By Law Mefor
Opinion: The first time I visited Israel was in 1994 on a Christian pilgrimage. It served as a spiritual homecoming for my visiting group. To prove that the Bible is authentic and alive today, rather than just being historical or speculative, we visited the sites of worship listed in it. Our faith was strengthened by the amazing event.
An obvious sore thumb was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Different historical places were hosted by the Israeli government and Palestine. Judea, for instance, the region where John the Baptist was born, was administered by Palestine. The Palestinians also controlled Bethlehem, the location of Jesus’ birth.
We had to walk past the Israeli troops stationed on the opposite side of the road to enter Bethlehem’s beautiful church. On the opposite side of the street, there was a combat formation of Palestinian soldiers. Separated by roughly 10 feet and fully armed, both platoons kept an eye on one another battle-ready.
Innocent pilgrims would be trapped in the middle of a cataclysmic confrontation that could break out at any time as a result of any provocation. In similar crossfires in the past, many innocent people have died. Just like the most recent invasion by Hamas into Israel claimed 1400 people, the majority of them little children, elderly people, and women.
The question is: how did the Israeli-Palestinian come to this sorry impasse? Here is why. Israel is such an interesting nation historically. The Old Testament is rife with accounts of their battles with their neighbours to hold onto The Promised Land, the land of milk and honey, which they claim Yahweh granted their ancestors.
While Jews, Palestinians, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and all of humanity are all creations of the same Supreme God, the creator of all things, Israel and Palestine continue to act as though they worship separate Gods. Since Israel’s liberation from Egyptian slavery, they and their neighbours have been engaged in a fight over territory.
The first temple was destroyed in the sixth century BC, and the second temple was destroyed in 70 AD, resulting in two exiles for the people. Two thousand years of wandering have already passed for them. In-depth Russia, Yemen, Morocco, Spain, Germany, and Poland were among the places where the Jews found themselves. But despite their dispersed groups, the tale claims that they always managed to maintain blood ties. They never let their individuality slip. Yet, even throughout their exile, some of them remained and coexisted with their Palestinian neighbours.
When Israel was reestablished in 1947, Jews from all over the world were able to move back home. One can observe that Jews outside the state of Israel are significantly more numerous than Jews who reside in Israel when compared to the number of Jews in the US alone.
A critical mistake was made when the State of Israel was recreated without making a full attempt to recreate the State of Palestine as well. The Palestinians lost their state as a result. This suggests that both Israel and Palestine have a right to the territory in question contrary to what Israel, Palestine, or anybody may think.
The Bible tells us of a man named Goliath who was killed during a bloody conflict between the Israelites and the Palestinians. The story of Samson and Delilah, who repeatedly warned him that the Palestinians were approaching, is another example of the two nations that have lived together from time immemorial. Delilah betrayed Samson to the same Palestinians after she had destroyed his mystical power. Today, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict still exists.
The key point is that, despite their conflict, both peoples have coexisted there even before the birth of Christ. Therefore, it is historically incorrect for the UN, then known as the League of Nations, to rebuild the state of Israel in a way that gave the impression that the Jews owned the entire region. The international organisation cannot pretend that millions of Palestinians would roam the planet without resistance.
Without making an effort to defend anything, it is important to note that the UN’s half-hearted actions helped to partially create the terrorist organisations vying for territories, like Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, and others. If the world is to experience peace and ultimately avert a third world war as predicted by Nostradamus, which the Israeli-Arab conflict has the greatest potential of causing, this mistake has to be acknowledged and corrected.
Previous attempts in this direction have been overly politicised and religion-driven. Both sides have also been irreconcilable. Many Arab countries have proclaimed that Israel and the Jews will perish. The majority of Christian Western nations, especially the USA, are prepared to support the Jews. Additionally, Israel has refused to recognise Palestine as a sovereign state, treating it as such and exerting authority over it. As a result of these two divisions, the globe has become divided and is perilous for mankind.
For instance, Israel essentially occupies Gaza. The West Bank is subject to the same occupation rules. Following the announcement of an independent Israel, five Arab nations—Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon—immediately invaded the region in what became known as the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Other wars between them soon followed and Israel won and took up more territories as booty. For example, Palestinian territory – encompassing the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem – has been illegally occupied by Israel since 1967, which is the main reason for Hamas’s belligerence.
I remember that on our trip to Israel, we visited an area named Golan Heights. It is named after the mountain that watches above Syria, another vowed adversary of Israel. Israel’s military satellites are up there, where they keep an eye on Syria for any adversarial acts.
Israel experiences perpetual anxiety and lives like an endangered species. It’s a tiny piece of land. They have a far smaller population than even Palestinians do. Most of us, as pilgrims, were aware of the obvious risk and wanted to return to Nigeria in safety. But the Jews are stuck in this situation forever. The world ought to be able to put an end to it by forcefully reconciling these warring nations.
The Two-State solution, which calls for an independent Israel and an independent Palestine, has to be revisited, and if the UN is to live up to its name and stop being a paper tiger with plastic teeth, it needs to be put into effect. Both of the two nations require peace. The globe requires peace as well.
Acting impartially and putting an end to the biases towards either Islam or Christianity—both of which are, incidentally, Abrahamic religions—is the right course of action. These fascinating facts regarding Israel and Palestine are for anyone choosing a side for religious reasons, especially the zealots. You can conduct a fact-check to see that there are more Christians in Palestine than in Israel. There are more Israelis who are Muslims than those who are Christians.
Palestine has a population of 12 million people, of which 7 percent (or roughly 840,000) are Christians. Israel, on the other hand, has a population of 8.5 million. Only 2% (or around 171,000) of Israelis identify as Christians, compared to 17.5 % (or roughly 1.5 million) of Israelis who identify as Muslims.
Also to be noted: Arabic is the primary language of the 840,000 Palestinian Christians. Most of them can’t comprehend or speak English. The Arabic version of their Holy Bible is also their only Holy Book.
Allah is the name of God in the Arabic Bible. In Arabic, God is referred to in this way just as Ndigbo refer to God as “Chukwu or Chineke.” The phrase “Allah Akbar” is often used by Palestinian Christians in place of the phrase “God is great.” And when Palestine Christians wish to express their praise for God, they say “Alhamdulilahi,” just like Muslims do.
Warmongers continue to promote division and incite fear among us even though this is not a religious conflict. Islam is not Arabic, and Arabic is not Islam. A language is one thing, while a religion is another. Additionally, there are Jews who practice Islam and Christians who are Palestinians.
As Muslims were killed in Israel during Hamas’ foolish attack on Israel, which has once again opened this Pandora’s box, Christians are now being killed in Gaza in the Israeli retaliatory counterattack.
In the words of John Donne, “Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee”. Let us all work towards achieving world peace. It doesn’t matter who is slain, whether they are Jews, Palestinians, Arabs, Christians, Muslims, or someone else. The human family collectively suffers loss and degradation with each killing.
Let’s strive for a Two-State solution to put an end to the Israel/Arab/Palestine conflict before it ends humanity. United Nations Resolution 181, passed by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1947 called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, with the city of Jerusalem as a corpus separatum (Latin: “separate entity”) to be governed by a special international regime. The world has to insist on giving effect to that resolution now to end the perennial Israeli-Palestine/Arab wars.
· Dr. Law Mefor, an Abuja-based forensic and social psychologist, is a fellow of The Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts; email@example.com; Twitter: @Drlawsonmefor.