Peaceable Kingdom: A geopolitical solution
By Ray Sharp
November 19, 2002
The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.
Isaiah 2:1-5, King James Bible
I am not a religious man. Born a Jew, I do not believe in God. I am a lucky accident, an inexplicable joining of atoms in an ever-expanding universe blasted apart at the beginning of time and space. I rarely give pause for How? Why? For what purpose? To what end?
Religions, if they have any meaning for me, are systems of morality, rules for living. Yes, they give names and faces to the incomprehensible, but I have little interest for cosmology, even less for Eternity. The real intrigue, the persistent and intractable conundrum of human life, is how can we all get along.
Irony: Religions, moral codes that preach love and righteousness, are tearing the world asunder. The prophets said when End Times approach, the final battle will be waged in the Holy Land. As I said, I am not a
believer; however, the prophets are looking pretty smart about now.
Judaism, Christianity and Islam are three branches on the monotheistic tripartite vine of western religion rooted in the
Semitic soil of Hebron.
Hebron, where God revealed Himself to the patriarch Abraham and spared his son, Isaac, from the sacrificial blade. Where Abraham bought a cave for the burial of his wife, Sarah, now called the Tomb of the Patriarchs.
In 1929, Palestinians slaughtered 67 Jews in Hebron and forced the rest to flee to Jerusalem, snuffing out a Jewish presence in the city that dated to ancient times. The Jewish presence was restored only after Israel won control of Hebron in the Six Day War of
Thereafter, under Israeli occupation authorities, Jews and Muslims were both allowed free access to the tomb -- until 1994, when a Jewish gunman massacred 29 Muslim men and boys as they prayed. This led to partition of the building over the cave into a Jewish side and a Muslim side.
Hebron, where last week Jewish soldiers, celebrating the Sabbath by walking to the tomb to pray, were ambushed by Palestinians. Twelve dead, fifteen wounded.
Jews dead, Arabs dead, Christians dead, buses bombed, houses flattened by tanks, restaurants bombed, rock-throwing boys shot, hostages decapitated, babies caught in the crossfire, two years of Intifada, two silver jets streaking the blue September sky like archangels, 3,000 more dead. The cruel arithmetic of hatred.
Where will it all end? Whether by fire or by ice, in Jerusalem. The 1994 Oslo
Accords -- which were to have created a Palestinian state, secure borders for Israel and peace
everlasting -- were tragically and mortally flawed because they deferred until last the question of what to do about Jerusalem and the Occupied Territories, the so-called "final status issues," after all the easier points of commonality were achieved.
Why put off the central -- actually the only -- question worth asking, namely, "Who shall control the Holy Lands?" There are only two reasons not to ask such questions: because you can't find an answer, or because you are unwilling to accept any of the alternatives. Both reasons apply here. And sadly, without a clear path to Final Status, we are left with both sides escalating toward Final Solution.
Actually there is one peaceable solution. It is not an easy choice, but it is the only one that makes sense, the only one that the world can live with in the long run.
The killing has gone on far too long to stop on its own. It doesn't matter who was there first or who shot whom last. It simply has to stop. No one person or party in the Middle East has the power to make peace. Only a higher power can do that. The United Nations created this mess in
1948; and now, for the sake of the region and the whole world, all the nations on earth must move to extricate Israel and the Palestinians from their death spiral.
Jerusalem, Hebron, Bethlehem and all the other holy sites must not belong to anyone unless they belong to everyone. Any final status plan that designates ownership or control of any holy lands to a particular group of people to the exclusion of others is akin to deciding which part of Yosemite Valley will belong to Burger King and which part will belong to McDonalds, or which rim of the Grand Canyon is for Whites and which is for Blacks.
I propose that Israel and the Occupied Territories submit to complete control by a huge multi-national force. This force would proceed to de-militarize the area, removing every gun, missile, sling shot, tank, rocket launcher and H-bomb, and most importantly, protect every person, be he or she Muslim, Jew, Christian, Hindu,
Baha'i or atheist. A Greater
Israel -- with equal rights, protection, status and opportunity for all residents
-- is possible only when the question of control and domination by one side or the other is impossible.
Because Israel has established democratic institutions and infrastructure, the other factions of the region would assimilate to the existing Israeli system by default, with inclusion guaranteed by law and enforced by international peacekeepers. But Israel, the Jewish State, would cease to exist. The Greater Israel of the future must be a completely secular state that not only tolerates other religions, but also does not favor any particular group.
In effect, Israel gives up its army, the Palestinians turn in their weapons; and the country is defended in perpetuity by an international force, an occupying army if you will, because the current factions have had 53 years -- well, actually, 4,000 years -- to work things out and haven't made any headway. And for too
long they have been pulling the rest of the world into their little squabbles, to the point that it should now be clear to any level-headed realist (especially an atheist like me) that they -- Israelis and Palestinians -- have irrevocably forfeited their rights to statehood as we generally conceive of it. After all, when God promised these lands to the Children of Israel, certain conditions applied. Increasingly, the actions of the State of Israel have deviated from the principles of Judaism. From the brutal occupation of southern Lebanon in the 1980s, to the handling of the Intifada, to the far-right Likud government that is out of step with the majority of its citizens, the very real security threats faced by Israel have led it to break its covenant with God.
Just as Yellowstone National Park is too precious to be entrusted to Exxon, and so is protected by an occupying force of park rangers who preserve it for all Americans, so, too, must the Holy Land be saved by the righteous power of all nations working together for peace. Only then, as the prophet said, "nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
I leave you with the lyrics to a new song:
I woke up this mornin' and none of the news was good
And death machines were rumblin' 'cross the ground where Jesus stood
And the man on my TV told me that it had always been that way
And there was nothin' anyone could do or say
And I almost listened to him
Yeah, I almost lost my mind
Then I regained my senses again
And looked into my heart to find
That I believe that one fine day all the children of Abraham
Will lay down their swords forever in Jerusalem
Well maybe I'm only dreamin' and maybe I'm just a fool
But I don't remember learnin' how to hate in Sunday school
But somewhere along the way I strayed and I never looked back again
But I still find some comfort now and then
Then the storm comes rumblin' in
And I can't lay me down
And the drums are drummin' again
And I can't stand the sound
But I believe there'll come a day when the lion and the lamb
Will lie down in peace together in Jerusalem
And there'll be no barricades then
There'll be no wire or walls
And we can wash all this blood from our hands
And all this hatred from our souls
And I believe that on that day all the children of Abraham
Will lay down their swords forever in Jerusalem
Written by Steve Earle and published by Sarangel Music (ASCAP)
(Ray Sharp writes about politics from windy Liminga Rd. -- the left side of the road.)
Learn more about the author of this guest column, Ray
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|Note: Views expressed by our guest columnists are not necessarily the views of Keweenaw Now.
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