The Spiritual Precondition of Peace in Israel-Palestine


The Spiritual Precondition of Peace in Israel-Palestine

PALESTINE / ISRAEL, 13 April 2015

by Zeki Ergas – TRANSCEND Media Service

The latest developments that have a bearing on the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum are ominous for, now, in addition to the extremely bad personal relationship between the American President Barack Obama and the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and the incredible arrogance of the latter who dared to insult the former by concocting an invitation by the Republicans to speak in the U.S. Congress, and using that opportunity to torpedo the efforts of the Obama administration to work out a solution to keep the Iranians from ‘building the bomb'; in addition to all that, we have, the declaration, whether an electoral ploy, or not, that Israel will never accept the creation of a Palestinian state. That declaration may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back (so to speak), that is, bringing about a situation that is not acceptable for the United States, the European Community, and a large part of the international community. And, so, it seems to me, the time has come (if I am allowed to use that shopworn metaphor) for Alexander the Great to cut, or sever, the Gordian knot of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which has gone on for more than a hundred years, and generated a great deal of hatred and violence, and thousands of civilian and military casualties.

I believe that the conditio sine qua non of a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is taking the higher spiritual road. The Israelis, and their Jewish and other supporters around the world, must, once and for all accept the reality that the dream of the creation of a Greater Israel has become unachievable, and that, as a result, they must withdraw from most of the occupied Palestinian land, and make peace with the Palestinians, even if that means sharing Jerusalem as the capital, and a reasonable solution of the refugee problem. The claim that the Palestinians cannot be trusted, and that a future Palestinian state will be used as a launching pad for the destruction for the State of Israel, is not a truthful characterisation of the reality. Israel is a nuclear power and has perhaps the fourth or fifth strongest army in the world. No possible constellation of Arab states can realistically defeat Israel militarily, and that includes Iran, even if becomes a nuclear power, although that is not a realistic possibility. So, Israel must give up the dream of Greater Israel. It is hard, but it must be done. The alternative is endless conflict, and a future as a pariah apartheid state, which in the long run is not sustainable, as the South African case has shown.

I will even go further and argue that there may be a Biblical justification for Israelis making peace with Palestinians. Everybody knows the story of Cain murdering his brother Abel, and God asking Cain: Where is Abel thy brother? And Cain answering: I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? That question, I believe, has great relevance to the Israelis and Palestinians. Because, Biblically speaking, they can be seen as brothers (or half-brothers). Abraham, the first patriarch, having fathered Isaac and Ishmael; he fathered Isaac with Sarah, his legitimate wife, and Ishmael with Hagar, his slave. Isaac, the ancestor of the Jews, and Ishmael, the ancestor of the Arabs, are thus half-brothers, and the genitors, or originators, of the semitic Hebrew and Arab tribes. Thousands of years passed before Jesus, the founder of Christianity, and Mohammed, the founder of Islam, arrived on the scene.

Whether that Biblical story is true, or not, does not really matter in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What matters is that it can be assumed, for the sake of peace and harmony between these two peoples, that it is true, and that Israelis and Palestinians are related. Moreover, it is certainly a good assumption from a philosophical point of view because it is, Socratically speaking, a virtuous assumption. One that is conducive to peaceful co-existence between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples living side by side. That is, of course, the two-state solution, the only realistic solution, and Israel, being the richer and the more developed state, will have the moral obligation to help the new Palestinian state to develop. And the two half-brother peoples could thus be a great example for other peoples in the world suffering from conflicts, in the Middle East and elsewhere, to admire and emulate.

The author, a political economist, novelist, essayist and teacher can be reached

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 13 April 2015.