|Musings from the Christian Left
by Michael Bindner
|Bringing Peace to Israel
Currently, the United States is locked in a war against terrorism, the main issue of which is the Israeli-Arab struggle. If the U.S. wants any hope for peace, this struggle must be ended.
The focus of discussion in the peace process has been on Israeli settlements. This is misplaced. The premise of a Zionist state that permanently puts Israeli Arabs and Palestinians at a political and economic disadvantage must be addressed. The United States justifies aid to Israel because it is an outpost of western democracy in the Middle East. The extent to which Israel mistreats its people is a mockery of that promise. While the United States is hardly pure in its treatment of ethnic minorities and indigenous people, at least we are not conducting helicopter attacks upon them. When we fund Israel, we fund the Zionist concept, which is at variance with our national ideals. If we fund any regime, it should be one that promotes human dignity and liberty for all within its boundaries. While our support for Israel has as much to do with domestic political concerns and the shame we as a nation so rightly earned for allowing the Holocaust to happen, and denying entry to Jewish refugees, it is time to begin to look to the future, rather than to the past.
There are two options for bringing peace to Israel. The first is partition - not just of Israel and the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza, but of Israel and a state that includes both Israeli Arabs and Palestinians. Israeli Arabs are still second-class citizens in many ways. In examining partition, we look to the example of India and Pakistan, who partitioned for the same reason. Even today, there is no peace between them, only better weapons. A unified Israeli Arab/Palestinian state is likely swallowed up by Lebanon, Syria or Jordan and leave Israel insecure, so we look to a second option.
The second option is less distasteful than partition, and more in keeping with the promise of both democracy and Judaism: total equality under the law for all Israelis and Palestinians in a single state (in other word, annexation). Consider Palestinians as full Israeli citizens - and abolish any legal or practical distinctions based on religion or heritage in keeping with the sacred Law as found in the Book of Leviticus. Palestinians must end their desire for a separate state and join with the Arabs in demanding full civil rights as Israelis, including a limited right of return. If a person is born in a country, or his parents have been, allow him to return without restriction (as long as that person wishes to live in peace). If one is looking to reoccupy the land of ones grandparents, it is probably best to stay put. The Palestinians must commit to non-violence. Without such a commitment to peace, the Zionist stance is justified and not even partition is an option.
To find peace, there must be a catalyst and it most likely is religion. For some, Zionism has as much to do with Judaism as ethnic nationalism. A major motivation for Zionism is religious, the desire for the restoration of the Holy of Holies. Many believe that the Ark of the Covenant is buried under the Temple Mount. However, there is scholarship on the issue indicates that the Ark was moved prior to the Babylonian Exile. It has been traced to an island in the Mediterranean Sea and then to the Jewish community in Ethiopia, which converted to Coptic Christianity. Its possession is a major tenet of the Ethiopian Coptic Church. It is said to currently be in the possession of a Coptic Monastery, who protect it with automatic weapons. Other scholarship claims the heirs of the Knights Templar are holding it in England. In either case, there is much evidence for the fact that it is not be found in under the Temple Mount.
The question arises, if it is not in Israel, how is it to be restored to Zion? Certainly the answer is not through violence. Ultimately, I do not believe that the deity that is shared by the peoples of the Book will allow the return of the Holy of Holies until there is peace, and peace through justice. The treatment of Palestinians and Arabs violates the Torah prohibition of molesting aliens, which is how they are viewed. In a real sense, however, the Arabs are not aliens but brothers in Abraham who have the right to reside in the land and who have been for generations. For the Holy of Holies to be restored, these brothers must be treated with justice. With that in mind, I offer Nine Points for Peace in Israel.
Israel annexes all occupied territories and the United States, as Israel?s long-term sponsor, will pay compensation to Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Residents of these territories are granted Israeli citizenship.
Arab states recognize Israel.
The war footing against the Palestinian people ends. Individuals disarm. All trials are by civilian authorities with the right of mixed juries made up of both Arabs and Jews.
4. Peace Keeping
In the interim, an international force undertakes peacekeeping activities as the Israeli military stands down.
5. Israeli Arab rights
Barriers to full participation in the political process by Israeli Arabs are removed. Religious laws, including Sabbath laws, do not apply to non-Jewish residents or businesses.
A constitutional convention is called to draft a Constitution for the State of Israel, which is approved by plebiscite by all Israeli citizens, including those within the former territories.
7. Right of Return
Palestinians or their children born outside of Israel have the right to Israeli citizenship and citizenship in the country of their birth. Later generations apply for residency and petition for citizenship after a period of years. Members of certain terrorist organizations, such as Hammas and Islamic Jihad, forfeit their right of return.
The United States underwrites compensation for land seized or abandoned that has been transferred to Israeli ownership at the current market value less improvements. Compensation is paid to returnees and to those who chose not to return or to their descendents, provided that members of certain terrorist organizations, such as Hammas and Islamic Jihad, receive no compensation.
9. The Ark of the Covenant
The Coptic Church of Ethiopia returns the Ark. A new Temple is constructed at a new site in the Jewish quarter. The Catholic Patriarch and his Orthodox counterpart transfer the Ark to the appropriate authorities.
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