FEASIBILITY OF PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
COMMENTARY ARCHIVES, 9 Jun 2009
Over the past few decades, the Middle East has increasingly emerged to become a malignant tumor of our earthly community. Like any other disease, this fatal malady can still be cured in one way or another, even through an unexpected miracle. During the past centuries, quite a few books were written on the nature of miracles that even skeptics, who had serious doubts, after giving a second thought, began to believe in such mysterious phenomena.
Getting to the Source of the Problem
Going back to Aristotle some 2,500 years ago, the concept of the Causa Prima – the First Cause was attributed to that source without which nothing could possibly have existed. As time rolled on, this Causa Prima was referred to by various other names, such as Yahweh in Judaism, God in Christianity and Allah in Islam. When people are taken to hospital for an unspecified illness, the first thing doctors do is to analyze the symptoms in an effort to get to the source of the involved problem.
This way they could provide remedies that would lead to the cure of an illness under consideration. Our ability to get successfully to the source of any problem we encounter is the first gigantic step toward the eventual elimination of such a problem, be it physical, social, or psychological. The reason why the Middle East turmoil has been going on for decades may be due to the fact that the real source of the problem might not have been discovered. It may also be due to the fact that wrong methods were used to end this long tragic conflict.
To comprehend well the feasibility of peace in the Middle East, we need in the first place to realize and understand the philosophy that all involved parties have been using to get what they want. Unfortunately, it has been based on a system of fear, stubbornness, and blindness in having the parties involved trying to get what they want without regarding the feelings and rights of others. Hence, the entire region developed into an atmosphere of terror where everyone has been a loser and no one a winner. We must keep in mind that good intentions are not enough since, as they say, “The way to hell is paved with good intentions.”
Discussing the Middle East is not an easy job because it seems to be too much complicated. However, this should not render us incapable of tackling this serious problem. As long as we keep in mind the universal welfare of all people involved in this tragic conflict without exception, we should have no problem to come to a positive and constructive solution that would make everyone feel happy and safe. To this end, several steps need to be taken fast and smooth if possible. In this process we need to have our eyes wide-opened after we try to dehypnotize ourselves from false beliefs we might have been fed in life.
Military Trained to Wage Wars
There is one thing for sure that all parties involved in the Middle East quagmire must keep in mind. Throughout history the military was always used to wage wars and not to bring about peace. From a careful study of history of the last several centuries we learn that the military hardly ever used dialogues and diplomacy to solve human conflicts. They used struggles and wars that destroyed the infrastructure of cities where they left tens of thousands of people homeless ending up deprived from their crucial necessities of life. Besides, tens of thousands of others were killed or maimed badly.
Whereas through healthy dialogues and strong diplomacy everything is discussed on mutually beneficial bases, through the military tens of thousands, amounting at times to millions, are silenced through the extermination of their lives. And we know the rest of the story. When people are massacred and buried in individual or mass graves, they become silenced forever. In fact, at the entrance of every cemetery where we find people buried as a result of struggles and wars we could write in big letters: Military Peace at Work!
In view of this, one of our big lessons we should learn toward the feasibility of peace in the Middle East is to find ways to replace fear with trust, weapons with the vital necessities of life, and the military with humanitarian agencies. Those that think they can control people through weapons and a strong military have proved to be deadly wrong because such elements do not have the ability to conquer the “will” of the people, as General Westmoreland, commander of the US military forces in Vietnam said in his commencement address at the University of Kansas in 1966.
Among other things, this US General said: “We have certainly the most sophisticated weapons and the best well trained military, but we cannot conquer these people who come to confront us with rifles that in the USA we use to shoot pigeons. It is not the job of the military to solve such conflicts. We need to have a group of well trained diplomats to do this job successfully.”
Within the context of his speech given in an educational institution, General Westmoreland showed clearly that the best way to deal with the human mind was through a good education. He even added that weapons and wars harden the human mind to the point of making it defiant and fearless by all means. Coming to the disastrous region of the Middle East, it would make no sense at all for us to take sides and to start blaming each other in an effort to justify our brutal acts.
Creation of Sound Criteria
The best way to solve the Middle East conflict is to establish criteria that are based not on what the Israelis or the Palestinians accept as being right or wrong, but that are based on the dictates of both the Divine Positive Law and the Natural Law. These two sets of laws are God-made laws that are higher than both the ecclesiastical law and the civic law. The Divine Positive Law is referred to in the Bible as the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses, one of which says: You should not kill. This means that each time the Israelis kill Palestinians and vice versa, they are defying this God-made law.
On the other hand, anything that is linked with the necessities of life is viewed as the Natural Law, which God put in the order of nature from the very first day of creation. The Natural Law is also referred to as human rights. All people have a right to live in peace and security, to have adequate residential facilities, needed medical equipment, and full freedom of movement along with having schools and places of worship. This means that each time the Israelis destroy the residential facilities of the Palestinians and vice versa, they are defying the Natural Law. In essence, they are ultimately rebelling against God.
In the sphere of our global community we often hear many talking of the importance to have experience of something that is about to be done. This assumes that, once you have the experience of an involved activity, everything should be performed well to the satisfaction of everyone involved. Well, from the last history of 1900 years, the Jewish people have been banished from their homeland by the Romans toward the latter half the first century A.D. In 1948, the United Nations divided Palestine to give a substantial portion to the Jews.
This portion of Jewish land was then referred to as Israel. Since then, instead of having the Israelis and the Palestinians living together hand in hand in peace and harmony, they both took God’s laws in their hands and began to fight each other that resulted in the killing and maiming of thousands of innocent people, who are all God’s most dear and beloved children, in addition to having their residential areas destroyed senselessly.
Ironically, both of them believe in the same God whom they offend and insult as they please by disregarding both the Divine Positive Law and the Natural Law. Both of them should realize that the Holy Scriptures they claim to believe in can never be interpreted in a way that would contradict God’s eternal laws. Like Pope Benedict said this past year, war can never be justified in any circumstance. The pope is viewed as the vicar of Jesus Christ who is known as the Master Teacher of Nazareth, the promised Messiah of the Old Testament.
Following God’s Instructions
This Master Teacher of Nazareth said the Pharisees: “The God you know is not the God I know. You preach a God of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. The God I know is a God of love and mercy, one that when you strike him on the cheek, not only He would not strike back but he would rather let you strike him on the other cheek as well.” If actions speak louder than words, it is quite obvious that the Palestinians continue to practice the “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” philosophy that Jesus so adamantly rejected and condemned.
And to turn an insult into an injury, the Israelis went even further with their developed philosophy of “one hundred eyes for one eye and one hundred teeth for one tooth.” Both the Israelis and the Palestinians need to study the teachings and warnings of the Master Teacher of Nazareth, all of which were vindicated, year in and year out, for the past 2,000 years. This great Teacher of all times warned us saying that we will be treated in due time the way we treat others. If we are kind with others we will eventually experience kindness.
On the other hand, if we harm others we are bound to experience same harm. Hence, we need to outline seven steps the Israelis must take to help bring about genuine peace in the Middle East. Likewise, we may also outline seven steps the Palestinians must take to make a good contribution to a permanent peace in this fragile global area. Besides, we must also enlist seven steps that both the Israelis and the Palestinians should take together so that their children and grandchildren would be able to live in permanent peace.
The seven steps the Israelis could take to bring about a permanent peace in the Middle East may be enlisted as follows:
1. Stop the further building of Jewish homelands on Palestinian land. This is so essential that President Obama stressed its importance in his speech in Cairo fairly recently.
2. Bring to an end the unlimited confiscation of Palestinian territory through the further construction of roads to accommodate the Jewish settlers at the expense of the Palestinian people.
3. Abolish the apartheid that the Israelis created among Palestinians, which has been condemned by US President Jimmy Carter and by Archbishop Tutu who described it as worse than the one they had in South Africa.
4. Encourage Jewish settlers in Palestinian land to move to Israel and to donate their houses to poor Palestinians. Those that would prefer to remain in the settlements must then be ready to become Palestinian citizens.
5. Re-build the cities that were destroyed in both the West Bank and Gaza. Let the poor Palestinians be somewhat rewarded for the enormous suffering they have gone through over such a long period.
6. Provide all Palestinians with needed schools and hospitals that would replace those that the Israelis destroyed. Besides, provide such institutions with all needed material to make them effective.
7. Keep in mind that, while in the Old Testament the Jews were viewed as God’s children who owned Israel, in the New Testament Jesus stated that God’s children were all believers with Israel belonging to all people, Jews and Gentiles.
The seven steps the Palestinians could take to contribute toward a permanent peace in the Middle East may be enlisted as follows:
1. Avoid taking the initiative to attack Israel. Retaliation always brings negative results. If God behaved toward us same way as we behave toward each other, the human race would have been exterminated long time ago.
2. Generate positive and constructive energy in such a way that the whole world will unite behind the Palestinian cause. Everyone in the world is convinced of the right Palestinians have to live in a sovereign state of their own.
3. Use the force of good dialogues and strong diplomacy with all the major countries in the United Nations, especially those in Middle East, to hasten the formation of two peaceful sovereign states.
4. Encourage your young men and women to study in some of the best colleges and universities in the world as to help create a future generation that would be capable to work out wonders for the Palestinians.
5. Concentrate on building a strong civilian economy in cooperation with all the surrounding countries, including Israel. The Palestinians understand very well the importance of securing and retaining peace.
6. Recognize Israel as a sovereign nation as set up by the United Nations in 1948. Since then most of its surrounding nations have proven to be quite hostile, which forced the Israelis to panic and go to extremities as a result.
7. Pray God daily for a permanent peace in the Middle East. Let us keep in mind the words of Jesus in this regard: “With prayer you can move a mountain.” Prophet Muhammad brought this statement also to his people.
The seven steps that the Israelis and Palestinians should take together to bring a permanent peace in the Middle East may be enlisted as follows:
1. Making a solemn promise to God that there will never be a war again in the Middle East, as far as the Israelis and the Palestinians are concerned. This may be achieved through true repentance and genuine mutual forgiveness.
2. The Israelis should create a program of disarmament and arms control in the entire Middle East region. Also, Israel should ask the United Nations to implement a program leading to the abolition of all nuclear weapons.
3. The Palestinians should promise to create a productive and fully demilitarized nation after the example of Costa Rica that would make Palestine become officially the “Island of Peace” in this global area.
4. Both countries need to recognize fully each other and establish embassies in their respective territory. They should also work hand in hand to develop the civilian economy with notable success.
5. The Israelis and the Palestinians should retain the boundaries that were established in 1948, while making Jerusalem, as Pope John Paul II stated, an international city governed by Jews, Christians and Moslems.
6. Both governments should keep in mind that they do not own the involved territories nor do they own their respective peoples. Their job is to bring a permanent peace in the region characterized by stability and security.
7. The Israelis and Palestinians could set an example to the world by changing the mission of the military, from a negative agency of destruction to a productive agency that proves to be beneficial to all people without exception.
Of course, it would not be enough for the Israelis and the Palestinians to establish good and cordial relations. All the nations in the Middle East must demonstrate respect toward the established sovereignty between these two nations. In fact, all of such nations should establish an embassy of their own in both Israel and Palestine. After all, these two nations are not just any other two nations. They both occupy the land that has been sacred in the Bible, the land that is linked to great prophets, the land of the promised Messiah.
If there should be one global area in the world that is characterized by stability, prosperity, mutual respect, and peace should be the Middle East. All those living in this region should recognize the fact that they have one common enemy over which they happen to have full control. This enemy’s name is wars of any kind, which could be controlled through the exercise of such virtues as patience, humility, courage, honesty, perseverance, faith, piety, tolerance and fortitude. The sum total of such virtues may be described as wisdom.
In conclusion, we may state that the feasibility of peace in the Middle East amounts to a real possibility if all the parties involved in that area were to work on it with deep faith in God, the exercise of good will, and the determination to eventually succeed by all legitimate means.
Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.
President, International Association of Educators for World Peace, NGO Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education, Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament
Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 9 Jun 2009.
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