Rosh Hashanah begins on Wednesday, September 28th, and Israelis who observe this holiday wonder what the Jewish New Year will bring during this time of political turmoil. Palestinians are currently seeking recognition of an independent state at the United Nations. What will the holy holiday mean for Israel this year? Will it bring peace between the divided nations or will it only temporarily halt negotiations?
Rosh Hashanah marks ten days of repentance–the ‘High Holy Days’– and leads up to the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur. The holiday is a time for deep reflection and prayer, and many hope that the ‘New Year’ would bring peace to Jerusalem. However, in the face of so much political uncertainty, most Israelis are skeptical that this will actually happen. One man said: “I don’t expect a great deal of progress in the peace process. I don’t actually expect that there will be a Palestinian state.” Another woman said that “you can give many concessions to the Palestinians, [but they will always] want more.”
On Tuesday, Israel announced that it will build over a thousand new housing units in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want to claim for a future state. Palestinians see this as a direct affront to peace talks and refuse to negotiate until Israel stops talking about settlement expansion, and both the U.S. and the European Union agree. One cannot blame them for being angry; Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that this symbolizes “1,100 no’s” to peace.
President Barack Obama remains neutral and does not offer much insight, saying: “While we cannot know all that the New Year will bring, we do know this: The United States will continue to stand with Israel because the bond between our two nations is unshakeable.” 88 percent of Israelis actually say that they are in good spirits for Rosh Hashanah, in spite of the unrest. Do you think that Rosh Hashanah could be a peace-maker, or is it naÃ¯ve to think that the holiday itself will be enough to bring peace?