Sovereign State of Palestine: Asset to Middle East Peace

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 13 Dec 2010

Charles Mercieca, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service

The struggle in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians has been going on for decades. In the spiritual sphere, they both claim by all means to be the descendants of Abraham, viewing God as their Father. The question that needs to be raised here is this: To what extent do they respect and love this divine Father? The deepest sorrow that good parents may possibly experience is to see their children being hurt and deprived from good opportunities in life.

Master Teacher in Operation

The Master Teacher of Nazareth did not hesitate to tell to those who lived at His time: “The God you know is not the God I know; you preach a God of hatred and revenge, whereas the God I know is a God of love and mercy that when you strike him on the face, rather than resorting to retaliation, he would turn His face to let you strike him on the other cheek.” His teachings relative to the relationship that people should have with each other as children of the same God was crystal clear from the outset.

He exhorted people everywhere saying: “Do to others as you would like others to do to you.” On one occasion, when Peter took out the sword to defend his Master Teacher, Jesus did not hesitate to tell him immediately: “Put the sword away for he who kills by the sword will die by the sword.” Since 1967 when the Israelis and the Palestinians started to struggle against each other, there has never been a moment of peace in the entire Middle East region.

Since then Israel occupied all of the Palestinian territory which was viewed to be the West Bank and Gaza. Instead of taking the opportunity to establish peace through positive and constructive approaches by providing poor Palestinians with good housing facilities, adequate medical needs and schools, the Israelis began to annex every inch of the Palestinian territory with Israel to the detriment of the Palestinians themselves.

Shortly after his visit to Israel and Palestine, Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa said: “I have lived all of my life in apartheid South Africa and I can say that the apartheid that the Israelis created is much worse than the one I experienced in my own country.” Besides, after an extensive visit he made to the Middle East, former US President Jimmy Carter wrote a book in which he stated that “the Israelis have confiscated all of the Palestinian territory and created a real apartheid,” which he condemned. This President has established a world-wide reputation as being a man of integrity and high moral standards.

Original Borders in Perspective

When Israel came into existence in 1948, the boundaries between Israel and Palestine were clearly defined. The world at large felt overjoyed, since the Jewish people have suffered immensely over the previous 1900 years when they were expelled from their own nation and roamed the whole world as a result. However, in 1967 things changed drastically following the war that took place between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The entire Palestinian territory became fully controlled by Israel.

Since then the Palestinians were literally treated as second rate citizens. And to make things worse, Israel began to build the so called settlements for the Jewish people on Palestinian land. Many Palestinian farmers had their land confiscated with no remuneration. To make things worse, many check points were built by the Israelis on Palestinian land in a way that the Palestinians themselves would have to wait in long lines to visit relatives and friends in other nearby Palestinian towns.

At times, pregnant Palestinian women lost their child in the car because the Israelis would not allowed them to travel easily to another city where they could get into a hospital to give birth. But what amazes many in this civilized world we live in, lies in the fact that the vast majority of the nations remained virtually silent. These are the same nations that in 1967 approved virtually unanimously the boarders between Israel and Palestine. The time has arrived when such nations should officially recognize Palestine as a sovereign state.

Brazil and Argentina have already taken a gigantic step in this direction through their recent recognition of Palestine as a sovereign nation within the 1967 established borders. We need many other nations to follow the footsteps of these two important nations in South America without further delay. The Palestinians need to have clout perhaps more than any other nation on earth. Such recognition constitutes a sacrosanct moral obligation. It is, as a matter of fact, a vital necessity to bring about a permanent peace in the Middle East.

Thank God, the world has been blessed with thousands of humanitarian organizations, many of which are NGOs — Non Governmental Organizations of the United Nations. They need to approach the top officials of their respective governments and urge them to recognize officially Palestine as a full-fledged nation with the 1967 borders. To this end, they should also exchange ambassadors. Also, we need to have as many countries as possible to provide the nation of Palestine with anything that is needed to enable it to become in time a strong economic nation, where everyone will be a winner and no one a loser.

Potential Island of Peace

Palestine needs to have a government, which follows the footsteps of Costa Rica as to become a genuine island of peace in the Middle East region. It should seek its strength and security not in the military but in the economic growth and development, in the quality of health care system for its people, and in the good education of Palestinians. One of Palestine’s greatest assets should be found in replacing fear with courage, hatred with love, revenge with forgiveness and frustration with hope.

At this point, God will definitely take over and He will finish the job in making Palestine one of the most prosperous nations in the Middle East. The strength of a nation needs to be measured only by its people’s character and ability to use their talents merely for positive and constructive purposes. It is not to be measured in terms of accumulated weapons and so called military strength. As we may be aware of, in the past some academicians described the military as a “terrorist organization sanctioned by the government.”

In fact, the military is the only institution on earth that is subject to no laws whatsoever. It has no regard of the Divine Positive Law, which God gave to Moses. This includes such commandments as “you should not kill, you should not lie, and you should not destroy the property of others.” It disregards also the Natural Law which deals with the protection and respect for our environment. In fact, the military industry has polluted our air and water with toxics that caused cancer in millions of people many of whom died afterwards.

Besides, the military has no regard for Ecclesiastical Laws that provide spiritual guidance for all people to live in peace and harmony as well as in love and respect like members of one big family. This is revealed in the millions of refugees the military created in every waged war. Recent examples of this are Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which were considerably destroyed. Moreover, the military has rendered the United Nations impotent since there is no guarantee that anything that this world body of nations decides, is going to be observed.

A brief study of history reveals that most governments tend to use the military to achieve by force what they feel it could not be achieved through dialogues and diplomacy. The slogan of every government that uses the military to achieve what it wants seems to run as follows: “Do what we say or we will obliterate your nation and wipe you out of existence.” As hinted earlier, this has been demonstrated recently in the wars waged both against Iraq and against Afghanistan, where over one million innocent people were killed and maimed while their homes and their belongings were fully destroyed.

Recognition of Palestine

Unless we develop the habit to respect the full integrity and dignity of every single nation around the world, the chances for a permanent peace will remain remote. At this stage of history, Palestine has become the most decimated and disintegrated nation on earth where all kinds of human rights have been virtually violated with no remorse whatsoever. However, we should never give up hope, that is, we should never give up our effort to restore the integrity and wholesomeness of the Palestinian nation.

We need to make as many nations as possible to recognize officially Palestine as a sovereign state with the 1967 borders. As stated earlier, Brazil and Argentina have already taken a gigantic step in this direction. The United Nations should keep pressure on Israel to return all the Palestinian territory to the Palestinians without further delay or procrastination. Of course, there may be several questions raised in the process of doing so. What about the Israeli numerous settlements built up for Jewish people on Palestinian land?

This should not constitute a problem at all. Such Jewish settlements may remain occupied by the Jews but they must fall under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian government. The Jews living in such settlements may be allowed to have dual citizenship, Jewish and Palestinian. Since Palestine, as stated earlier, is expected to concentrate on becoming a strong nation through the development of a challenging civilian economy, good health care system and adequate education of all Palestinians, the need for a military force would be out of question.

This way Israel should have no excuse that the Palestinians in the future may wage a war against it especially that Israel would still retain its military force. Palestine may rely on keeping order through the establishment of a good police force as to assure internal tranquility and peace that would be very beneficial for its future progress. In addition, the nations of the Middle East should make it a point to bring peace and harmony among all people living in this regional area where everyone would benefit fully.

Let us keep in mind the words that US President Eisenhower told the US Congress in his farewell address. He said emphatically: “Remember that all people of all countries want peace, only their government wants war.” This means that the nations that rely heavily on the military for their security are, in essence, enemies of their very own people for all practical purposes. The culture of war has now been going on for centuries. Such a culture brought unneeded suffering to countless millions and total collapse of every nation’s economy even to the nations that “won” the war.

Wisdom of the Master Teacher

Israel needs to respect the wisdom of its own people especially those that that have proven to be insightful and systematically correct, rather than ignoring them. One outstanding Jewish personality was the Master Teacher of Nazareth who reminded the Jewish leaders of His time saying: “You preach a God of the eye for an eye and the tooth for a tooth. The God I know is a God of love and mercy who loves His children very dearly even when they offend Him.” He also told us: “What you do to others it will be done to you afterwards.”

In view of this, the conflict we have in the Middle East is not one that is essentially between Israelis and Palestinians but it is one that is between God and Satan. Those who are working hard to have this Middle East conflict solved peacefully represent God’s angels on earth. On the other hand, those who are constantly resorting to struggles and wars, supposedly to solve human conflicts, represent Satan’s diabolic forces whose job is to continue to destroy human lives and to demolish their places of habitation and all of their belongingness.

In the process of having all Palestinian land returned to the Palestinian government, the status of Jerusalem may be discussed intelligently, keeping in mind this holy city’s historical significance. There are many avenues to this end. Pope John Paul II believed that Jerusalem should become an international city, which is governed by Jews, Christians and Moslems. Later some groups subscribing to this Pope’s view proposed that the government of Jerusalem may consist of 40% Jews, 30% Christians and 30% Moslems.

In view of what has been stated, the Middle East deplorable turmoil between two nations that both claim to recognize God as their merciful Father, needs to be brought to an end sooner than later. If such a belief in God is genuine then they must both recognize that they are spiritually brothers and sisters, members of the same divine family. Let us end with a warning that the Master Teacher gave us: “Not those who recognize God as their Father will enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who hear the word of God and abide by it.”

________________________

Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.

President

International Association of Educators for World Peace

Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education,

Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament

Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University

Hon President & Professor, SBS Swiss Business School, Zurich

 

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 13 Dec 2010.

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