Category Archives: Palestine

“Solving” the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

At first glance, this title is both arrogant and unneeded. After all, haven’t there been multiple peace accords, from Camp David (1978) to Madrid (1991) to Oslo (1992) to Camp David (2000) again? Nobel Peace Prizes, smiles and handshakes and promises of “final negotiations” all win world approval…only to break down, with both sides blaming the other.

With the recent relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem (in accordance with U.S. legislation since the 1990s), all the tensions come to the surface again. Gaza rioting at the border wall, Syrian rockets, Iran and Turkey calling for the destruction of Israel – same song, new singers.

What can be done? The EU and many others keep calling for Israeli “restraint” as rockets from Gaza and the Golan rain on Israel and hundreds of terrorists attempt to infiltrate through tunnels. At the same time, Palestinian Authority leader Abbas continues to perpetrate the nastiest antisemitism, refusing to acknowledge 3000 years of Jewish history in the land, rejecting the truth of 6 million dead in the Holocaust and refusing to accept Israel as the national home of the Jewish people. Anti-Jewish sentiments continue to grow throughout the world.

What can be done?

There is a pathway forward. It is truly “the road less traveled” and will require heroism for success. If pursued, however, an era of genuine peace and prosperity is possible. Here are the necessary conditions for a “final” accord:

  • Israel’s existence as a sovereign nation with a right to peace and security is essential. Extermination chants of, “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free” will only continue the conflict. Until Palestinians and other Muslim leaders say yes to Israel as a nation, no peace is possible. Egypt, Jordan and others are reaping the benefits of not being at war.
  • Demanding the return of all descendants of people displaced in 1948 is a non-starter. Clear borders, generous aid and economic opportunity can help a new Palestinian State prosper…if they will end their perpetual war.
  • The Palestinian Authority, with help from others, must end ties to Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda and others that only want the elimination of Israel. The PA must renounce a tradition of Islamic deception (taqiyya) that allows for truces, but no true peace.
  • Israel will relocate many settlers once the new boundaries are established. It is unrealistic to expect pre-1967 boundaries, but the aforementioned accords open the door to two sustainable states.
  • Economic development and a potential free trade zone could transform a new Palestinian State from one of dependent refugee camps to a sustainable and flourishing participant in the local and global economy.

Underneath the details are the moral and spiritual evils associated with antisemitism and the delegitimizing of the Jewish people’s right to a secure home. All of the above points are only possible when Jews are seen as equal human beings and not dehumanized as dogs and pigs, bloodthirsty bankers and enemies of Islam. Israel leaders are not leading an “apartheid” state, they are not “Nazis” and the border wall has actually saved hundreds of lives. Israel is not perfect, but there is NO moral equivalence between the only democracy in the region and the hatred taught from birth in the territories surrounding Israel.

All forms of neo-Nazi thinking must be rejected. All Leftist canards about Israeli oppression need severe modification in light of empirical evidence.

Peace is possible, but the burden is 90%+ on Palestinian, Arab and world leaders to accept Israel as a gift of freedom, ingenuity and morality for the world.

Lights in the Darkness and Prospects for Peace: Special commentary on the Middle East: Part 2

Here are some thoughts connecting political, religious conviction and prospects for peace:

We must remember that our Christian faith arises from the Hebrew Scriptures and Jewish history. Underneath our beautiful Nativity are the trials and triumphs of Chanukah, that moment of Jewish liberation from pagan powers and consecration of the Temple in 164 B.C.

Just over 2500 years ago, a remnant of Judah rebuilt a modest Temple and here the Lord promises to send the Desire of Nations (Haggai). This moment in 516 fully ended the 70 years of exile for a people that had built Jerusalem as their capital in 1000 B.C.

In 1917, one century ago, the Balfour Declaration supported a Jewish homeland in their ancient geography…and in 2017, the USA declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Peace will only ultimately come when our Lord returns. But as peacemakers, we are called to welcome the future reign of God into the present. Here are the keys to Middle East stability:

  • If they want a sovereign state, Palestinian leaders must affirm Israel as the home of the Jewish people and recognize her national integrity within defensible borders. This will require courage and good personal security!
  • Israel must protect all religious rights and be open to an East Jerusalem capital of a new Palestinian state.
  • A new Palestine must renounce terror and agree to diplomatic and economic exchange.
  • A handful of Arab nations must agree that a secure Israel and a new Palestine at peace will help resist the hegemony of Iran and her terrorist agencies.
  • The best brokers of this are Christians from both the Middle East and the West.

The Bible enjoins us to pray for the shalom of Jerusalem. May our leaders find courage and wisdom and may we never give in to hatred.

Myths and Facts in the Middle East

The proto-state of Palestine, held together by a coalition that is ambiguous at best toward peace with their neighbor Israel, has made her bid for UN recognition. The process is a bit akin to Roman Catholic sainthood, except that the Vatican has a more objective process. The USA is obligated to veto such a move, even though President Obama has staked his world reputation and his Nobel Prize for hope on a resolution to current the impasse in the Middle East.

A cursory review of news outlets blames Israel’s refusal to halt new settlement construction for the breakdown in negotiations a year ago. While there is some merit in this, such a facile explanation betrays ignorance of the real issues underlying the current conflict. There is much myth masquerading as truth about The Arab-Israeli conflict. Sorting fact from legend – even for historical events less than a century old – requires intellectual integrity and patience, two virtues lacking in our instant-information-and-analysis Internet Age.

Myth: Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians is the reason for the “cycle of violence.”
Fact: Israel is not blameless in this conflict; however, she has come to the table again and again, signed peace accords (Campd David, 1978; Oslo, 1993; others in 2000) and watched jihadist radicals subvert the process.

Myth: Palestinian national identity and historic claims to the land are equal to Jewish aspirations.
Fact: Palestinian “national identity” is a recent construct, though many families and villages have deep roots in the land. Jewish connections are unbroken for nearly 3000 years.
Special fact: the tragedies of war in 1948 created a refugee disaster still festering, with the descendants of 400,000+ Arab refugees living in squalor and exile.

Myth: The 1947 UN Resolution establishing a Jewish State place forced the displacement of over 700,000 Palestinians and gave control of a large piece of territory to a minority group.
Fact: The UN Partition Plan gave the Jewish population of Palestine a small portion of land in which the Jews were a majority. The plan also called for both Transjordan (the first Palestinian state)and Israel to respect minority civil, property and religious rights.

Myth: Jewish terrorism was equal to Arab terrorism and the Jews massacred civilians and destroyed Arab villages on a large scale in 1948 and 1967. “Remember Deir Yassin” became an Arab war-cry.
Fact: The unauthorized work of the Irgun did result in scores of Arab and British casualties. The legitimate Israeli authorities punished such acts when possible. The exigencies of war did cause up to 400,000 Arabs to leave their homes; however, nearly 200,000 remained and many of them and their descendants have become Israeli citizens. The Mufti of Jerusalem went well-beyond any Zionist rhetoric when he stated unilaterally, “Kill all the Jews!” Egypt’s ruler in the 1967 conflict, General Nasser, made it clear that his goal was the destruction of Israel. By the way, more than 600,000 Jews were forced to leave Arab homelands as a result of the 1948 conflict.

Myth: Israel started the conflicts in 1948 and 1967.
Fact: There was low-level fighting in 1947-1948 as both sides positioned themselves before the departure of the British military. The British equipped the Arabs, gave no help to the new State of Israel and washed their hands of any responsibility. The 1967 war was preceded by scores of Arab missile and guerrilla attacks, the closing of borders and waterways and the movement of Arab armies on all sides of Israel. The Israeli “pre-emptive strike” was a brilliant response to the violence and brought a rapid victory. It also cemented Israel’s nationhood and wounded the pride of the nations around Israel.

Myth: Israel is a Western imposition arising our of Holocaust guilt.
Fact: The Holocaust DID accelerate world sympathy and UN action toward the new state. The problem with this line of reasoning is that many of its adherents are either Holocaust deniers or exaggerators of Israel’s “apartheid” policies.
Special fact: Current PA leader Abbas remains a Holocaust denier and refuses to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist in peace next to a new (and second) Palestinian state.

Myth: Israel does not want an independent Palestine as a neighbor.
Fact: Israel has repeatedly negotiated toward a “two-state” solution – Camp David and Oslo both point the way. She has given up much land for peace and will even negotiate settlements in the West Bank – IF her neighbors will fully recognize her legitimacy, renounce terrorism and produce maps for their schools that include her name! Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated this time and again recently and even suggested another settlement freeze in exchange for direct, good-faith negotiations.

Israel is not perfect. She has
* Caused the displacement of many Arabs
* Invaded Lebanon and allowed her “allies” to wreak havoc among refugee camps.
* Erected a border fence that will make peaceful travel between two states difficult.
* Refused to look at creative solutions for Jerusalem – perhaps a shared capital of both nations?

But current Palestinian leaders have not
* Renounced terrorism – especially the killing of innocents.
* Recognized Israel’s right to exist peacefully and in perpetuity.
* Demonstrated any ability to treat minority populations with equity.
* Realized that their (exaggerated number of) descendants of the 1948 refugees cannot be allowed to settle within the political boundaries of Israel. Many could, however, help a new Palestine flourish.

Israel remains the only pluralistic democracy in a region of extremism and intolerance. If the USA was not so dependent of Arab oil, we would have helped popular secular movements topple several regimes long ago. Even this year’s “Arab Spring” is shrouded in mythology as the Islamicist Muslim Brotherhood takes control in multiple locales. The vandalizing of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo is a sign of what awaits these “revolutions” that are the darlings of the anti-Israeli Left in Europe and the USA. It is an insult to all decency to allow the Iranian leader on US soil. The greater tragedy is that thousands of unthinking students and chattering class members parrot his calls to destroy Israel. Ignored in all of this are the arrests of dissidents in Egypt, the “ethnic cleansing” of Blacks in Libya and the non-existence of anything resembling pluralism in the nations surrounding Israel.

The Palestinians deserve better leaders who want to live in peace and create a thriving region in partnership with Israel. When Israel left Gaza to the PA, the result was destruction and more violence. Hundreds of intact businesses were destroyed for no reason. Infrastructure was sabotaged. All this in the name of jihad.

Peace is possible, with direct negotiations and honest US leadership. But first we must know the facts and reject the myths.