A young eastern European girl survives the Holocaust, but she has lost all. First, perhaps, like so many countless others, her father is shot in the street before her eyes among scores of men rounded up in the ghetto in which her family has been living in starvation and rising terror; next, possibly, her mother dies of dysentery in the train to Auschwitz; later, maybe, when they arrive at the camp she is separated from her two brothers and they are never seen again. How does she survive and make it to Palestine? Somehow. She doesn't speak of it, and it does not in any case seem to be the question that plagues her. In time, she marries, creates a new family, watches as her refuge becomes the State of Israel. The question that does interest her, and which she continues to ask herself, over and over again, and with which she haunts everyone among the living around her, is why she alone of all her family survived. Her son grows up; the question permeates his life. It enters the army with him, accompanies him as he rises through the ranks to become a major general. On the day on which he is named to one of the highest posts in the Israeli military, she, his mother, sits through the ceremony, then comes to him and tells him: "Now I know. Now I know why I survived."
My sister, who has lived here for three decades and has just sent her third and fourth children to the army, called information a while ago to get the number of a Jerusalem restaurant. "What?" demanded the operator. "Why are you going to that restaurant? It's terrible!" It's better in Hebrew. But still.
"The fate of Jerusalem will be determined only by confrontation and not by the negotiating tables," says a survivor of a different stripe, Hamas "leader" Khaled Meshaal, from his hidey hole in Damascus, as a day of rioting by Palestinian Arabs on the Temple Mount ends. "Jerusalem is all of Jerusalem . . . . The Arabs and Muslims are [the city's] residents, and the Zionists have no claim over it." How much of this is due to the Obama Middle East policy? An un-keepable promise is made to the Palestinians that a negotiation in their favor will take place in exchange for little beyond words from their mouths (their word is their bond). Their response to the slow dawning upon them that this is a chimera is rage. A bunch of "Muslim youths" occupy the al Aqsa Mosque-one of their holiest sites-and from the windows of that sacred precinct stone and firebomb Israeli police. "I call for angry protests in Palestine and in the Arab world," says Meshaal. "We must send a message to the world: In light of the settlements and actions in Jerusalem, there are no negotiations and we must rethink our steps."
Israelis are more and more openly expressing their disgust with the latest and most dangerous incarnation of the so-called peace process. They worry, with growing intensity with every escalation of violent Arab rhetoric and rage, that in the end the process will have wrought not peace but the Third Intifada. And who can argue with that? I can't help wondering, though, as I listen to the muezzin's call to morning prayers, just what question it is the Arabs are answering when they raise their children to fight for a state this way