The setting of “Jerusalem as a Second Language,” a new novel by Rochelle Distelheim (Aubade Publishing), harks back to a remarkable moment in history.

Personalizing Home Ritual With ‘HighHolidaysAtHome’

The team has developed guides and webinars. They're providing steps to invoke various aspects of the holidays as well as family memories. 

Apples of Hope for Rosh Hashanah

As a new year begins, we remember the hard times of recent months but also look forward to the future with a promise of new beginnings.

Mothers and Daughters, Honey and Joy

We hope you try it with the future cooks and bakers in your lives. And we wish you a new year as sweet as Honey Joys. 

Laugh Factory Holding Live Stream High Holy Days Services

For the past 36 years, The Laugh Factory comedy club in Hollywood has opened its doors for free Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services.

Latest Articles
Latest

Three Generations, One Timeless Mission 

Refael writes about three generations of IDF soldiers from 1948 to 2018.

5781 is the Jewish Response to 2020

The Jews have learned through the millennia that to keep the flame of hope alive during dark times, resilience is not a choice but an imperative.

Fearing My Trauma Made Me a Fraud

I need help. Recently, while watching television with my 12-year-old son, Hillel, I gasped when one character slit another’s throat. My body seized in...

Obituaries: Sept. 18, 2020

Lilla Aftergood died Sept. 3 at 95. Survived by daughter Annette (Mel) Gottlieb; sons Steven (Kimberly), David (Sara); 12 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren. Mount Sinai Rachel Barzilai died...

2 U.S. Senators Warn Poland’s President on Anti-Semitism and Restitution

“We are alarmed by growing anti-Semitic discourse in Poland and scapegoating of the Jewish community."

Hollywood

‘Dirty Dancing’ Sequel Starring Jennifer Grey Announced

It’s official: A “Dirty Dancing” sequel is coming, and it’s starring Jewish actress Jennifer Grey, who played Frances “Baby” Houseman in the 1987 original.

Roy Moore’s Lawsuit Against Sacha Baron Cohen Over Being Pranked Can Proceed, Judge Rules

By the time the episode aired, it was widely known that Cohen was punking public figures.

Podcasts

Rachel Azaria: A Guide to Social Change in Israel

Shmuel Rosner and Rachel Azaria discuss her latest book (out in Hebrew now), on creating a meaningful social change and the key to a...

Pandemic Times Episode 87: Shmuel Rosner on the Big Day at the White House

New David Suissa Podcast Every Monday and Friday. The implications of today's peace signings between Israel and two more Arab countries. How do we manage our...

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Jewish Journal, 3250 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90010, http://www.jewishjournal.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

x