Two States Will End 83 Years Of Warfare – OpEd


The most right wing nationalist ministers in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government rejected Palestinian statehood following a Washington Post report that Israel’s main ally the United States was advancing plans to establish a Palestinian state. “We will in no way agree to this plan, which says Palestinians deserve a prize for the terrible massacre they carried out against us” Finance Minister Smotrich said.

However, a mid February national poll by Channel 12 news indicated that the current opposition, along with Benny Gantz’s National Unity party (previously in the opposition but now a member of the emergency government), could secure 75 of the Knesset’s 120 seats if elections were held today, with the bloc loyal to Prime Minister Netanyahu far behind at 45.

The Qur’an refers to Prophet Abraham as a community or a nation: “Abraham was a nation-community [Ummah]; dutiful to God, a monotheist [hanif], not one of the polytheists.” (16:120) If Prophet Abraham is an Ummah then fighting between the descendants of Prophets Ishmael and Isaac is a civil war and should always be avoided. “Lo yisa goy el goy kherev velo yilmedu od milkhama” “Nation shall not lift sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4)

If all Arabs and Jews can live up to the ideal that ‘the descendants of Abraham’s sons should never make war against each other’ is the will of God; we will help fulfill the 2700 year old vision of Prophet Isaiah: “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt, and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. 

“On that day Israel  will join a three-party alliance with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing upon the heart. The LORD of Hosts will bless them saying, “Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance.”…(Isaiah 19:23-5)

The Nakba (catastrophe), the displacement of Palestinians during the 1948 establishment of the State of Israel and the War of Independence, could have been avoided if the Palestinian leadership had accepted the UN two state solution as the Zionists did. Indeed, if the Palestinian leadership had accepted the British 1937 two state solution as the Zionists did; millions of Jews would have been able to escape the Holocaust (catastrophe).

On October 27, 1978, only five years after Egypt started the Yom Kippur War with a surprise  attack on Israel, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin were named winners of the Nobel Peace Prize for their progress toward achieving a Middle East accord; and only one year later came a Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel that has lasted to this day. 

Could the same process follow the defeat of Hamas in the Hamas-Israel War and the defeat of Israel’s far right ultra-Orthodox coalition government in the next election.? 

I think the same process that followed the Yom Kippur War, could now follow the defeat of Hamas and the defeat of Israel’s far right coalition government.

Although it might seem impossible now, I do believe that within a decade or two Muslims will visit Jerusalem and pray together with Jews as Prophet Isaiah states: “And the foreigners who join themselves to the (monotheistic one) Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast to my covenant, these I will bring to my holy mountain (Zion), and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Isaiah 56:6-7) 

And then “Lo yisa goy el goy kherev velo yilmedu od milkhama” “Nation shall not lift sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4)

In response to the pain and suffering of the past 83 years most Israelis and Palestinians long to be at peace. With Prophet Abraham as our model, we must each strive to be bestowers of divine blessings and kindness to others. While we cannot ignore the pain, deep darkness and fear, we will be overwhelmed if we only look at the threat of Armageddon. 

We need to balance our pain by looking for the charity, kindness and beauty in our world. Whether through prayer and good deeds, or through family and community, or wherever you find kindness, remember; even a world on fire cannot put out God’s light.

As Dr. Mohamed Chtatou, a Professor at a university in Rabat, Morocco says: “After the current (Hamas-Israel) war, Israel’s ultra-nationalist coalition will undoubtedly be undermined by public opinion, and probably by a commission of inquiry. If the Palestinian Authority were to agree to take over Gaza – backed by the international reconstruction aid that would inevitably arrive – and if a centrist coalition government were to emerge in Israel, everything would once again be possible. Two difficult “ifs”? Perhaps, but there is no serious alternative.”

For 83 years political nationalist leaders in Israel and Palestine have failed to find a way to end the conflict between their two peoples. Perhaps it is time for religious leaders who understand the religious importance of repentance, humility, forgiveness, compromise and hope for peace in overcoming more than eight decades of pain and anger. 

As the Qur’an states: “Perhaps Allah will put, between you and those to whom you have been enemies among them, affection. And Allah is competent, and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”  (60:7) Then the words of the Qur’an will be for-filled “From the depths of Darkness into the Light; for Allah is very kind and merciful to you.” (Qur’an 57:9)

And we all will benefit from “Righteousness is not in turning your faces towards the east or the west. Rather, the righteous are those who believe in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Books, and the prophets; who give charity out of their cherished wealth to relatives, orphans, the poor, ˹needy˺ travelers, beggars, and for freeing captives; who establish prayer, pay alms-tax, and keep the pledges they make; and who are patient in times of suffering, adversity, and in ˹the heat of˺ battle. It is they who are true ˹in faith˺, and it is they who are mindful ˹of Allah˺” (Qur’an 2:177)

Prophet Muhammad said: “Should I not tell you what is better in degree than prayer, fasting, and charity.” They (the companions) said: “Yes.” He said: “Reconciling people, because grudges and disputes are a razor (that shaves off faith).” (Ahmad, Abu Dawood, and At-Tirmithi)

This is an excellent guide to dealing with the three-generation old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rather than focusing mostly on what the other side did to us, all of us should focus on how the conflict has hurt all of us, and how much better our future would be if we could live next to each other in peace. 

If the descendants of Prophet Isaac and Prophet Ishmael negotiate a settlement that reflects the religious policy that “…there is no sin upon them if they make terms of settlement between them – and settlement [reconciliation and peace] is best.” (Quran 4:128)  

I say we need to focus on people first and land second. “From the river to the sea Palestinians and Israelis should be free of hatred and suffering’ with ‘a two state for two peoples sharing the land peacefully.’ 

The goal of both Israelis and Palestinians should be the realizing of a shortened and adapted poem by the Hebrew poet Shaul Tchernichovsky: (1875–1943)

Laugh, laugh at all my dreams!
What I dream shall yet come true!
Laugh at my belief in mankind
And my belief in you.

For my soul is not yet sold
To the golden calf of scorn
And I still believe in mankind
And the spirit in them born.

And in our future I still believe
Though it be distant, come it will
When our nations shall bless each other,
And peace our homelands fill.”

Though the time be dark with hatred,
I believe in years beyond
Love at last shall bind two peoples
In an everlasting bond.

Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Allen Maller retired in 2006 after 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, Calif. He is the author of an introduction to Jewish mysticism. God. Sex and Kabbalah and editor of the Tikun series of High Holy Day prayerbooks.

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