2014, Designated Year for Middle East Peace: Part 1
It’s ironic that in a region known for millennia of feuding, ongoing wars and rumors thereof, standard greetings impart the message of peace, both in Hebrew (shalom, שָׁלוֹ) and Arabic (ʿalayhi as-salām, عليه السلام). Last November the Council of the Socialist International met with member parties from Israel and Palestine who, in concert, designated 2014 as the Year for Middle East Peace ostensibly to be achieved by a series of coordinated actions outlined in a Declaration on Peace in the Middle East.
By employing conflict resolution strategies to undermine targeted roadblocks – namely, politically incorrect attitudes, beliefs, and behavior dynamics – theirs is a seemingly noble, yet impracticable endeavor. The argument goes like this: To “respect the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people,” Israel’s alleged occupation must be ended. Global “peacebuilders” favor a two-state solution, but here’s the caveat: Not necessarily a viable space, but a particular space is demanded; but Israel stubbornly refuses to forfeit title.
Notice how no one talks about Jews forced out of Arab lands (Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Yemen) or that, with creation of the State of Israel, 870 thousand Arab Jew refugees (Mizrahi) fled to Israel. While more Arabs than Jews occupied the Jewish portion, Jews were legally barred from settling in the thirty-five thousand square miles of Palestinian Transjordan (eventually, Jordon); and present day Israel, including the West Bank and Gaza, comprises only twenty-two percent of Palestine.
Nor do “peacebuilders” entertain Bernice Sacks and Lewis Edward Lipkin’s alternate two-state solution: Twenty-two Arab League states, boasting 42% more land than the entire United States, could easily accommodate a new state without making so much as a dent in Arab land holdings. Palestina would afford a homeland ten times the size of Israel (representing less than 0.1% of Middle Eastern land) for Palestinian Arabs currently crammed into refugee camps and in the Territories. Throughout the transition, Palestina would receive EU, UNRWA and the U.S. funds presently earmarked for Arab refugees. Once joined by the large population of refugee Arabs with ideas of their own, Hamas, Fatah, and the Territory Arabs together could establish for themselves expanded opportunities and better living quarters safely distanced from the object of Iran’s nuclear threats. A win-win situation, no?
• Politics as Usual
From ancient times, through the dark ages, and thereon, anti-Jewish sentiment has given form to a sort of pseudo-history that blames Jews for virtually everything. Astoundingly, anti-Israeli activist-educator Knopf-Newman fingers anti-Semitism as a tool of censorship to suppress discussion of Palestine when, plainly, the root problem has less to do with “occupied” territories, and more to do with viral hatred of Jews.
Sadly, Abraham’s descendants through Ishmael characterize Israel as nakhba (meaning “the catastrophe”). For them, nothing less than Israel’s complete annihilation will do. The bony finger of blame squarely and persistently jabs at the Israeli government for maintaining sovereignty over its capital and control over its heartland in Judea and Samaria. The worse off Palestinians, the more pressure the world brings to bear on Israel when, arguably, Arab politics, not Jews, get in the way of making life easier for Palestinian refugees in Gaza.
Consider the so-called “Green Line” marking the boundary between Israel and its Arab neighbors. On a stake of mostly desert land (lacking oil), Jews created abundance (hence, the metaphorical “Green” Line). Arab counterparts were allotted nine times the acreage of Israelis, but chose instead to sit on its aridity and nurture resentments. Today, the Jabalia refugee camp remains as dismally poverty stricken as it was fifty years ago.
The Occupation Conundrum
Keep in mind that a state of Palestine never existed; Israel, on the other hand, became a nation some two thousand years before the rise of Islam (around 1450 B.C.). At the beginning of the twentieth century, Jews were recorded in nearly every town that today is considered “purely Arab”; and for a period of 1,637 years, Jews comprised its primary population. For three thousand years, dating back to Joshua, Jewish people have lived continuously in the land they occupy. After World War 1, the San Remo Peace Conference legally recognized a continuous chain of Jewish possession.
No matter. In lockstep with Socialist International and Europe, President Obama’s plan is to give Israel “the basic right to exist,” but without “permanent occupation” of their own titled land. Palestine, in his view, should be recognized as a viable, sovereign state that borders Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. With no alternative two-state scenario on the table, parties are expected to negotiate swaps that implement 1967 borderlines.
Chosen to Occupy
To Bible believers, “Occupied Palestine” is a misnomer in that God gave Abraham and his seed the whole land of Canaan as an everlasting possession (emphasis mine). In the presence of, and for the benefit of, Abraham and his progeny, God made a solemn, sacred blood covenant to uphold His word unconditionally. Whatever Abraham did, or failed to do, God swore to multiply Abraham’s seed as the stars of heaven and to grant the land (inclusive of today’s Israel) “from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates.”
Even at the point of his death, Abram firmly believed God would make good His promises. In like fashion, the statesman Daniel prophetically foresaw a complete history of Israel from his own time to that of the Messiah, and he accurately foretold Israel’s miraculous restoration as a nation. Accept it or not, biblically speaking, Israel was foreordained to “blossom as a rose” – to lend, not borrow; to reign, not be reigned over. She is further distinguished as “center of the Earth.
• Land of Promise or Occupied Palestine?
Long before Mohammed was born, Jews returned to rebuild their temple. In the 1800s Zionists settled in Palestine and, in 1897, the First Zionist Congress convened in Switzerland to discuss creation of a homeland for the diaspora in Palestine. Notably, Hebrew (not Arabic) became the state language.
The word aliyah (Hebrew for "ascent” or “pilgrimage”) conveys the religious significance of Jews returning to Israel. In contrast, many disgruntled Palestinian refugees have no keen interest in returning, but nonetheless claim entitlement to a land inhabited continuously by Jews since ancient times. Never having lived a day in territorial Israel, nor having been granted distinction as a “nation-state,” more than ninety percent of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza nonetheless claim a “right to return.” Demand for five million Palestinian refugees to return exceeds ten times the number who actually left the Jewish sliver of the British Mandate in 1948!
Chosen to Bless
Biblical Christians embrace Abraham as the father of all who believe – Jews first; then, Gentiles. Himself a Jew, the apostle Paul recognized Israel as seed of the Messiah and, therefore, privileged with special covenants, revelations, promises, and law. One need only consider the debt of gratitude Christian Gentiles owe the Jews, who pretty much had God to themselves thousands of years before Gentiles were grafted in. These owe their faith and very salvation to the Jewish lineage of Jesus Christ, a Torah-believing, feast-observing Jewish rabbi. Moreover, against all odds, and through brutal sufferings, Jews accurately recorded the Scriptures. Attested to by discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, they exceled as faithful custodians of the oracles of God.
• Why Israel?
The sovereign Creator of the universe exercised divine prerogative to choose “a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth."Scripture expressly states, "It pleased the Lord to bless Israel.” Truly, Israel is His “heritage.” Even so, God is not partial, nor is He a respecter of persons; but He is God, after all. As such, God made of Abraham a great nation through which all families worldwide would be blessed. Religionists and secularists alike benefit from the significant number of Jews whose extraordinary contributions to literature, economics, physics, and medicine have merited Nobel peace prizes. Remarkably, Israel today produces more conceptual products than any other country.
In the name of global peacemaking, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi) faces relentless pressure from UN powerbrokers, World Bank funders, and Washington’s pro-Palestinian lobby. Known for opposing land-for-peace deals, Netanyahu rightly reasons, “Peace can only be negotiated with partners committed to peace.” “If the Arabs put down their weapons today,” he postulates, “there would be no more violence.” “If the Jews put down their weapons today,” he adds, “there would be no more Israel.”
In short, the Council of the Socialist International best return to the drawing board.
More to follow in Part 2.