The topic of the current conflict in the Middle East was brought up by Brenna, one of my Onething Intern buddies. She had an assignment for one of her college classes to write an opinion paper on the ongoing conflict between Israel and the nearby Arab peoples.
In case you don't pay attention to the news, there has been renewed talk of peace between Israel and Palestine, by means of Israel giving Palestine more land, and even possibly by splitting Jerusalem in half. In my eyes, this isn't really news, as it's been the same story since Israel was established in 1947. They even gave back control of some of the land to Palestinians in 1994 in hopes of making peace, but shortly afterwards the Palestinian attacks escalated yet again.
The questions the professor asked Brenna to consider for her assignment were:
1. Why hasn't the situation changed for so long?
2. Why is it so important to bring a resolution to this conflict?
3. How can peace be achieved?
He also asked her to consider these real world issues:
4. Territory: Palestinians want Israel to relinquish all of the West Bank and East Jerusalem to the Palestinians. Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, but is reluctant to return the rest of the disputed land.
Q. Should Israel return the land? Why or why not?
5. Jewish settlements: Palestinians believe that all Jewish settlements in the West Bank or Gaza Strip are illegal because they violate UN resolutions and international law. Israel is reluctant to withdraw.
Q. Are Jewish settlements in violation of UN resolutions and international law?
6. U.S. Support: Palestinians argue that the United States has unilaterally supported Israel in this conflict, creating a power imbalance in the conflict. Some believe U.S. support to Israel has promoted hatred among the Arab countries.
Q. Has the U.S. supported Israel? Why?
7. Security issues: Palestinians officially favor peace and disarmament. While the images of kids throwing stones at Israeli tanks are common, Palestinians also have access to arms, and extremists carry out attacks. Meanwhile, Israelis have an impressive armed force that is regularly used aggressively against Palestinians.
Q. How does the military prowess of both countries compare?
8. Jerusalem: In 1947, when the UN voted for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, it designated Jerusalem as an international city. In1949, Israel declared Jerusalem as its capital city. Palestinians say that Israel must return all of East Jerusalem and the Islamic and Christian holy sites in the Old City. Israelis believe that a united Jerusalem must remain under Israeli control.
Q. What could be done to make Jerusalem an international city?
9. Palestinian refugees: Palestinians say that Israel must accept responsibility for Palestinian refugees who fled or were expelled as a result of the creation of Israel. Refugee camps often become semi-permanent and develop their own communities and informal economies, however, the social costs are high.
Q. What are some of the problems encountered by Palestinians in refugee camps? What has been done to alleviate these problems?
10. Water: Palestinians say that Israel must relinquish all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including the Jordan Valley. Israel believes that it must have access to the Jordan Valley. The construction of the wall has also created concerns on the access to water reservoirs.
Q. Are water resources presently allocated based on population size and agricultural use? How water is allocated? How it should be allocated?
These questions actually sparked something new in me, and has forced me to take another look at my biblical ideology regarding Israel in the context of real current events. This is a very difficult thing, and something that is often side-stepped or misunderstood.
It is a subject that it seems nobody has answers to, so I figured the best place to go for answers was to ask God to reveal it to me through the Holy Spirit and through His Word. What I ended up with was something that seemed to make sense, although it is hard to accept, and even hard to believe in and hope for. Yet I there is no other answer. Like most difficult questions, it seems the only right answer is the super simple answer you here so often from the high pitched voices of children in Sunday School.
Oh, it seems so foolish, it's almost painful... but it's the only way!
Next time: International Justice and Spiritual Mercy