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.