Yesterday’s New York Times editorial, titled Diplomacy 102, suggested that it “would be a very important start” if
the (Obama) administration would hold both Israelis and Palestinians “accountable for any statements or actions that inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of talks.”
We also hope that if progress lags (in moving forward with a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine), the administration will be ready to put forward its own proposals on the central issues of borders, refugees, security and the future of Jerusalem.
Mr. Obama has another chance to move the peace process forward. This time he has to get it right.
But the Obama administration has no chance to “get it right,” as his predecessors had the same bleak prospects. Why? Because the conflict betweem Israel and the Palestinians go back thousands of years, with each side claiming, for religious and imperialistic reasons (which are often intertwined) that they are the “true” proprietors of the disputed land.
Case in point, Elizabeth, apparently on Israel’s side, commented on the above-referenced editorial:
There will be no true peace in the Middle East until the Arab world acknowledges that the land of Israel is the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people there can be no peace.
Jews were living in ancient Israel, Judea and their capital of Jerusalem for over 1,800 years before the birth of Muhammad and over 2,000 years before the Muslim Conquest of the Holy Land.
Just because our ancestors were expelled into exile by the Romans does not mean we Jews have forfitted our rights to our ancestral land.
Now that does not mean there cannot be a peace agreement with the Arabs, it does mean though that this history deserve recognition.
Similarly, just as Palestinian refugees need to be recognized so too do the hundreds of thousands of Jews expelled from Arab countries in the 40’s and 50’s.
The key to resolving this conflict is understanding the history and connections of the other side.
Meanwhile, Efraim Karsh’s book “Islamic Imperialism,” which makes the case that the push for Islamic expansion among Muslims is the key to understanding the constant and unending turmoil in that region, quotes numerous Arab sources touting Palestinian ownership of the lands. Citing Palestinian Authority Television from Oct. 2, 2000, Karsh records:
Since [the caliph] Umar and Saladin we haven’t given up our original rights in Jerusalem and al-Aqsa, our Jerusalem, our Palestine. If time constitutes the [the criteria of] existence, then Israel’s temporary existence is only fifty-two years long while we, the Palestinian Arabs, have lived here for thousands of years, and we, the indigenous population, will eventually expel the invaders, however long it takes.
Or, Karsh notes,
In other words, the “Question of Palestine,” is neither an ordinary territorial dispute between two national movements nor a struggle by an indigenous population against a foreign occupier. It is a holy war by the worldwide Islamic umma to prevent the loss of a part of the House of Islam to the infidels: “When our enemies usurp some Islamic lands, Jihad becomes a duty binding on all Muslims.” Like other parts of the world conquered by the forces of Islam, “the land of Palestine has been an Islamic trust (waqf) throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, [hence] no one can renounce it or part it, or abandon it or part of it.” This makes the present struggle over Palestine a direct extension is Islam’s historic fight against its two foremost medieval enemies — the crusaders and the Mongols:
“The Muslims had faced those invasions and planned their removal and defeat, [and] they are able to face the Zionist invasion and defeat it. This will not be difficult for Allah if our intentions are pure and our determination is sincere; if the Muslims draw useful lessons from the experiences of the past, and extricate themselves from the vestiges of the [Western] ideological onslaught; and if they follow the traditions of Islam.”
So, this isn’t a battle that’s going to be won, I don’t think, with Diplomacy 101 or Diplomacy 102 because the struggle itself predates modern diplomacy, democracy and rationality itself. The millennial struggle for that section of the Middle East can be reduced to only one of three conclusions: the efforts or intentions of Muslims regarding Palestine have simply not been to Allah’s liking (thus conflicts continue) or Allah is impotent to assist Arabs in reclaiming the land from Israel or Allah wasn’t there in the first place. Since the Koran was strewn together in the 6th century, much of it replicated the Bible, and coming long after even the New Testament was written, I would conclude the latter.
As Karsh correctly notes,
Only when the political elites of the Middle East and the Muslim world reconcile themselves to the reality of state nationalism, forswear pan-Arab and pan-Islamic imperialist dreams, and make Islam a matter of private faith rather than a tool of political ambition, will the inhabitants of these regions at least be able to look forward to a better future free of would be-Saladins.
But that’s not the stated call for Muslims. The stated purpose, as Karsh notes, and as I have referenced previously, has been consistently the following down through the centuries:
- “I was ordered to fight all men until they say ‘There is no god by Allah.’ – Muhammad’s farewell address, March 632
- “I shall cross this sea to their islands to pursue them until there remains no one on the face of the earth who does not acknowledge Allah.” – Saladin, January 1189
- “We will export our revolution throughout the world … until the calls ‘there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah’ are echoed all over the world.” – Ayatollah Khomeini, 1979
- “I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is not god but Allah, and his prophet Muhammad.” – Osama bin Laden, November 2001
Thus, forging peace in that region, while reason and logic are far from its shores, becomes impossible while that particular brand of religion entangles every strain of independent thought.