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Israel’s Only Path To Peace Must Begin With A Palestinian State

Op-Ed: As Palestinians arrive at the United Nations in search of recognition of their statehood, Israel’s isolation grows deeper. Israelis have justifiable existential fears, but must accept there is only one way to achieve lasting peace and security: a P

The Western Wall in Jerusalem (DavidSpinks)
The Western Wall in Jerusalem (DavidSpinks)
Arrigo Levi

And so, Benjamin Netanyahu's Israel, the one of Russian immigrants and ultra-orthodox Jews, is managing to isolate itself more deeply than it has in decades. This isolation comes in a region which, for reasons of history and memory, it inexorably belongs to, but where it is seen as the last residue of European colonization - an unacceptable witness to the historic decline of Arab civilization. This is why the third Jewish state in history still must face the question of its very survival.

However this hypothesis appears unrealistic when visiting the blossoming cities and countryside of the Jewish state. Prophets dreamt that the day would come where the road to peace would run from Egypt to Babylon, passing through Jerusalem: in this region, as in few others, history seems to repeat itself millennia later.

But, you could ask, is it with the Palestinians, and only the Palestinians, that Israel needs to make peace in order to be accepted by everyone? The answer is a little less sure than it seems.

We all breathed a sigh of relief when the large revolutionary movements in Tunisia and Egypt featured no slogans or cries aimed against Israel. The vicious assault of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo was a brutal wake-up call to these optimistic assurances. We need to face reality – the Jewish state, for prejudices old and new, is still viewed with hate by the Egyptian masses, and not just by them.

But we were assured the Egyptian military would absolutely not re-open the question of the peace treaty with Israel. Instead, in Cairo they're now saying there may be some possible changes. And meanwhile a large majority of the countries of the world are declaring their conviction that Palestinians have a right to their own state to be recognized at the UN; and Israel and America seem, until now, unable to grin and bear it. And then, no matter what happens at the General Assembly, people are expecting assaults at the Israeli border, with the risk of incidents capable of having repercussions for the Arab minority within the Jewish state.

The majority which governs the State of Israel today recognizes, in principle, that "a Palestinian state must be established," as Dan Meridor, Israel's Deputy Prime Minister, assured La Stampa's Jerusalem correspondent Francesca Paci. This is notable progress. But while waiting for the day for this to happen, Israel does not intend to end the expansion of the Jewish colonies, because it would be "unrealistic" to impede someone from "buying a house only because he's Jewish."

And yet Israel has left the Gaza Strip and repatriated the Israelis who were residing there with force. This didn't seem "unrealistic" in relation to greater interests of the State. But today Israel appears paralyzed by its fears, confronted with an "Arab revolution" in which it sees, and not without reason, only danger.

And so, the prospects of a new negotiation seem to vanish into an uncertain and far-off future. Let's admit it: Making peace with the Palestinians might not be enough to make peace with all Arabs. Several generations may need to pass before meeting this long-term objective. But Israel still needs to run the gauntlet of Palestine in order to make peace with everyone: and it is only on this front that Israeli diplomacy can act.

If not, Israel risks remaining so tremendously alone in a land which was irrevocably promised to the Jews, but which has been repeatedly denied to them. This is where the extraordinary spiritual force should be concentrated of a people who, after a millennial diaspora, has re-infused life to a Jewish state.

Read the original article in Italian

Photo - DavidSpinks

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A Refuge From China's Rat Race: The Young People Flocking To Buddhist Monasteries

Unemployment, stress in the workplace, economic difficulties: more and more young Chinese graduates are flocking to monasteries to find "another school of life."

Photograph of a girl praying at a temple during Chinese Lunar New Year. She is burning incense.

Feb 20, 2015 - Huaibei, China - Chinese worshippers pray at a temple during the Lunar New Yeat

Frédéric Schaeffer

JIAXING — It's already dawn at Xianghai Temple when Lin, 26, goes to the Hall of 10,000 Buddhas for the 5:30 a.m. prayer.

Still half-asleep, the young woman joins the monks in chanting mantras and reciting sacred texts for an hour. Kneeling, she bows three times to Vairocana, also known as the Great Sun Buddha, who dominates the 42-meter-high hall representing the cosmos.

Before grabbing a vegetarian breakfast in the adjacent refectory, monks and devotees chant around the hall to the sound of drums and gongs.

"I resigned last October from the e-commerce company where I had been working for the past two years in Nanjing, and joined the temple in January, where I am now a volunteer in residence," explains the young woman, soberly dressed in black pants and a cream linen jacket.

Located in the city of Jiaxing, over a hundred kilometers from Shanghai, in eastern China, the Xianghai temple is home to some 20 permanent volunteers.

Unlike Lin, most of them only stay for a couple days or a few weeks. But for Lin, who spends most of her free time studying Buddhist texts in the temple library, the change in her life has been radical. "I used to do the same job every day, sometimes until very late at night, writing all kinds of reports for my boss. I was exhausted physically and mentally. I felt my life had no meaning," she says.

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