Jul 2007 Journal

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Letter from Israel; Peace at almost any price?

Peace with Syria? It has seemed like an unattainable dream for a very long
time.

The visit of an unofficial Syrian intermediary combined with repeated
declarations by Prime Minister Olmert that Israel has no intention of
attacking that country has prompted speculation in Israel that some kind of
agreement is in the pipeline.

No one disputes the fact that any agreement with Syria would involve
returning the Golan Heights, the strategic plateau that dominates Israel’s
fertile Jordan Valley, Lake Tiberias and many northern towns and
settlements.

In the Second Lebanon War last summer rockets were fired into Israel from
Lebanon, causing damage to Israeli life, limb and property - but not a single
shot was fired from Syria. Lebanon paid a heavy price for its failure to
restrain terrorists, while Syria did not suffer in any way.

The Golan Heights region is dear to the hearts of many Israelis, whether as
a buffer zone, an area of agricultural settlement whose rich archaeological
remains attest to ancient Jewish life, or an area for tourism. Under Israeli
hands the volcanic soil has yielded good harvests, and the terrain and
climate have been found to be ideal for viticulture. Today no connoisseur
can ignore the excellent Golan wines, some of which are considered to equal
those of France.

But if that is the price that has to be paid, the question arises whether
Israelis will be able to see beyond the immediate loss to the ultimate
benefit. The hardliners will doubtless oppose the idea with every fibre of
their being, but there also seems to be a growing groundswell of voices
advocating peace at almost any price.

If real peace can be guaranteed, then perhaps it is worth exchanging real
estate for the lives of our sons and grandsons. Perhaps we should consider
that each Remembrance Day, when we hear about yet another family devastated
by loss. 
 
Dorothea Shefer-Vanson

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