The Bible calls upon Christians to pray for those in authority in the government so that Christians may "lead a peaceful and quiet life" (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Given how corrupt the political process is, I
Right now over four million Palestinians live under the military occupation of Israel. For decades the international community, including the United States, has promised the Palestinians that their grievances would be dealt with. From the unanimous UN Resolution 242 (which called for withdrawal of the Israeli armed forced from the occupied territories and the resolution of peaceful and secure borders for all parties involved), to the Camp David Accords in 1978, to the Oslo Accords in 1993, the United States has repeatedly placed its national honor at stake in finding a just and peaceful solution for Israel and the Palestinians.
Furthermore, President George W. Bush became the first American president to explicitly call for a separate and independent Palestinian state, a proposal that President Obama supports, as well as Republican Speaker John Boehner. And the reason is obvious. As it stands right now, Israel is trying to have three things at once: it is trying to be a majority Jewish state; it is trying to be a democracy; and it is trying to keep all of the land it took in the 1967 war. But the birth rate of the Palestinians in the occupied territories has far exceeded the Israelis, and so logically, Israel is faced with the option of giving up at least one of its three ambitions. It cannot be a majority Jewish state, and a democracy, and continue to occupy the land on which the burgeoning Palestinian population lives. Something has to give.
And yesterday, Netanyahu made it clear that the something is democracy. After calling for a two-state solution himself in 2009, Netanyahu has announced that he now opposes a two-state solution. Many observers had always questioned his sincerity, given the way his administration has eagerly pursued the building of illegal settlements in the occupied territories. But now that he is apparently behind in the polls in Israel, he has decided upon a desperate gambit to appeal to the far right wing in his country by staking out a position at odds with the United States, Europe, and the world.
My concern in this post is peace and not politics, but I do think it is fair to point out that this only reinforces why so many of us were profoundly upset with the decision of the Republicans to invite Netanyahu to speak before Congress two weeks ago. It was an obvious political ploy, and for anyone paying attention, it has clearly backfired. It did not help Netanyahu, and it revealed that Netanyahu intends to defy the stated objectives of both major parties in our country regarding the Palestinian question. In 2011 John Boehner said that Netanyahu understands that a peaceful, two-state solution will require compromise. What does the Speaker think now? And how much longer will the Republican Party allow financier Sheldon Adelson to try to dictate foreign policy based on the best interests of the Likud Party rather than Israel or America?
And what is in the best interests of Israel and America is peace - a peace that will never exist until the Palestinians are given a just and equitable resolution to their desire for a state. The world is a scary place, especially the neighborhood in which Israel lives. But here is the key point. Netanyahu is not Israel. The Likud Party is not Israel. And his government's policies are not making Israel safer in the long run, as even his former Mossad chief acknowledges. He is only fanning the flames of radicalism.
And that affects not only Israel, but also the United States. The treatment of the Palestinians has been used as fodder for one radical Islamic terrorist group after another to generate anger against America. In Osama bin Laden's 1996 declaration of war against America he mentioned Palestine and the Palestinians eight times. Now, I don't believe for a second that the evil leaders of such groups care a bit for the Palestinians. They are simply using whatever means they have at their disposal to inflame hatred against America. BUT - many Muslims around the world do see the injustices taking place against the Palestinians, and those legitimate grievances can be easily leveraged into radicalism. By doing what is right for Israel and the Palestinians in securing a peaceful two-state solution, this propaganda tool would no longer available for exploitation.
Netanyahu has staked out his position very clearly. His opposition to a two-state solution spells doom for Israel as a peaceful, democratic nation. That may be fine with Sheldon Adelson - "Israel isn’t going to be a democratic state — so what?” But to those who love Israel and want to see it remain a peaceful, democratic nation, which can only happen if it stands side by side with a peaceful, democratic Palestinian nation, it matters a lot.
From a Christian point of view, ultimate peace is never going to exist in this life. And it may be that the decades of hatred are so deeply entrenched between Israelis and Palestinians that nothing will ever change for the better in that part of the world. But one thing is certain: there will never be a just peace if the leadership does not want it.