Is There Hope for Peace in the Middle East?
by Richard Davies
Not a day goes by when you won’t find some sort of coverage on the present situation in Israel. If you really felt the need you could follow the unfolding events 24 hours a day via the news or the Internet.
Invariably you will hear both sides of a very serious, long-standing conflict. After an hour or so, you’ll probably start to feel like I do sometimes, overwhelmed, worried and numb.
Is there any hope for peace in the Middle East? This question has been on the hearts and minds of many people not just in recent history but for over centuries.
Amid the cacophony of debate and argument the cycle of violence rolls on unrelentingly. Innocent men, women and children from both nations are dying every day, not even on a battlefield but in the cities and towns they call home.
Every prospect for peace that is raised is almost immediately sedated by another senseless act of brutality. The Israeli government under Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority will not even negotiate with each other.
Any hope for reconciliation between the two nations seems impossible, but that is exactly what I am proposing.
The dictionary tells us that reconciliation is defined as, “to cause to be friendly or harmonious, to settle differences.” Obviously that is a tall order when considering what is being dealt with but that does not make it impossible.
Israel and Palestine just might have more in common than most people recognize.
- Consider that both nations have been at perpetual war since 1948.
- Both nations have also lost proportionately large numbers of the young men from small populations during those years.
- The economy in the region has suffered greatly and is in desperate need of a boost.
In short there is a lot of suffering and misery both presently and historically. My hope is that the people of the region, especially the younger generations, will understand this and begin a change that will bring true reconciliation between their peoples.
It will not be easy for this to happen, both parties will have to make considerable sacrifices and accept some compromise. There is historical premise for believing this will work. For many centuries Jews and Muslims in Palestine co-existed peacefully under Ottoman rule and even fought along side each other against the European Crusaders! Even today, a large number of Palestinians live and work in Israel in peace and unity.
There are a thousand issues that could be addressed by either side — the right to self-determination, control over Jerusalem, border patrols, terrorism… The multitude of problems makes the whole situation appear beyond reach even of the governments involved.
Perhaps it would be wise to glean insight from the words of the Psalms from the Old Testament, a text that is venerated as holy by Jews and Muslims, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:14).
The conflict has reached an impasse, it is obvious that military actions or suicide bombings will not bring about desired results but rather exasperate the problem. The time has come for peace, and the first step is for both sides to implement a cease-fire. This would have to be followed by honest, open negotiations even if it hurts.
I know all this might sound a little rich coming from a Canadian Christian who has never even been to the region. So, please try to understand where I’m coming from, I care about all people regardless of race, colour, creed or orientation.
My personal political feelings on the Israel-Palestine conflict go out the window when children are shot, or when university students are blown to pieces at a trendy cafe. These things should not happen, but they do. When they do, we should be there to plead for reconciliation because it will lead to peace.
We’ve shoved God out of politics, but can bringing him back in the picture bring hope for peace? Can religion be part of the solution?
Richard is studying Political Science at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He’s a sports nut who loves books and magazines, and learned a bit of Welsh while he was in the UK. Copyright 2002 iamnext.com. May not be used without permission.