There is an element of self-delusion in the very act of composing an opinion piece on a "controversial" issue. Think back to the last time you read an editorial or op-ed article on say, abortion, or gay "marriage," or the war in Iraq. Was the article brilliant, honest, even-handed, open-minded, and so convincing that only an idiot could fail to be persuaded by its arguments? —then obviously it was an article that expressed your views on the issue. Was the writing weak, the arguments flawed, the perspective biased and did the writer conveniently fail to address the most important aspect of the issue? Interestingly, it was also expressing a view opposed to your own....

The more I think about it, the more I realize that only on very rare occasions do we read something that changes our opinion on a given issue. And on those rare occasions on which we are swayed by an "opinion piece," more often than not it's not by the arguments made, but by who is making them.

The arguments themselves—we've heard them all. We can recite them in our sleep—the argument for "our" side of the issue, and the arguments for the "other" side (along with the refutations of course). But the name behind the opinion—especially if it's a name we didn't expect to see there—that sometimes gives us pause. Now, if he feels this way, if she's putting forth this view—maybe there's something I'm missing?

If it's a person whose opinion we respect, a person whose world-view and approach to life resonate in our minds and hearts—that will usually cause us to give new credence to what he or she is saying, even if it differs from our initial opinion on the matter.

By now, I doubt there's a Jew on the face of the earth—and a good portion of the earth's face's non-Jews as well—who hasn't read and heard all that can be written and said on how to achieve peace in the Middle East.
On the rare occasions when we are swayed by an "opinion piece," more often than not it's not by the arguments made, but by who is making them...
We've heard the "Land for Peace" thesis and its recent incarnation as the "Disengagement from the Palestinians" policy. We've heard bible and history evoked by the settlers and leftist dogma recited by the "Peace Now" camp. We've heard the "you can't negotiate with terrorists" argument and the "you can never defeat an insurgency" argument. We've heard the "We are tired of war" plaint and the "it's us or them" reality check. We've seen the demographic statistics, the maps showing the population and land-mass ratios and the missile ranges, and the graphs depicting the correlation between territorial concessions and terror attacks. We've heard how the only way to achieve peace is through "painful compromise" and how the only way to achieve peace is through faith, perseverance, and the guts to fight for what you believe in. We've heard that "peace is made with enemies" and that "you can't make peace with someone who doesn't accept your right to exist."

As one who has lived in Israel for ten years, I can argue either side, convincingly, to others (I think) and to myself (I know). I see the logic in both approaches. I fully relate to the axioms which underlie them both. But I am convinced that the "land for peace" approach is a grave error and that uprooting Jewish settlements will bring only further strife and bloodshed, G‑d forbid, not peace. I am convinced of this because this is the view that was voiced, consistently and persistently, by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

The Rebbe's opinion carries that kind of weight with me because I knew him as a man of peace and a man of compassion. For more than forty-two years, the Rebbe spoke at public addresses and farbrengens (chassidic gatherings), many hours each week.
I knew that his is not an opinion arising out of bigotry, insularity or "nationalism"
Thousands of hours of audio and video recordings and tens of thousands of pages of transcripts of his talks are on public record. Never, not once, did we hear the Rebbe speak disparagingly or condescendingly of another human being, Jew or non-Jew, Israeli or Arab. Never did we hear a murmur of hatred or scorn pass his lips. On the rare occasions on which he expressed criticism or outrage, it was directed against the opinion or the action, never against the person.

I have also been privileged to witness first hand the Rebbe's actions, and the actions of the thousands of young men and women he dispatched to do his work in every corner of the globe, all undertaken with a single goal in mind: to bring peace, happiness and fulfillment to every last member of the human race. The Rebbe sent us to places and people deemed "beyond the pale" by many — to tiny, isolated communities, to hospitals and old age homes, to war zones and to prisons. To me, the Rebbe's actions, even more than his words, attest to the degree of his care and concern for every human being on the face of the earth.

So when I heard the Rebbe speak about what will bring closer the goal of peace in the Middle East and what will only distance it, I knew that his is not an opinion arising out of bigotry, insularity or "nationalism." I knew that his was an apolitical opinion in every sense of the word — an opinion motivated by nothing other than concern for the true well-being and benefit of all parties involved.

The Rebbe's opinion carries that kind of weight with me because I know his track record: his assurance of the miraculous victory in the Six Day War in 1967, when virtually everyone else feared for Israel's very survival; his forewarnings against the debacle of Israel's unpreparedness for the Yom Kippur War in 1973; his understanding of the long-term results of Israel agreeing to return the Sinai to Egypt in 1979; his advice to Israel in first days of the Lebanon War in 1982; and his repeated warnings that territorial concessions, and even talk of territorial concessions, will weaken Israel and only serve as a spur to more terror attacks, and more casualties on both sides — warnings which have most unfortunately materialized far more horrendously than anyone could possibly had imagined fifteen, twenty and thirty years ago.

And finally, the Rebbe's opinion carries that kind of weight with me because he told us and explained to us where he got it from: from the Torah, the divine wisdom that has kept us alive as a people, against overwhelming, impossible odds, for thirty-three centuries, and which is the only plan for world peace authored by the One who made the world we're trying to bring peace to.

How can peace be achieved between Israel and her neighbors, and between Israel and the Arabs living within its borders? I don't know. But I know someone who does.

For a free and unedited summation of the Rebbe's views on the "land for peace" issue and his Torah sources for the same see the book Eyes Upon the Land, which is included in its entirety on this website. The Rebbe's position is also discussed in some of these articles.