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WAR DOES NOT WORK IN ISRAEL / PALESTINE

In my upcoming book “Bold as Love – What Happens When we see People the way God does”  I write about meeting former US ambassador to Israel, Ambassador Feldman.  He was asked why this problem between the Palestinians and the Israeli’s couldn’t be solved.  He said that it could but it took timing, leadership, and opportunity.  It made me think of a new definition of leadership – “Courageous people seizing the opportunity to do the right thing.”  President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and President Abbas – this is your moment – history is being written on what you do, or the absence thereof.  I respect all of you – but it’s time to act like men and lead.  Our entire world is waiting and watching you. 

As the world is getting nervous and is on pins and needles with the current conflict in Israel/Palestine – there are some things I’ve learned having been there many times and having good friends that are Jews & Palestinians.  I have friends there that are politicians, businessmen, doctors, educators – in every field and I hear the same thing.  I am praying for all of them, and I love all of them, and my heart broken over all of this.  Who’s side am I on?  I’m on the side of those that want peace that are Israeli’s & Palestinians – and they do exist – I know them.

First, each side overwhelmingly in every survey done wants a two state solution.  From Jewish & Palestinian college students, cabbies, men, women, faith leaders, and yes – even governmental leaders on each side, I’ve heard the same thing.  Each side believes that the problem is the other side.  This is good – it’s good in that they know and agree on what needs to be done.  It’s good in that each side wants peace.  It’s bad in that they blame the other side.  Each has human reason to distrust the other side.  I’m grateful for former President Bush and Secretary of State Rice, the problem was obvious and so was the solution and they promoted this, sadly it was at the end of President Bush’s term.  This the timing of most Presidents, last thing they try to do before exiting office, except for President Carter. 

Second, as one Palestinian scholar told me – the biggest problem is they are both “victim” cultures.  The Jewish statement “never again” causes overreach on the part of the Jews in how they can be heavy handed with the Palestinians.  The displacement of millions of Palestinians having been driven from their homeland after centuries and millennia prevents them from thinking about moving forward with where things are versus what they wish they could go back to.  This is why outside parties like the US are critical to provide a “counselor” that both parties can sit down with and work things through with.  There was a time that Palestinians trusted that Americans would be fair – I’m not so sure they do anymore.  The two big issues are Israeli security and Palestinian statehood. 

The problem is the US treats this as politics instead of doing the right thing – and as a result we have no respect or credibility.  The current political polarization of American politics is hurting our economy – and the world.  America is not living up to her past reputation of equity and justice, not that she’s always been perfect.  The question is, who can be a “peace broker” in this if we cannot.  Turkey, England, the EU? 

Third, not just during this current crisis – but everyone who has been living in bunkers with sirens for the past 60+ years – this has got to be incredibly destabilizing for people as individuals and culture in general.  Gaza is the most densely populated places in the world.  Putting a wall around it with automatic movement operated machine guns, mines and trying to cut the people off from the world and daily necessities is a recipe for an explosion.  People when forced to live in that animal environment become animals.  Frankly, I’m amazed there hasn’t been more conflict – if it was Texas, speaking as a Texan – I assure you there would be.  Ever heard of the Alamo?

Fourth, you can’t believe media for either side.  They’re biased and polarized.  Both sides are right and both sides are wrong and both sides want their story out and both have sympathetic media.  The truth is somewhere in the middle.  No one ever strikes first – it was a response to the other side.  The understandable and powerful desire for security from the Israeli’s and the understandable and powerful desire for freedom on the part of the Palestinians cause each to think of their own interest more than the others.  Let’s be clear, there are Palestinian terrorist that don’t want to compromise, respect Israel, her right to exist and would circumvent any movement towards peace – this cannot be.  Let’s be equally clear, it isn’t a fence or a barrier – it is a 30 foot concrete wall, with machine gun towers pointing down on the people that has been built around Palestinians in Gaza, Bethlehem, Ramallah, other cities – putting entire populations of millions in virtual “prison” – this is simply unsustainable.

Fifth, if it’s not solved – get ready to send your sons and daughters to war there.  At the end of the day, the solution remains the same –  affirmation of the human dignity of all people there, acknowledgement of both peoples right to be there, and a a two state solution that allows Israelis & Palestinians to live in peace and security.  Why in the West would we not want to deal with this now, versus loosing more sons and daughters to war when the solution will be the same?  We can have leaders that are willing to be men and women and do the right thing – or slaughter one another until we get back to the exact same position again so there will be peace.  This is simply stupidity at it’s zenith.  I have friends that are Orthodox Jews, rabbis and everyday people – they are ready.  The same is true of my Muslim and Arab friends. 

The Orthodox wait for the Messiah and resent an Israel built by guns and war.  The Evangelicals from the west can spout their newly invented dispensationalism – but it denies a kingdom of God where the temple and holy place has been rebuilt – inside each of us.  It’s sad to me, that all sides have nut cases that justify hate, war, and bloodshed.  What kind of faith is this?  Sorry people – I don’t see Jesus tossing hand grenades or shooting AK-47’s or launching rockets.  No, I’m not a pacifist – but neither am I a warmonger.  The world is fast changing and the longer we wait the worse the outcome, the more other nations will get involved and there will be no putting that genie back in the bottle. 

Finally – we must all get on our faces and pray.  That’s all I know to do.  Who wants to see children and innocents killed on either side?  There is no justification for that.  There will be no peace until Jesus comes – or for the Jews the Messiah, but that is no excuse to do nothing.  If the brokenness of humanity will not move us, then let the judgment of God move us.  All of us will stand before God one day and give an account of what we did.  I want to hear him say “Well done” – not “You did nothing.”  All we can do is pray – those in leadership, can act – do so.

Bob Roberts

Bob Roberts

Bob is the founder, senior leader, and chief spokesman for Glocal.net . His primary focus is to connect leaders and estabish relationships to explore transformation. Follow Bob on Twitter at @bobrobertsjr.

Comments

Richard Lawry

Thanks for the even handed approach to the problem laid out in the article. I would love to see this idea used on so many clashes between people.

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John W. Morehead

Thank you for this, Bob. I just posted it on the Facebook page for the Evangelical Chapter of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy, and tweeted it out to our Twitter page. I would love to connect you to the Custodians for the Muslim and Jewish FRD chapters.