Forging Peace from Conflict

I ache for Israel. No one wins from war. Young people go off to fight only to perish or endure a life scarred by trauma. War yields on objectives but never is it fought to yield a win.

Hospital wards are filled, body bags are sent home, widows are made, children become orphans, lives are shattered and communities broken. To be on the side of the victors is a shallow sense of victory.

There should be no confusion that Israel has a right to defend itself and respond with the hope that its kidnapped citizens can be recovered. I am sorry for the innocent Palestinian civilians who are being hurt in this counter operation. It is a real shame that a prolonged war is the probable and certain future as the voices for peace are drowning to the drumbeats of war.

While I support defense I cannot support a prolonged war or occupation. I understand and respect the need for operations when the objective is to rescue hostages and bring to justice Hamas leadership. I can get behind that. Yet, to go beyond that and prolong Palestinian suffering will only ensure these fires of vengeance and conflict return with fury in generations to come. 

I like many people am angry. Israel and her citizens has every right to be angry too. Yet, vengeance is no way to win a war steeped in religion. Neither the Quran, the Torah or Bible support that. The real war is in the propaganda and media. Israel has won the sympathy of the non biased nations of the world. They would be wise to use that support cautiously and with restraint.

I sincerely love Israel. It is a land I plan to be a citizen of as my birthright. I support the nation and its right to existence and believe history offers absolute precedent for it. There is another way to security and peace besides war.

What Muslims have yet to acknowledge is that Israel has always been occupied by Jews and their descendants and after every expulsion or near extinction event the Jewish people always return for their homeland. 

Its sad because the relationship between Muslims and Jews is truly one of Family. So many historical instances of friendship and an intertwined genealogy where these populations originate from the same tribes of people.

It’s not just the Muslims and Jews; Christians also belong in the lineage and family of people who’s heritage is rooted in Judaism. 

This one seemingly small ancient religion (Judaism) ties together over 4 billion people and who’s story greatly influenced world events and nations spanning continents over centuries. 

I’m only half Jewish (raised Catholic) and in my multicultural perspective I know this much. God redeems those who honor his ways. When you are broken, lost or seeking restoration, you go to God in supplication. You do not commit acts of murder and war. That goes for all of the religions without exclusion.

While there are notable differences between Islam, Christianity and Judaism – the core tenants and respect for life is the same. Only misinterpretation and distortion could confuse Gods mercy for instructions of violence.

Palestine is not a land by name synonymous with Islam. Its name was given by the Greeks to describe the Phillistines who practiced a polytheistic religion in its day. The name was later revived by the Romans as “Syria Palaestina”. The people of these lands and their descendants likely became any matter of Muslim, Christian or Jew and long before being called Palestine the land was called Israel or Judea.

In Biblical times the land of Israel was taken and returned to and from the Jews on many occasions and the Jews always returned to their homeland. The truth of that is documented in scripture.

After the time of Jesus – the Romans expelled the Jews from Israel – many went to Spain and other regions in the Mediterranean. The Jews who remained hid or converted – Christianity and later Islam were their choices. That Roman legacy was inherited by the Byzantine Empire better known as the Eastern Roman Empire. They ruled the land as a great Christian kingdom for over a thousand years. Some of their territory included Anatolia (Turkey), Judea (Israel) and Egypt. 

Ultimately the Byzantine lands were lost to invaders of Muslims from within Anatolia. The crusades were a war waged by the Catholic Church in Rome to re-establish control of the Holy land and with it the Eastern Roman Empire. While true Christianity in its teaching is one of innocence and salvation, the institutions of the Church were continuances of a collapsed Roman state and served as proxy for its surviving reign of power.

Effectively, the Jews were wedged in the middle of the Muslims and Christians and their great Holy war over the power and control of the Holy Land and the Mediterranean.

Many of the Muslims living in Judea/Israel were descendants of Jews whose ancestors converted. They ended up cohabitating the Holy Land with a remaining population of Jews and Jews who were invited to Ottoman Turkey to flee the Spanish Inquisition. For all intents and purposes these people sharing the Holy Land were cousins. Muslims were protectors of Jews from Christian/inquisition persecution over many generations. 

In Spain, Jews enjoyed a gilded age of prosperity under Muslim/Moorish rule. It was the take-over by the Catholic Church that lead to the inquisition and the brutal persecution of Jews and sweeping conversions. 

Ironically, Jesus was Jewish and never identified as anything but or lead us to believe his coming was about institutionalizing a persecution of his people. What was done in his name is probably the greatest embarrassment of Christianity. Muslims are repeating this grave mistake today. I know little of the Quran except that it promotes peace the same as the Bible not war.

I do not see Jewish settlement of Israel as a religious act. I do believe their rights to this land is legally preserved in the records of history. The historical evidence just so happens to be recorded in Scripture. 

While it is a core tenant of modern Christianity to spread the gospel – I hope Christians will remember and heed the lesson that it is not the way of Christ to force and coerce people to adopt their belief. You can only love and accept others just as Jesus did.

The broad impacts of the Spanish Inquisition cannot be overstated. It sparked the Diaspora – Jews went all over the world. The positive impact being the spread of language, commerce and education. Coincidentally this time came at the conclusion of the Dark Ages in Europe. Jews contributed economically to a new era of European prosperity. 

Jews were also the first settlers to the new world as they crewed the ships lead by Christopher Columbus. They settled in Spanish and Portuguese Latin America; however that was short lived. Once the Inquisition spread to the new world, a large population of Jews from Brazil left for New York where they supported the American Revolution. The first American Jews were Sephardic refugees. 

It was a promise by the Founding Fathers to these Jews that freedom of religion would be protected rights in the United States of America because of their plight and contribution to the liberty of this Nation. Truly, America is Judeo-Christian Nation.

As for the Sephardic Jews of the East, the reality was of good relations and friendship between Muslims and Jews up until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.  However the Ottomons hands aren’t exactly clean, it’s just that they were friends to Jews. To Christians they committed unspeakable atrocities all the way up until WW1 concluding with the Christian/Armenian genocide.

That’s the historical summary. With a single huge asterisk. The Muslims and Christians spread war, forced conversions, persecution, expulsion and murder. The Jewish people were innocent of these atrocities. They ran, hid, changed faith and ultimately always came home.

You don’t have to be a Zionist to accept the historical truth. Rendered with facts it is only logical what is just.

Israel is the only nation/home to Jewish people and has been for thousands of years. Muslims are a majority populace in 50 other nations.  It is time to make peace with the Jewish States right to exist. Muslims can cohabitate Israel but not if they harbor violence. It’s time to let that go and move forward.

As for the lost family of Jews from the Diaspora – scholars agree that as many as 200M people exist with significant ties to Jewish Ancestry. Many of these people reside in Latin America. I expect as this truth reveals itself that these nations and their populations will rise to be some of Israels greatest supporters. 

What is going to be harder to rectify is how intertwined Muslim communities are. Jews were their ancestors, neighbors and friends. The Jewish people through the generations endured Expulsion, Inquisition, Conversion and a Holocaust which almost left them exterminated. Jews deserve their homeland.

What we are confusing is that Muslims and Christians also come from Judaism and their claim to the Holy land must also be honored. Yet, the only way to do that is to honor them as Jewish Ancestors and as extended family. For sake of peace there can never be a Christian or Muslim state in control of Jerusalem aside from a Palestinian state which does have a right to existence, security and prosperity barring it resolves to do no violence.

If we are honest – this weekends war only happened on the eve of a landmark peace agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Obviously an allied pairing of these two nations threatens an opposing dynamic with Russia and Iran – hence the blood shed.

Peace should never be allowed to be held hostage neither by the manipulation of perception nor the instigation or threat of violence. 

I offer compassion for the plight of the innocent on both sides of this war who deserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. A privilege we in America enjoy with little regard for its fragility.

I am sad for the Muslims because I know the persecution they faced driven by the American war machine over the last two decades has brought ruin to many of their nations. There’s no place for war. Neither instigated by Christians, Muslims, Western Nations or from Israel itself. 

The West has failed in our moral duty to practice what we expect of others. That needs to change. America more than anyone needs to change and find the courage to lead once again.

The world is a divided place. I am encouraged that by recalling historical truth we can embrace the greater truth of being one family. 

Moreover, if we are to come through these times – the inevitable certain path forward is unity, compromise and understanding people for whom we may not necessarily agree with.

To me – these principles reconcile what I know of the teachings of Jesus and how he lived. The idea of Christianity is to emulate, love and live the way he lived.

The Jewish people will need Christians more than they know. Christians are in the best position to act as intermediary for peace. Yet it can only come through repentance and leading by example the true way of forgiveness in Christ. If that happens the Muslims who share the same history of bloodshed may also find themselves in reflection and repentance. 

For Torah scripture – there is one story which to me is prophecy for the coming of this new age. In Genesis there is a favored son of his father named Joseph. The adoration of his father provoked his brothers to jealousy. One day they betrayed him and sold him into slavery in Egypt.

By Gods plan, Joseph rose up from slavery and imprisonment to counsel Pharaoh who he helped to anticipate a dire famine over the region. Pharaoh responded by making Joseph the Governor of Egypt and tasked him with preparing for the Famine.

When the Famine came many peoples fled to Egypt for refuge. One such tribe was Josephs family. Faced with revenge or forgiveness – Joseph tested their hearts for remorse and decided it was time to forgive. That family was made whole and granted Pharaohs blessing to reside in Egypt. Ultimately this set the stage for the story of the Jewish Exodus back to Israel lead by Moses.

What this story helps foretell is that soon Gods family will heal. That maybe a remnant of us being sold into Egypt is for a reason for such a time as this. When God saves his people – I am speaking of Muslims, Christians and Jews; that he also saves the Egyptians which for intents of this story is the whole world. The cultures of the East too. Hindus have had their history of war, particularly with the Muslims. They can find peace too.

Maybe we are facing a great shaking of our faith and a dawn of great peace is upon us. We must choose: An endless and irrational Holy War with a toll that might be mutually all consuming. Or we can remember each other as family.

Either way this is an opportunity to get closer to the truth. We shouldn’t let the causalities of the last few days and of countless generations die in vain when the dialogue for healing is so clear and we have the ability to start.

The Indian people at the hands of the British Empire had as just a cause for war as any people. However, Gandhi found another way through peace. If we want to avoid another world war – this is the only way. Let history be our guide. Let peace be our way. It is time to heal once and for all.

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