Every US president has tried to make peace in the Holy Land. It is a special place, revered by 2/3 of humanity- Muslims, Christians and Jews- as the place where the religions were founded, where prophets walked, where God established His temple. The Bible tells us to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6) The very name means “city of peace”.
From the beginning of his tenure, President Obama has made peace in the Middle East a top priority. One of his first appointments was George Mitchell as special envoy to the region. Mitchell won the Nobel Peace Prize for resolving the conflict in Northern Ireland. Obama called the leaders of both Israel and the Palestinians as soon as he took office. He just hosted Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas, President of Palestine, and is currently visiting the region.
The “war on terror”, which is the current excuse for the ongoing expansion of the US military, revolves around the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. The former are mostly Muslim, though some are Christian. Israelis are mostly Jewish, although about ¼ are not.
The essence of the conflict is this: Palestinians and Jews are both descended from the original Israelites. Both have lived in the land since before Roman times. But the ancestors of the Jews were forced into exile by the Romans in the second century AD, and dispersed all over the world- the diaspora. The ancestors of present- day Palestinians accepted the Roman customs and were allowed to remain.
Jews never forgot their origins, and in the 19th century began a movement back to the Holy Land- Zionism- which eventuated in the founding of Israel in 1948. The Palestinians refused to recognize the right of the Jewish state to exist, and many were pressured by the Israelis into leaving. So Palestinians in turn were exiled, mostly to the West Bank and Gaza.
The Muslim extremists take the very existence of the state of Israel as an attack on the umma- the worldwide body of Muslim believers. Some radical groups have declared violent jihad- holy war- against the entire Western world, especially the US, because of its support of Israel. If peace could be made between Palestinians and Israeli Jews, the biggest rationale for extremist Muslim jihad would disappear, and along with it, the American rationale for the “war on terror”.
Peace in the Holy Land would defuse the escalating militarization of the planet, and lead to worldwide peace. Then the nations could cooperate in solving the pressing problems facing our planet. War makes all the problems worse- global warming, pollution- especially nuclear- famine.
Thus, the key to solving planetary problems lies in making peace in the Holy Land.
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What is blocking the peace effort? Why has every US president, wielding the military might and authority of the most powerful nation on earth, failed to find a solution to the conflict in the Holy Land? The answer is threefold- money, power, and twisted religious fanaticism.
1) Money: the many headed military-industrial complex feeds on war. Over half the US budget goes to finance the war machine. The money interests control US politics, and are tied in to the Israeli lobby- AIPAC, which funds the successful Congressional campaigns of pro-war candidates for Democrats and Republicans.
In the last administration, both Carlyle and Halliburton, the Bush and Cheney family corporations, made enormous profits from war. Bush invented the endless “war on terror” to rationalize the need for an ever-expanding Pentagon budget, and Obama is continuing the pattern.
The powers-that-be want war. War is the ideal profit-maker- it uses up goods that need endless replacement. It doesn’t depend on the whims or pocketbooks of consumers. It justifies repression at home and impoverishment of the people to the benefit of the super-rich. The Israelis the US is the largest supplier of arms to the rest of the world; the Israelis are the 5th largest arms exporter.
2) Power: the desire to dominate and control resources- land, oil, water, transportation routes- by way of military might, interferes with peaceful negotiation for a solution that would satisfy all parties. Israel acts as a military base for Western interests in the region, opposing the surrounding Arab nations. The latter are funding Palestinian extremists to prevent what they see as further encroachment on their territory and birthright.
3) Twisted religious fanaticism: all three religions- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam- are essentially peaceful. They teach peace as a vision to strive for, peaceful resolution to conflicts, rules of conduct to maintain peace. The scriptures of all three discriminate between good and evil, and label as “evil” those who maliciously harm others.
Psalm 11:5 The LORD searches the just and the wicked;
the lover of violence He hates.
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