|Ask Rabbi Lerner|
I live in a small town on the east coast of the United States, and I am not Jewish. Every day for the last several months, the news reports show more and more people dying in Israel and Palestine. This situation saddens and horrifies me. How many have to die in order for this to stop? Is it possible for peace to come from such hatred and fear? How can senseless slaughter bring any clarity? How can love survive and grow where it is crushed in the dust and blood every day? I no longer live in the place I considered my home. I have lived in many places through the years, and often long to return again to where the memories of my family and friends are so strong. God goes with me everywhere and will love me no matter what place I call home. I don't think He loves me because of where I live. I hope He loves me because I am His Child, and that He treasures me for who I am in the world, and for the person He tries to help me to become.
I appreciate the concern and caring you express so well. I would only hope that someday peace comes to the Middle East.
The causes for this terrible state of affairs are perhaps very confusing, but certain elements are clear from objective history.
After WWI, France and Britain created the modern Middle East, including Trans-Jordan for the Arab Muslims and the Palestine Mandate for Jews and others who wished to live with Jews. Then, a rival tribe from Saudi Arabia was set up as the Hashemite kingdom for what we know as Jordan, which has a huge Palestinian population still.
After WWII, the UN divided Palestine yet further in an effort to placate the Arab nations - who themselves were recent creations but rejected the plan and waged war on Israel which succeeded in defending herself.
Israel continued to try and live in peace with her neighbors, but time and again war was declared against her. Yet, uniquely, Israel is expected to give back land acquired in wars it was forced to fight in self-defense.
Arafat has been funded to keep the warfare going, and the funds have been siphoned off for personal gain by him and his cronies - often family members. The EU and others have stopped sending money to the Palestinians because they know that it isn't helping the Palestinian people.
The Arab countries are sending virtually nothing to build a realistic infrastructure for a modern democratic country - which they fear. All the other Arab muslim countries are not democracies, often monarchies led by a few families, imposing Islam as they interpret it, etc.
Christians in Israel are respected, but Christians in such places as Bethlehem have been fleeing the Palestinians, who have also gerrymandered the borders to create a "democratic" Muslim majority which then dictates the rules.
Now, today the Pentagon has admitted that they have heard a report that makes it abundantly clear that the Saudis have been paying and encouraging all of this, from Al Qaeda to the Palestinians, playing off one agains the other and the Arab "extremists" against the West in order to look like moderates.
This may well be a Christian-Islamic conflict not unlike the Middle Ages, with the Jews in between as they were in the 12-14th centuries, or an East-West confrontation of cultures in which Jews are part of the West which represents democracy, universal education, a role for women against the kind of culture in the Ayatollah's Iran, Taliban, etc.
Let's not be too loving to accept our own destruction and let's also look for every opportunity to offer peace and co-existence as has Israel - following the historical teachings of Judaism - to the Arab world.
And, while we are at it, let's find a new fuel to replace oil. :-)
Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner
Foundation for Family Education (FFFE)