Blumenthal: An immersion in world, local politics

Mel Blumenthal
Second View
Mel Blumenthal

During the past two weeks, 19 members of our family and extended family have been in Israel, with extended stays in Jerusalem, the Galilee and Tel Aviv to celebrate the bar mitzvahs of my three oldest grandsons at the Southern Wall/Robinson’s Arch, adjacent to the Western Wall of the Old City.

Highlights of the trip included the Old City, which was the site of biblical Jerusalem and the capitol of King David; Yad Vashem, the central memorial and museum dedicated to the Holocaust; the Shrine of the Book that houses the Dead Sea Scrolls; the mountaintop fortress of Masada; floating in the Dead Sea; two nights at a Kibbutz in the Galilee; Jaffa, an important ancient seaport and one of the oldest biblical cities in the world; and a trip to the south of Israel and a tour and visit with the former commanding general of one of the key air force bases currently charged with protecting and defending modern-day Israel.

All but two of us had never been to this part of the world before, and the knowledge and memories we’ve come back with will be with us for the rest of our lives. Having been able to take this journey back in time with three generations of our family is an experience to be cherished and one that leaves us all with a greater understanding and appreciation of the struggles our ancestors faced to create a homeland for our people.

Those struggles are still ongoing and not likely to be resolved anytime soon in spite of the fact that many well-meaning people inside and outside the country are struggling to find a peaceful resolution to all the conflict that impacts the daily existence of everyone in this part of the world.

Notwithstanding all the safety concerns and anxiety that exist on a daily basis, the citizens and visitors alike don’t allow their spirits to be dampened or their hope for eventual peace to be shaken.

As they say, it’s complicated in the Middle East — there are no easy answers to resolving a thousand years of conflict.

The current debate centers on whether a two-state solution is the correct answer. The Israeli Jews we came in contact with appear equally divided on this proposed solution.

All the Israeli Jews we spoke with want peace in this land. They said the Israeli Arabs do, too, but both sides are divided on how to achieve it. The Israeli Jews on the conservative end of the spectrum feel their past compromises have been met only with further conflict and threats to their safety and continued survival in their homeland. Many feel that further compromise will put them in even greater jeopardy.

Those of a more liberal bent are willing to try a two-state solution, although they don’t appear to have a strong belief it will bring the peace they all desire. They are willing to give it a chance but feel it’s necessary to have a strong viable backup plan in case it doesn’t work.

These conservative and liberal positions are now about equally divided, and thus it’s not likely there will be a near-term change in policy and direction. Having said that, the conflicts have been going on over a thousand years, and the people on both sides have a strong desire to live in peace. Hopefully their political leaders will find a way to make that happen sooner rather than later.

Much of the outside world appears to be taking an active role in trying to influence the future destiny of this land based on their own self-interests, which also are often in conflict with each other and evolving over time.

As I said at the outset, it’s complicated, and clearly a peaceful solution, if one exists, is not yet apparent to those on both sides charged with providing a safe and peaceful home for their respective people.

Notwithstanding all the politics, maneuvering and logistics in dealing with these very heady issues, travel to this land and immersion in its history are things we will always cherish and never forget.

Now that I’m back home and beginning to catch up on all that’s been going on in my absence, I’ve noticed that the new regime guiding Related has come up with another proposed plan for Base Village. At first blush, much of it makes good sense, such as separating out, but concurrently reviewing, the various traffic-mitigation issues; offering to create and finance a new resort activity plaza area adjacent to the proposed Limelight hotel containing an ice rink and water feature such as the one that exists in the heart of Aspen in order to create a more vibrant and family-friendly Base Village; and offering the town substantial economic resources to determine the destiny of its community-purpose objectives such as a new Snowmass Discovery Center/performing-arts facility. Related’s new proposal still requires further refinement and negotiation, but all in all it’s a big step forward.

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