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Our Friday News Analysis | What the World Reads Now!
BREAKING NEWS! The NEIGHBORS Want Peace!
The Hague, 17 October 2023 | If you know of any story that is decisive, tell the world. We're still searching.
The vast majority of the Israeli Jews (73.8%), Israeli Arabs (97%), and Palestinian Arabs (85.7%) want peace, heretofore, either not realized or denied by all sides of the Divide. This is breaking news affirmed by the Jerusalem-based Israel Democracy Institute and the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.
By Abraham A. van Kempen
Building the Bridge Foundation
20 October 2023
Almost Impossible Obstacles … ALMOST!
In the past, those in command of the peace talks dared not take off at full throttle—the results: one deadlock after the other. Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Madrid, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna have succeeded in producing stalemates often ending in standoffs with one foot in the stirrup, the other in the sand.
The leadership on ALL sides of the Divide has yet to strike an acceptable peace package. The majority on both sides reject the proposed resolutions ostensibly designed to fail from the start. "Only 39 percent of Palestinians and 46 percent of Israelis support a peace agreement package riddled with obstacles that comprise:
1. A demilitarized Palestinian state [ rejected by 80% of Palestinians but supported by 61% of Israelis ]
2. An Israeli withdrawal to the Green Line with equal territorial exchange [ rejected by 56% Israelis; supported by 61% Palestinians ]
3. A family unification in Israel of [ONLY] 100,000 Palestinian refugees [ overwhelmingly rejected by both; not enough for the Palestinians, too many for the Israelis ]
4. West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; and,
5. East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine; and,
6. The Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall under Israeli sovereignty; and
7. The Muslim and Christian quarters and the al-Haram al-Sharif / Temple Mount under Palestinian sovereignty [ items 4, 5, 6, 7: all seemingly prayers without an end in sight ]
8. End of the conflict [ ironically desired by all but impeded by all the stumbling blocks]
9. Cease all future claims against the other [ supported by most Israelis, rejected by most Palestinians because they won't let the Israelis get something for nothing, and neither side will permit the other to get away with murder ]."
The leadership should concoct more palatable recipes with diversified varieties. And, if any leader can't stand up to the heat, tell them to get out of the kitchen. Leaders who cannot hammer out an acceptable peace resolution are not worth their salt and should be replaced. Of course, it is easier said than done from my ivory tower. However, the region's leaders must creatively combine the many regional contradictions to produce a well-balanced yet spicy feast.
What is the Side of the Story that is Not Yet Decisive? Edited by Abraham A. van Kempen.
The Palestinian–Israeli Pulse: A Joint Poll, released on 22 August 2016, strongly suggests that the vanilla-flavored, one-bite-feeds-all peace fare is not appetizing enough to satisfy everyone.
Part 1 of 3
By: Abraham A. van Kempen, Senior Editor
Building the Bridge Foundation, The Hague
The Times of Israel
Original publication date: 12 October 2016
Republished: 20 October 2023
All sides are coming to the table with their distinctive dietary demands. They'd rather go home hungry than try out different recipes. We will need a Plethora of Possibilities to make Peace a Palatable Preference. And everyone knows 'Trust is the Thrust,' but few, if any, trust the other. So, the prospects of peace continue to be a prayer without end.
Yet, the vast majority of the Israeli Jews (73.8%), Israeli Arabs (97%), and Palestinian Arabs (85.7%) want peace, heretofore, either not realized or denied by all sides of the Divide. This is breaking news affirmed by the Jerusalem-based Israel Democracy Institute and the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. Check out their survey of Israeli and Palestinian Opinion (executive summary here, complete survey here). Respondents include 1,270 Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem and 1,184 Jewish and Arab Israelis.
Most respondents are shocked that the other craves peace and just about all misconstrue each other's intentions. It gets worse. Most everyone wants peace, but few agree on the route to getting there. Even if I invite only the 'peacemakers' to partake in a feast of culinary delights buffet-style, I'd have to separate them into two rooms. Why? One group, a slight majority, wants a two-state solution (Israeli Jews 53.4%, Israeli Arabs 87.1%, Palestinians West Bank 50.9%, Palestinians Gaza 52.1%). The other group, a minority, wants a one-state solution (Israeli Jews 20.4%, Israeli Arabs 52.4%, Palestinians West Bank 32.8%, Palestinians Gaza 37%).
But then you might think each group would break bread together in separate rooms. Wrong! Instead, they'd probably be breaking each others' heads (figuratively speaking) arguing who's right and who's wrong, some still claiming "what's mine is mine, what's yours is mine also" and not even going forward with the notion "what should we do to once and for all get our children and theirs out of the quagmire, a quagmire of history and a quagmire prolonged by today's deep traumas and collective hysteria?"
The more predominant issue is: will they want to come, assuming they are permitted to cross borders freely? Most might be willing to come. But they want protection. These peace-loving people fear each other. The Israeli Jews (64.8%) fear the Palestinians more than the Palestinians fear the Israelis. Three-quarters of the Israeli Arabs fear neither.
Right now, offering everyone a smorgasbord to handpick their favorite bits of peace wrapped in regional delicacies might be premature. Few will come. When we meet, I will serve a special treat, baklava, but which baklava? From Zalatimo, of course! Whenever I leave Jordan, everyone on my list gets a box. But then I hear (especially in Iraq): "You should try ours'. It tastes even better" (no counterargument from me), and just about everyone agrees, "Let's just savor Turkish Coffee and not talk about Turkish baklava," so I won't.
What's my point? If you can't please your special guests – the very ones who seek peace – not even with the sweetest delicacies baked by Zalatimo in Jordan, founded in 1860 by Mr. Mohammad Zalatimo in the Old City of Jerusalem, haul in an abundance of sweets from all over the Middle East to let people pick and choose to become happy and satisfied; and, why not?
So, what must happen before the peace seekers can freely come to the table? This is what I suggested to His Royal Highness King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud:
The first task is to heal the traumas and to commit to understanding each other. It is no longer a question of 'who is right.' Let's focus on building a bridge that will be best served for all, a path that embraces love, kindness, and generosity of spirit. "As long as each community clings to its own story, unable to acknowledge what is plausible in the other side's story, peace will remain a distant hope," says Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of 'Embracing Israel/Palestine.'
But first comes first. The Arab League, the European Union, and the Holy See must infuse an estimated EU100+ million to finance the work of thousands of Peace Corp Professionals to help the people of Israel/Palestine believe in their self-esteem and the worthiness and goodness of the other.
And why EU100+ million? It will cost the EU billions more if we don't start buttressing the foundation toward peace now. The European Union must also treat Palestine and Israel as de facto NATO affiliates, an open secret Israel has sustained for decennia. This way, neither may attack, invade, or occupy the other.
After that, the people of Israel/Palestine must reason first within their respective communities and then externally with the other to heal their broken hearts. This will take time but hopefully not as long as what the majority on both sides anticipate: 77% of the Israelis and 73% of the Palestinians think the chances are low for a two-state solution – or any road toward peace – to crystalize in the next five years.
What are they waiting for? When will they serve the main entre, the most tasteful that the best of the best chefs can offer? The sweet aroma of peace is in the air, all around us. A clear majority on all sides of the Divide wants peace (Israeli Jews, 73.8%*; Israeli Arabs, 97%*; and Palestinian Arabs, 85.7%*).
Are they just stumbling over their hurdles? Is a movement toward peace solely about real estate, jobs, position, or status? Or should it be about humanity, community, and the public interest? When Dr. Martin Luther King talks about the mountaintop, he is talking about a higher level of consciousness, a movement that harmonizes the "I" with the "we" and the "we" with the "I."
Do the people in Israel-Palestine have the moral courage to dare go beyond their 'I' Sight to allow them to imagine a moral path with 'we' Sight, reinforced with hindSight, inSight, and foreSight (adapted from Civil Rights Icon Ms. Ruby Sales during an interview with Krista Tippett of OnBeing)?
Can they rid themselves of the hurdles, real or imagined? "Only 39% of Palestinians and 46% of Israelis support a peace agreement package [riddled with obstacles] that comprises: 1) a demilitarized Palestinian state [rejected by 80% Palestinians but supported by 61% Israelis], 2) an Israeli withdrawal to the Green Line with equal territorial exchange, [rejected by 56% Israelis; supported by 61% Palestinians] (3) a family unification in Israel of [ONLY] 100,000 Palestinian refugees [overwhelmingly rejected by both; not enough for the Palestinians, too many for the Israelis], 4) West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and 5) East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, 6) the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall under Israeli sovereignty and 7) the Muslim and Christian quarters and the al Haram al Sharif / Temple Mount under Palestinian sovereignty [all seemingly prayers without an end in sight], and 8) the end of the conflict [ironically supported by all, but impeded by all the stumbling blocks] and 9) all future claims against the other [supported by most Israelis, rejected by most Palestinians because they're not going to let the Israelis get something for nothing and neither side will permit the other to get away with murder]".
The leadership should return to the kitchen to concoct more palatable recipes. And, if leaders can't stand up to the heat, tell them to get out of the kitchen. A leader who cannot hammer out an acceptable peace resolution is not worth their salt and should be (democratically) replaced. Of course, it is easier said than done from my ivory tower. However, the region's leaders must creatively combine the many regional contradictions to produce a well-balanced yet spicy feast.
What matters most to the people of Israel/Palestine? Just about all prefer to trust, not fear, the other. It will help when Europe treats Israel and Palestine as two distinct de facto NATO affiliates so that neither may attack, invade, and occupy the other. It will also help when the region's people get to know each other.
The statistical indicators of The Palestinian-Israeli Pulse make that clear. "The level of threat on both sides regarding the aspirations of the other side, in the long run, is very high: 54% of Palestinians think that Israel's goal is to extend its borders to cover all area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea and expel its Arab citizens. Some 27% [of Palestinians] think Israel's goal is to annex the West Bank while denying political rights to the Palestinians. Some 35% of Israelis (40% Israeli Jews and 8% Israeli Arabs) think Palestinians' primary aspiration is to conquer the State of Israel and destroy much of its Jewish population; 19% [Israelis] think the goal of the Palestinians is to take over the entire state of Israel.
Only 17% of the Palestinians think Israel's long-term intention is to withdraw from all (7%) or some (10%) of the territories occupied in 1967 after guaranteeing its security. Some 37% of Israelis (33% of Israeli Jews and 61% of Israeli Arabs) think the aspirations of the Palestinians are limited to regaining some (21%) or all (16%) of the territories conquered in 1967".
BREAKING NEWS! "When we asked Palestinians and Israelis to tell us what they think the long-term aspirations of their side are, the picture shows that the two sides perceive much more moderate aspirations on their side than anticipated by the other side. Only 12% of Israelis say Israel aspires to annex the West Bank and expel the Palestinians living there; 18% say that Israel intends to annex the West Bank without granting political rights to the Palestinians living there.
Among the Palestinians, only 10% say that the Palestinians aspire to conquer the State of Israel and destroy much of its Jewish population; 15% say Palestinians aspirations are to defeat the State of Israel and regain control over pre-1948 Palestine".
So what do the people of Israel/Palestine want sooner than later? "Among Israeli Jews, a Jewish majority is seen as the most important value (35%), followed by peace (32%), democracy (20%) and Greater Israel (10%). Among the Palestinians, Israeli withdrawal back to the 1967 borders and the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital is seen as the most important value (45%), followed by obtaining the right of return to refugees to their 1948 towns and villages (32%), and building a pious or moral individual and a religious society (13%)".
As extrapolated from the Pulse, most Israelis and Palestinians want to be safe from 'terrorist' attacks, especially perceived state terror. Most Palestinians worry more about jobs than about territory or borders. Most people on all sides want little more than for the other side to leave them alone. Before they are willing to break bread together, they would like to put bread on their tables to care for their families and raise their children.
And finally, the people of Israel/Palestine crave honor, respect, and dignity from each other; a more pliable and palatable peace process with built-in degrees of expandability, flexibility, and versatility; in short, fluidity predicated on 'We' Sight not just 'I' Sight. This will focus on this series's third and final part: A EU Complement to the Arab Peace Initiative.
- Most Palestinians (51%) and Israelis (58.5%) support the two-state solution. Only a minority of Palestinians (34%) and among Israeli Jews (20%) support a one-state solution. Support for the one-state solution is highest among Israeli Arabs (52%). The Israeli Arabs seem ambivalent. Most (87.1%) of those polled also support the two-state solution. Some support either one or both.
What matters most is that they want PEACE.
Can and will the Israelis and the Palestinians destroy their enemy by becoming friends with all the give and take to make and keep the friendship? They will want nothing more than a complete reconciliation with their neighbors.
"We can't get away getting something for nothing … we can't get away with murder … let's tear down the walls between us, share the land, and break bread together … and here is cash, earnest money, a compensatory resolve to seal the deal."
"We cannot give up on the search for an end to this conflict," says President Barack Obama in his response to my letter dated 16 August 2016.
When will the people in the Region say to each other: "Welcome home." As mentioned in Part 2, the people of Israel/Palestine crave honor, respect, and dignity from each other; a more pliable and palatable peace process with built-in degrees of expandability, flexibility, and versatility; in short, fluidity predicated on Dr. Martin Luther King's 'We’-Sight not just 'I’-Sight, the building blocks of a 'Beloved Community.' Their leaders must galvanize the multitudes with moral courage and moral imagination into an accord.
In deference to the long-standing resolutions declared by the United Nations, the European Union and the United States could support the Arab League and the people of Israel/Palestine in helping to form a Beloved Community. They have been in each other's backyards for millennia. The land of Palestine is the land of Israel, and vice versa. After crushing the revolt of Shimon Bar Kokhba (132 CE), the Romans coined 'Palaestina' as the name of the region in an attempt to minimize Jewish identification with the land of Judea and the other Tribes of Israel.
Sooner than later, the people of Israel/ Palestine can and will be Living (Apart) Together, inside ONE Home Land within TWO borderless states, their ONLY option. Will the people of Israel/Palestine take up the challenge and converge toward a series of catalytic possibilities? The alternative will inevitably result in more cataclysmic calamities.
The EU Complement to the Arab Peace Initiative
To start, I want Europe to apologize to the people of Israel and the people of Palestine. The European Union can help move mountains. Fortified with an invincible NATO, the EU is also the most powerful economy on earth, almost bigger than the combined economies of the United States and China (Editor's note: in 2015-2016).
Being 'more' European than most, a dual national of the United Kingdom and The Netherlands, born on the outskirts of Israel/Palestine (on the SS Atlantis, British Ship, Red Sea), let me be among the first to say: "I am sorry. I am sorry for what we've done to the Jews. I am sorry for what we've done to the Palestinians." I speak volumes in silence.
Second, I propose that Europe measures the State of Palestine and the State of Israel according to one standard with fairness and equitability.
Third, I propose that Europe recognizes Israel and Palestine and treats both equally as de-facto NATO 'affiliates' so that neither may ever attack, invade, and occupy the other. Frankly, Israel already embraces de-facto NATO status. Iran will never officially attack Israel, despite the rhetoric, spin, and fears perpetrated by and from all sides. Iran fears NATO, not Israel.
Fourth, I propose borderless or virtual borders to facilitate freedom of movement and the right of passage for EVERYONE. Yes, with a BENELUX-type structure, one may freely cross the many divides in the region. Citizens of one country may freely work, travel, and live in the other – i.e., Jewish settlements sited in Palestine –but remain citizens in their states. So, Israel remains Israel. Palestine remains Palestine. Jerusalem remains Jerusalem, but everyone in the region may live and work where they please but vote only in their country. This is nothing new. Is Europe a single federation or a union of individual nations? Both! Am I proposing a one-state solution or a two-state solution? Depending on the eye of the beholder, it could be either or both (see Petition 'Living Apart Together').
Fifth, I propose that the warring parties compensate the other for losses incurred because no one should get something for nothing. How? Invoke Europe to construct an EU-type Marshall Plan and lend the money to Israel and Palestine to enable them to compensate the other, proportionate to the degrees of harm done. Because of Europe's negligence, we should not sweep our guilt under the rug. We caused the conflicts. We are the culprits. Europe owes it to the Israelis and the Palestinians to sweeten the Arab Peace Initiative with hundreds of billions of euros in loan guarantees and grants.
Europe could monetize the EU-type Marshall Plan with a computer entry, the modus operandi used by the United States when it didn't have a dime to spare after World War II. Newly 'printed money' flooded Europe with 'hard currency' without causing a Weimar-type hyperinflation. Economies coming out of the ashes cannot be overheated because ash does not burn. Today, Europe can flush cash into Israel/Palestine for micro and macro development to generate jobs, jobs, jobs.
As the supplier of all materials and the exclusive purveyor of all goods, products, and services, Europe will significantly benefit precisely how the United States benefited from the Marshall Plan. From the late 1940s through the 1950s, we Europeans bought just about everything from the Americans, rebooting their manufacturing base and the humming of their plants. And today, we're still the largest investors in the United States.
Sixth, I want justice because no one should get away with murder. Should we hang Netanyahu like Sadam? No! Let's move forward and go beyond a justice based on tit for tat, despite what Netanyahu did to the Palestinians as Sadam did to the Kurds. To respond to 'a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye, 'one could choose to give a tooth or an eye if needed and warranted. Why not reach the pinnacle of becoming the light of the world, each committing to becoming an instrument of blessing and Giving the Gifts that God has Given?
Seventh, I would prefer an Act of Reconciliation similar to the one in South Africa under the tenets 'live, let live’ rather than 'kill, get killed' and 'forgive to forget,’ a fundamental economic principle and a precious lesson in life.
Eighth, I propose that the people in the Region vote to temporarily (perhaps for five years) demilitarize the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the 'Palestinian Defense Forces (PDF)' as a condition to enable NATO to guarantee security for all Israelis and all Palestinians with heavily equipped NATO troops wearing white helmets, costs to be proportionately defrayed among the Israelis and Palestinians derived from new-found revenues as a result of the new capital infused by Europe. The IDF and the 'PDF' are also destabilized factors from the beginning. Their aims, portrayed as Divinely inspired and depicted with the best of intentions, have often been counterproductive for the greater good of the Region and the world.
Ninth, invoke the Arab League together with the European Union and The Holy See to consider investing an estimated EU 100+ million to finance the work of thousands of Peace Corps Professionals to help the people of Israel/Palestine believe in their self-esteem as well as the worthiness and goodness of the other.
And, tenth, LEAVE THE HOLY SITES IN THE HOLY CITY ALONE! Until things REALLY cool down, entrust them tentatively to something like a UN-mandated Trust. The Holy sites in the Holy City belong to everyone because those who have faith in the God of Abraham also believe that God is the God of Adam and Eve, the God of all humanity. West Jerusalem becomes the capital of Israel. East Jerusalem becomes the capital of Palestine with no borders to separate either. Why? God views Israel and Palestine as one and the same.
Change, not chains, is the goal. It can happen in one generation. After 1945, it took one generation for Europeans to finally welcome Jews into the world community (though at the expense of the Arabs in Palestine). I have seen firsthand the miracle of China. In the mid-'70s, there were hardly any cars in Peking. In one generation, China has leapfrogged into the 21st Century with characteristic gridlock on the many thoroughfares in present-day Beijing. In the United States, one generation has made a difference in humanizing civil rights and expanding the socio-economic landscape of America.
"Tomorrow is today … [with] a fierce urgency of now." (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
A Catalytic Thrust Toward Trust!
Israelis cannot love Israel enough unless they also love Palestine, all of Palestine, and I’m not referring to merely the granules of sand sculpturing the land; the same is valid on the other side. Palestinians cannot love Palestine enough unless they recognize Israel's divinely inspired and inherent goodness despite those rotten apples spoiling the bunch. And all the sand in Israel and all the sand in Palestine are ONE. So, permit others to call the Land by the name of their conscience. What’s in a name if it’s the same? ‘Holland’ and 'The Netherlands' are the same: two different names, the same country, the densest populated in the world, inhabited by a diverse populace still dealing with all the ups and downs of coping with each other.
Nonetheless, sharing a tiny piece of earth, the Dutch have created one of the highest living standards. The Israelis and the Palestinians could be as successful, if not more. Instead, Israel is but a state on the dole, dependent on foreign aid to finance, viewed by many as Israel’s Final Solution, to annex more land for Jews only, ‘cleansed’ of the indigenous natives.
Time for Real Zionism9 … “Creating a Heaven on Earth”
It is time for real Zionism. Simply stated, ‘Zionism’ means doing God’s work, God’s people creating a heaven on earth, ordinary people doing extraordinary things, exemplary in every way, the Light Among Nations.
Time for Real Jihad10 ... “Striving in the Path of God … al-jihad fi sabil Allah”
It is time. The word ‘Jihad’ frequently appears in the Qur’an with and without military connotations, idiomatically articulated as "striving in the path of God (al-jihad fi sabil Allah).” Jihad, Arabic: جهاد jihād, an expression of hope, literally striving or struggling, especially with a praiseworthy aim. The word ‘Zion’ ranks among the most sacred words in Judaism and Christianity and is just as sacred as the word ‘Jihad’ with strikingly similar meanings and connotations. Zion and Jihad are but two words that connect Jews, Christians, and Muslims in our Abrahamic Faiths. Judaism and Islam are the two closest religions to each other.
What’s more, for centuries, Jews and Muslims have lived in harmony side by side. Many classical works of Judaism are written in Arabic. Historically, both have lived a lot better together than within Christian realms.
Lights and shadows with moments of grief characterize the relationship among Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Can we work toward genuine reconciliation among all believers in the one God? Can we become one in the Spirit to do that which has the most chance of being good for all concerned? Judaism honors the Almighty as protector of the human person and as the God promulgating the promises of life. Christianity knows God is love and expects humanity, created in His image, to manifest Agape 11 love. Islam views God as good, compassionate, and merciful. He grants the believers His abundant mercy. Inspired by these convictions, those who are one in the Abrahamic Faiths – Jews, Christians, and Muslims – reject the supposition that hatred threatens the earth, that endless wars continue to plague humanity, and that humankind will destroy itself. And yet, peace between our people remains a bridge too far unless trust can be the thrust to bring us together.
Zion has a broad spectrum of meaning, more remarkable than any single entity or identity. Zion, which simply means ‘fortification,’ is also known as the seat of power not just for the ‘kingdom’ of Ancient Israel but especially the [Spiritual] Kingdom of God. Zion is another name for Jerusalem, the ‘City of David’ but has always been superseded as ‘the City of God.” (Isaiah 52:1-2, the “City of God,” the people of God becoming the “Light among nations.” Jeremiah 31:6, “Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God.” Mount Zion signifies the spiritual Kingdom of God as in Hebrews 12:22: “You have come to Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” … the New Jerusalem that will descend out of heaven (Revelations 21:10-26), the ‘heaven on earth’).
EDITORIAL | Peace is in the air.
For millennia, Rabbinic circles in Jerusalem hold Galilean Israelites and half-breeds and the area where they live with contempt [no different today]. Their religious worship did not conform to the standards of the elitist Pharisees. The Pharisees condemned the Israelites in Galilee for their mixed ‘ancestry.’ They are the descendants of the Northern Ten Lost Tribes of Israel that have defected from Ancient Israel and intermarried with pagan Gentiles. Startlingly, Jesus accepted the Israelites and Gentiles.
And now a historic bombshell! These indigenous Palestinians – Israelites and Gentiles, including those who converted to Christianity – have primarily remained in the Land. At the same time, the Holier-than-thou elitists and the Pharisees were driven out and expelled by the Romans.
In 1918, two gifted young men, David Green, aka David Ben-Gurion, and Itzhak Ben-Zvi, the future Prime Minister and the future President of Israel, state in their book, ‘Eretz Israel in the Past and Present’:
“To argue that after the conquest of Jerusalem by Titus [70 CE] and the failure of the Bar Kokhba revolt [132 CE], Judeans altogether ceased to cultivate the land of Eretz Israel is to demonstrate complete ignorance in the history and the contemporary literature of Israel …
Like any other farmer, the Judean farmer was not easily torn from his soil, which had been watered with his sweat and the sweat of his forebears …
Despite the repression and suffering, the rural population remained unchanged.”8
In 132 CE, the Romans changed the region’s name from Judea back to Palestine. Palestine has always been a magnet attracting people from all over. Of course, some Palestinians are Arabs, as are many Mizrahi9 or Oriental Middle Eastern Jews.
But most Palestinians, an admixture of Israelites and Gentiles, are an amalgam of humanity from all over. For millennia, the Region greets and meets East and West, with merchants traveling back and forth between Europe and Asia. Many have settled in the Land. Because of this vibrant genetic blend, Palestinians rank among the highly intelligent, the best looking, and the stunningly beautiful, some with blue eyes and bronze skin, others with blond hair yet dark-skinned, and some possible descendants of the Crusaders with red hair.
What most Israelis and Jews still deny, a history not taught in Israeli high schools, is that during the 7th Century CE, many indigenous people of Palestine, Jews, and Christians, converted to Islam to please their new Arab overlords. As converted Muslims, they are exempt from paying the exorbitant extra surtaxes required of People of the Book. Consequently, many indigenous people of Palestine are more Israelite than many present-day Jews who have wandered into the region from Central and Eastern Europe.
“The local population in Palestine is racially more closely related to the Jews than any other people, even among the Semitic ones. It is quite probable that the fellahin 10 [native peasant in Palestine] in Palestine are direct descendants of the Judeans and Canaanite rural population, with a slight admixture of Arab blood …”11
David Green, aka David Ben-Gurion, and Itzhak Ben-Zvi continue:
“The fellahin are not descendants of the Arab conquerors, who captured Eretz Israel and Syria in the seventh century CE. The Arab conquerors did not destroy the agricultural population they found in the country. They expelled only the alien Byzantine rulers and did not touch the local population.
Nor did the Arabs go in for settlement. Even in their former habitations, the Arabians did not engage in farming … They did not seek new lands to settle their peasantry, which hardly existed. Their whole interest in the new countries was political, religious, and material to rule, to propagate Islam, and to collect taxes.”
According to Tel Aviv University historian Professor Schlomo Sand:
“… the ancient Judean peasants converted to Islam … they had done so for material reasons – chiefly to avoid taxations. Muslims are exempt from paying the sur-taxes imposed upon the People of the Book. They were in no way treasonous. Indeed, by clinging to their soil, they remained loyal to their homeland … In addition to the Muslim law, there was, for a long time, a code of ‘fellahin laws, or unwritten customary judgments known as Shariat al-Khalil – the laws of the patriarch Abraham.’”
Before going to Galilee, Jesus traverses through Samaria and opens His heart to the Samaritans. What's so significant about Jesus touching the Samaritans? Jesus dares to defy the prohibited, forbidden, and outlawed taboo. By Order of the Pharisees, a Judean is barred from coming close, let alone touch and talk to any Samaritan.
The ‘Chosen’ Pharisees snub Samaritans as theo-geopolitical and social outcasts, untouchables and worthless, not too different from how the present-day Pharisees humiliate today’s native-born Palestinians as an ‘urban problem.’ The Pharisees then insist, “Samaritans will never belong to our exclusive club, the Party of the Pharisees,” a stance indistinguishable from present-day ‘Israel for Jews-only.’
Paradoxically, the Pharisees mindset in Modern Israel, demonstrably denounced by Jesus Christ 2000 years ago, is now calling the shots in the Region. Nonetheless, the Samaritans chose to follow Jesus, slighting the Pharisees. In 70 CE, the Romans expelled the Party of the ‘More Chosen,’ who talked about the walk of being Holier–Than–Thou,6 giving the impression they are even holier than the One God in Heaven.
As stated by Jesus Himself, no stone is left after their Second Temple's destruction. From Samaria, Jesus continued ministering to the Israelites and Gentiles in Galilee. The Pharisees belittle the Israelites in Galilee as the ‘remnants of Israel,’ Israelites married to 'pagan Gentiles' and degrade the Gentiles in Galilee as impure. The pure-bred pedigreed Judeans scorn and vilify the half-breed Israelites and the Gentiles of Galilee.
Who are these new ‘Christ Followers in Galilee;’ these Gentiles; these half-breed Israelites, but Israelites, nonetheless? All of them, the remnants of Israel, the Gentiles in Galilee, the half-breed Samaritans in Samaria, and many, many other ethnic groups in the Region, make up the vibrant human tapestry, whom I love and admire as my brothers and sisters, the indigenous people of Palestine … Yes! Today’s Palestinians!”
What makes today’s Palestinian Body of Christ so remarkable? Many of today’s 400,000 Palestinian Christians descend directly from Christian converts – Israelites and Gentiles – in the early Church whom the Lord Jesus Christ has personally touched. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the oldest and perhaps most crucial Christian institution in the Holy Land, has existed in unbroken succession since the Roman period.
The Prophet Isaiah prophesizes that God would honor the people of the Israelite tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali, who are living together side-by-side in Jesus’ times with Gentiles in Galilee. Isaiah:
“The ‘Israel of God’ will be enlarged, because the Gentiles will respond in faith to the Son of Man [God in the flesh eds.] and his message of the [Spiritual eds.] Kingdom [of God eds.], adding to the Ancient Israel of God” (Isaiah 9: 1-7; Romans 2:28-29; 9:6-8; Galatians 6:15-16 GNT).
And who are the neighbors of the present-day Judeans? Samaritans! Most are Good Samaritans who suffer at the hands of some Judeans. The vast majority of the Israeli Jews (73.8%), Israeli Arabs (97%), and Palestinian Arabs (85.7%) want peace, heretofore, either not realized or denied by all sides of the Divide.
A minority on both sides (Israeli Jews, 27.2%), Israeli Arabs (3%), and Palestinian Arabs (14.3) tyrannize the majority of neighbors who demand peace. The minority wants to kill, get killed. The majority wants to live, let live.
Peace is in the air. The neighbors want peace.
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