Conflict in Palestine

Conflict in Palestine December 19, 2023

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

– Matthew 5:9

I’m a peacemaker at heart. Some of the best precepts are to treat others kindly, stand against the mistreatment of others, and if all else fails, use power. Sometimes you have to sit on someone to keep them from harming others. Creating peace is not a simple task.

The conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis exemplifies these. It’s very difficult to write about making peace in that land without rubbing everyone’s fur the wrong way. I mentioned fur. We have cats and more fur than we know what to do with. We like dogs, too, and currently have two huge ones inhabiting our home. And kids. I had to mention dogs and kids, because you have to be careful what you say or someone thinks you’re the wrong kind of people.

Image: Gaza Rally, Columbus, Ohio By Becker1999 from Columbus, OH - 04 IMG_8207, CC BY 2.0, on Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.0, on Wikipedia
Image: Gaza Rally, Columbus, Ohio By Becker1999 from Columbus, OH – 04 IMG_8207, CC BY 2.0, on Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.0, on Wikipedia

Practical Spirituality series – resolving religious conflict

Spirituality gives our life meaning and purpose, and influences our behavior in practical ways regarding how we treat each other, including activism and resolving disputes. Our spiritual frame of reference and actions reflect the love of God.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine has been going on for over 70 years. It raises intense emotions around the world as people favor one side or another and react to extreme harm to people.

It’s infuriating that it continues because it kills and maims many innocent civilians and military personnel on both sides. And because it foments political instability and war in the region and throughout the world. As the land screams out from pain, the world screams with it.

It’s beyond time for it to stop threatening the entire world. But it won’t stop until people get realistic about the facts and put pressure on both sides to come to a settlement.

I stand up for both the Israelis and Palestinians. Both should have fair treatment and safe homes. Trying to take sides in this tit for tat is like a children’s game of who started the argument. The blame game simply stokes endless conflict.

Who has a right to the land of Palestine and Israel?

Ownership of the land in Palestine-Israel is disputed and complex, and maybe isn’t even relevant. It’s a major cause of conflict in the region and around the world. Land ownership issues have to be resolved so that it creates a lasting peace.

Jews were mostly off the land for nearly 2000 years. Facing endless persecution in many parts of the world, in 1948, the UN recommended dividing the land into two states, one for Israelis and one for Palestinians.

The US thought the plan was unworkable, but finally agreed. The UN put in place a special international regime for Jerusalem. They split Jerusalem with the Eastern part going to the Palestinians. The Palestinian capital is in East Jerusalem. The Israeli capital is now in West Jerusalem.

The UN’s position is that Jerusalem should be administered by the UN and placed under a “corpus separatum.” It has not rescinded this resolution. The UN has also consistently rejected unilateral declarations of sovereignty over Jerusalem.

The two-state solution has been a recipe for endless conflict. It doesn’t work and has no support from Israelis or Palestinians in the land. Recent Pew research shows that support is under 40%. Neither side trusts the other to govern the land in a single state or divided state.

Displacing Palestinians from their homes was a major cause of problems.

Israel and the Palestinians have no reason to trust each other. Israel keeps taking land through wars and laws that belongs to the Palestinians. In its only election to date, the people in Gaza elected Hamas to represent it, which is a terrorist organization whose goal is to govern all the land.

Zionism is a political party in Israel. Its goal is nebulous, but originally was to dominate and govern the land of Palestine. Not all Jews are Zionist, and even Zionist goals vary by faction. The two words, Jews and Zionism, are not synonymous.

The major armed political force in the area, opposing Israel as a nation, is Iran. Iran has always been against dividing the land. Iran helps fund Hamas and other organizations in other countries, funding terrorism in the region for its own goals.

Iran wants to weaken the US presence in the region and become the leading power in the Middle East. Iran is a Shia-Muslim majority state, while most regimes in the Middle East are governed by Sunni Muslim rulers. It claims to act to protect Shia Muslims, which questions its support for Palestinian Arabs who are mostly Sunni. Iran doesn’t see the two-state solution as acceptable.

The question of who owns the state is impossible to answer. Views depend on alliances and goals. There is no right answer.

The search for answers to peace

Many attempts were made to reach a peaceful settlement in the area. Part of the reason it never arrives is because factions within each group don’t support the agreements. Part is because even when steps are made, Israel can’t trust terrorist groups and doesn’t move forward.

Some things considered have been the two-state solution, a one-state solution in which all sides rule equally (like in Lebanon), elections in which either side can come to power (like in Turkey), having the UN or Jordan and Egypt govern. None of them want to govern the ungovernable. None of the solutions guarantee preventing repression and violence.

What about the Temple Mount with the Dome of the Rock, which is the Al-Aqsa Islamic Mosque

One of the contentious issues that needs to be worked out is the Temple Mount. Some Zionists and some Christian Zionists, consider it to be the home of the ancient Jewish Temple.

The Al-Aqsa Islamic Mosque sits on this highest point in Jerusalem. Some Jews and Christians believe they will remove the Mosque and rebuild the Temple. This degree of religious intolerance and hatred speaks volumes.

This is the intolerance that drove the Inquisition in Europe and the US and killed 3,000 to 5,000, additionally persecuting anywhere from 150,000 to millions. Intolerance was endemic to Christianity in that era. In France, the Church deemed the Cathars as heretics and carried out the killing of 200,000 to 1,000,000 people, including women and children. The Thirty Years War between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Germany, killed between 5 to 8 million soldiers and civilians.

In what way does any of this reflect a God of love? It doesn’t. It’s hand-crafted suffering.

It’s all violent argument over things we don’t even know for certain. More recent archaeological evidence strongly supports that the Temple was in the City of David below the mount. The mount was simply a Roman garrison, and evidence strongly supports this, yet traditional thinking will probably continue.

The intractable problems

Illegal Israeli settlements, land confiscation through laws and war, and the Right of Return for Palestinians moved off their land, are major obstacles to peace. As long as Israel is under threat, the world expects these to continue.

Iran is a special problem. Iran’s funding initiative to destroy the political nation of Israel, driving endless terrorism against the state, is the other major obstacle to peace. As long as Palestinians continue to threaten violence against Israel, funded by Iran, security is the excuse to continue to confiscate land.

How will this get settled with Iran? Unfortunately, Iran hasn’t shown it can get along with anyone. According to the US State Department, it’s a religious state that has a policy of systematic persecution of its own who don’t adhere to dress codes, strict worship practices, and those of other Muslim denominations such as Gonabadis, Dervishes, Kurds, Sunnis, and some Shia. This also applies to Bahai’s, Christians and especially Christian converts. People routinely have their possessions removed and disappear or get death sentences. It doesn’t get along with neighboring nations who are among these religions in its quest for power.

There is slight hope. Iran reserves a seat in politics for Iranian Jews, Zoroastrians, and Christians. But discrimination against these is routine.

Iran is a nation of intolerance that wants to see uniformity in the region. That ideally means all Shia Muslim with no religious differences. And no Western influence or cultural influence.

Sometimes you have to sit on someone to keep them from harming others. Creating peace is not a simple task.

The Israelis have a valid concern with nations like Iran fueling terrorism against Israel in the region. But seizing land brings with it a curse. People don’t like it and they strike back endlessly.

Both nations need room to grow. They have expanding populations. We should address these needs for there to be peace.

Is giving back land the answer?

The world doesn’t give back land. Not to Palestinians or to Israelis. Doing that only causes pain to others. It’s spiritually bankrupt. Justice would take making them whole. But the past is not a blank check. If the world gave back land, we would have to give the US back to Native Americans and the Southwestern US back to Mexico, destroying much of the US population and their homes. Europe would return to ancient kingdoms.

Many people favor Israel or the Palestinians on religious grounds. That’s fine. But certain types of religious thought are divisive and inhumane and need to stop. Both Israel and Palestine should have a safe homeland. If we can’t live together peacefully, then we’re not children of God. God is love. Love doesn’t treat people like enemies. That’s hate.

Throughout ancient and recent history, people persecuted and displaced the Jews from lands, and we should acknowledge them as a unique and persecuted nation of people. Israel has been their homeland, whether they owned or ruled it, and their presence there seems fitting.

The world should give Israel a homeland, but it should do so in a way that respects Palestinian’s rights and ensures the safety of their homes and families.

Probability Space for thinking of solutions

Seventy-seven years of war in Israel, and stirring up terrorism and war in other parts of the world, only creates misery and hatred for people. It offers no solutions other than reasons for continued hate. We need to be big enough to realize this and put an end to it.

This problem lies heavily on us with a desperate need for a solution. The answers are there if we allow ourselves to think constructively about them.

How can we bring peace to these people?


Can they share more of the land under an international administration with all people able to own land?

Can political boundaries be re-established in a peace agreement?

Can three Western nations and three Sunni Muslim nations become part of a permanent UN sponsored oversight group to do binding mediation in Palestine over issues, so that neither group can take unfair advantage and repress the other?

The UN Security Council needs to expand its membership and then make voting a two-thirds majority. Or even 90% majority. Or have nations with conflicts of interest excuse themselves from voting or have their vote set aside. One nation can’t continuously stand in the way of peace if it has vested interested in war, conquest, religious intolerance, and regional power.

We need to stand up for geo-political boundaries. They shouldn’t be subject to invasion by predatory countries and we shouldn’t allow these to happen. Each country in the world should sign an agreement to never challenge geo-political boundaries, or risk losing all standing and isolation in the world. The boundaries are what they are.

Human rights need to become universal and not subject to religious extremism. Part of human rights should include the right to protection, food, shelter, and the ability to make a living. Money shouldn’t be the consideration that stops it from happening.

These are things we need to work toward. It will take time, but we have to start.

No doubt Israel will eliminate Hamas, but not without enormous human suffering. Then people with a conscience need to take charge, end this conflict through negotiation and settlement, establish governance, and live in peace.

Outside countries need to develop the plan because Israel and the Palestinians have both demonstrated repeatedly that they absolutely can’t get a peace plan approved because of conflicting factions in their own groups, and because at times they are too far apart. Peace negotiations have to be binding on all parties, including Iran.

The two countries need to establish an oversight group to reconcile future differences with mediation and binding arbitration, including addressing the needs of both to satisfy population growth.

This small portion of the world should have no reason to cause human suffering and threaten world peace. If they can’t work it out, and we can’t get them to work it out, we just might be doomed.

Let’s give the world a gift this Christmas. Permanently end this conflict.

I like cats, dogs, and kids. And Jews and Muslims. And Christians. I’m for all of them.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” – Matthew 5:9

  • Dorian

God’s answer is us. Our answer is God. Together we make the world better.

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