Political Impotence and International Arousal: Get Up!

On Thursday, October 8, 2015, the entire world woke up to some distressing news. An intrusion took place far away from US soil, targeting North American interests, in breach of protocol and acceptable code of conduct, which caused quite the stir in this pot world of ours. Social media outlets engaged hundreds of thousands of people on the issue, expressing their differing views on this vital topic, while leading radio shows and talk show hosts provided commentaries and recommendations on the proper response to the incident. Indeed, quite the whirlwind.

What was it all about, you ask? Well, I imagine by now you must have guessed it. It was all about Canadian pop star, Justin Bieber's genitals and the intrusion unto his privacy while on vacation. Please don't get me wrong: I feel the discussion about privacy, pop stars and paparazzi is as important as always, and Bieber is more than entitled to enjoying some personal down time, in spite of being an international celebrity, just like each and every one of us. No doubt at all.

The media, general public and social media were all obsessed with this "indecent exposure" incident, while so much more is happening all around us. Israel, for instance, experienced on this same Thursday one of its most difficult days in coping with Palestinian terror, as knife-wielding fanatics were running amok in the cities of Hebron, Afula, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem stabbing innocent passers-by while others were hurling rocks at Israeli cars and people in different areas, with the same nefarious intentions. In Syria, which has become the playground of the new "Cold War" between Russia and the West, the humanitarian crisis is worsening by the day, with huge tidal waves of immigrants fleeing the combat zones in search of refuge. In Iraq, as Isis continuously abuses Yazidi women, it was revealed that hundreds of them committed suicide while in captivity as a result of their torment.

I could go on and on, but the message is clear. When it comes to international crises, one should not rely on the "world" to come to their rescue. The "world" is busy. It is up to the parties themselves and those directly affected by the situation to take the lead and find a solution to the problems at hand, no matter how many speeches mentioned an issue at the UN General Assembly or how many press releases were written on the topic. This mostly meaningless lip service is meant to quiet the conscience of the on-lookers. No more and no less.

But not all is bad news here. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Lets look at Israel for example: Prime Minister Netanyahu, when speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem, mentioned his desire to work with Palestinian leader Abbas to restore the peace and quiet to the region, while Abbas himself chose to sing a different tune than the one he sang only a week ago at the UN, and sent similar reassuring messages to the leadership in Jerusalem. Remarkably, after so many months of Israeli outreach to the Palestinians to come back to the negotiating table, there is a positive sign in the air. Both leaders have identified the potential danger in this wave of terror, which may turn a wind into a hurricane, one that poses a direct threat to them and their rule. Only about a year ago, Israel uncovered a ploy by Hamas' operatives in the West Bank, to create enough unrest, which will allow them to depose Abbas and take the West Bank by force, similar to what they did in Gaza only a few years ago. Abbas knows it all too well and neither him nor Israel (or most Palestinians really) is interested in seeing the West Bank turn into another Gaza.

The Palestinians must realize once and for all the political truth in the old Jewish saying: "If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?" Only the parties themselves are able to change course and make life better for their peoples. The path only goes through Jerusalem and Ramallah, with all due respect to Washington DC, New York, Geneva or Paris.

What's next? As it happens in this part of the world, none could really predict the future with any degree of certainty (but rather predict its unpredictability with a 100% certainty). However, Israel is eager to embrace negotiations again and the Palestinians are fully aware (even if they don't say it out loud) of the futility of acts of violence and terror to advance them anywhere (hard lessons of the Second Intifada of a decade ago).

As Israel's late Prime Minister and leader, Golda Meir, famously said once in relation to Israel's success in the battlefield: "Our secret weapon is that we simply have no other alternative".

And the truth is, neither do the Palestinians. Only through negotiations in good faith and education for peace will their lives change for the better. And ours.