Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 22, 2002
Rampant injustices haunt the Middle East
The weeks around Easter this year seemed the most hope forsaken for Middle East watchers. What it was like - and still - is for those who live there is difficult to fathom. "Unimaginable" the pope called the relentless human suffering as he pleaded for both sides to stop the violence.
If your homeland has never been occupied or your family been expelled to live in a refugee camp, if you have never experienced the rumble of tanks, the dull thud of bombs or the whirling woof of helicopters in your neighbourhood, then dig deeply into your innermost soul to call forth an image of a human being who must live under such circumstances without a shred of evidence in 50 years that life will return to normal one day.
Whether you favour the Jews or the Palestinians in this conflict, it is well to remember that this is not a football match where you cheer for your favourite team to win. There are well-documented histories available for anyone interested in an objective analysis.
Michael Peers, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada sums it up this way: "The history of the relationship between Israel and the Palestinian people is complicated by the actions of governments over the past century and more.
The British promise in 1916 of a Palestinian state has not been fulfilled. The principles by which partition was to have proceeded, brought forward in 1947 by the UN, have not been realized.
"The uprooting of thousands of Palestinians in 1948-49 and again in the wake of the 1967 war, and the legacy of despair that has resulted for their descendents, is a deep offence against God's justice."
"Since 1967," Peers writes for those who might have forgotten, "Israel has illegally occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza.
In the wake of the Israeli war of independence in 1947-49, the homes, orchards and settlements of Palestinians became spoils of war. The right of Palestinians to return to their lives in those places has not been recognized by the State of Israel, and the territories annexed have not been returned."
The Saudi Arabian peace proposal is similar to other proposals that have been brought forward, namely: return the stolen territories and allow Palestinians in exile to resettle there.
As it is difficult to imagine the mindset of a Palestinian youth, driven to desperation to fight one of the most sophisticated armies in the world with homemade pipe bombs strapped to his or her waist, so it is difficult to enter the mind of a Jewish people who have been despised and mistreated for centuries, culminating in the holocaust.
The closest analogy might be that of a sexually abused child which in turn abuses children as an adult.
We might empathize and understand the root of violence on both sides, but it should be obvious to both parties that escalated violence will not bring about a just peace.
Orthodox and Catholic bishops in the region as well as the World Council of Churches and Kofi Annan of the UN , even the Security Council including the U.S., are pointing out that fear cannot cast out fear and violence cannot bring an end to violence, and terror in the territories feeds terror in Jerusalem.
The cycle must be broken.
Rabbi Lerner, who has received death threats because of his criticism of Israeli policy, suggests that "the only victory possible for Israel is the victory of reclaiming the moral legitimacy of a people who are historically committed to valuing love, justice and compassion above power, violence and domination."
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