You can find interpretations of the history of the Israel-Palestinian conflict which support any political view. Who knows what is correct other than those who were there? Though any cop will tell you, even eyewitnesses often fail to see what is there.
Some history is not in dispute. After Israel was established by UN mandate in 1947, Arab armies invaded in 1948 from every direction and Israel counterattacked. Many Arab families that inhabited the land prior to mandate left before the war, expecting to return after the Arab victory. We know what happened. Israel won, and took territory in excess of the UN-designated borders, and the families that left mostly became refugees. There are about 7 million Palestinian refugees (defined as descendants of those who either fled their homes or were expelled by Israel) and most live in squalor and abject poverty. It is a fact that billions of dollars have been given to various groups claiming to represent the refugees. WHY, THEN, ARE THE REFUGEES LIVING IN SUCH MISERY? WHERE DOES THAT MONEY GO?
After almost 70 years of violent exchanges and emotional upheavals, and untold grief visited on both sides, is there any hope for a peaceful coexistence? If there is, it would be found in only one principle: I call it radical forgiveness.
My radical suggestion will seem dangerously naive to an Israeli, but it would start by Israel saying, “we have been destroying the homes of suicide bombers, building walls and expanding our territory through settlements. Those actions have mostly resulted in more clever bombers, more enemies and more anger rather than peace. What we are about to do doesn’t change our right to exist, but acknowledges the reality of cause and effect. Starting now, no matter what you say or do to us, we will bless you. We will dispense true justice, as the Old Testament commands. In Exodus 22:21, God commands our forefathers, ‘you shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in Egypt. You shall not harm any widow or fatherless child. If you do and they cry out to me, I will hear them and my wrath will burn against you.’ Perhaps if we start obeying God’s Word rather than our anger and fear He will bless us with peace. But even if He doesn’t we will obey Him.”
The experts of today claim that the conflict isn’t about religions, it is about land. How foolish. All human conflict is ultimately about who or what you worship, about who is in charge of your life. The charge that Joshua gave to the people of the exodus before they entered the promised land was: “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15. joshua 24:14
Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”
Uh huh. It wasn’t long before the people broke faith with God and exalted themselves as god. The last sentence of the next book of the Old Testament after Joshua, the book of Judges, ends thus, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” What a mess that was, but you will have to read the whole book. judges 1
Back to modern day Israel. Why do I suggest that Israel make the first move towards radical forgiveness? Because we Jews (I was raised in a Jewish household but chose to believe Christ at age 40) and Christians serve God who wants a relationship with people, and who wants us to express our love for Him through obedience to His statutes (Jews) or our emulation (in spirit at least) of Jesus. Muslims serve Allah, who commands obedience also but not out of love or relationship. In his book No God but One: Allah or Jesus, Nabeel Qureshi says “Islam diagnoses the world with ignorance and offers the remedy of sharia, a law to follow. Christianity diagnoses the world with brokenness and offers the remedy of God himself, a relationship with him that leads to heart transformation.”
The people of Israel could choose to follow the path of radical forgiveness, though it is hard and their theology and materialism may not give way to it. I do not believe that the theology or anger of the Palestinians can allow such a path. I beg to be proven wrong.