Saturday, May 28, 2011

Part 2: Who Owns the Land in Palestine-Israel?

As I explained in Part 1, there is no easy solution to this many-thousanded year old dilemma. Surely the folly and tragedy of inhumane history, especially, the last two hundred years of failed diplomacy, war, and genocidal hatred must caution us against quick or even slow solutions to very complex situations.

How does one even begin to deal with Israeli settlers or Palestinian HAMAS—both who claim the Ultimate Reality of the Universe is exclusively on their own side, that their opposing Gods call them to kill their enemies?

How does one get two diametrically opposed killing nationalities to reconcile?

What would we do if our enemies played soccer with the decapitated head of our son, as did Palestinians with an Israeli soldier’s head in 2004 in Gaza?”!

What would we do if we were caring doctors, but while we helped the women of our enemies, they dropped large shells on our house and killed four of our daughters as did an Israeli tank in 2008 (I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza’s Doctor on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity by Izzeldin Abuelaish)?

To be utterly honest, even given my faith, I don’t think I could handle such horrible actions. Only in a Godly love as displayed by some individuals like Jesus, when he forgave the very Roman soldiers who tortured and crucified him, can we hope.

At present, I find it difficult to deal with several people lying about me. I’ve prayed to forgive them, but these individuals’ actions have deeply harmed me and my family, and will have very bad results for years to come. I admit, though I am writing this article in hope it will be one tiny blossom for peace in the Middle East, I, myself, wouldn’t know how to handle what Israelis and Palestinians go through daily—the oppression, the lying, the stealing, the cruel actions, the killing…

Also, keep in mind, very ironically, that many Palestinians and Israelis are actually closer to each other than they are to their own ethnic/national groupings. Did anyone see the video of Palestinian Fatah members who had their kneecaps/legs shot off by their “brothers” of HAMAS when the latter attacked them in Gaza? They are being helped, strangely enough, in an Israeli hospital. And don’t forget the tragic story of the Palestinian gynecologist who helped treat Israeli women for infertility but lost his three of his daughters, killed by Israeli soldiers!

Or what about the Israelis who agree to meet in equality with Palestinians in reconciliation groups such as the grieving parents organization, Parents Circle—Families Forum, and Musalaha, who share more in common with their “enemies” than with the Israeli government of Netanyahu?

What about the Palestinian Elias Chacour (the author of Blood Brothers and We Belong to the Land) who has founded a school for hundreds of children? The school includes Muslims,Druze, Christians, and Jews all working together!

The solution of the unending crisis has been tried by at least eight methods. What about #6 Diplomacy? We have seen over the last 50 years, political diplomacy, even at its best, is usually little more than a smoke screen for furthering one’s own national agenda. While the Israelis claim to be seeking reconciliation with Palestinians, they continue to confiscate land from Palestinians, siphon off far more than their share of water, water needed much more by the Palestinian Arabs, abuse and demean the latter, etc.

And while Palestinians claim they want peace with Israel, they actually continue to stock arms, and tell their own people, teach in their schools, that they plan for the eventual extinction of Israel. Their diplomacy is for most Palestinians only a mask for their real intentions.

As for #7 Legal Claim, surely anyone who has dealt at all with the convoluted legal system in the United States, knows this method is by far the worst of the eight for the tragedy of the Middle East. Legality seldom if ever has to do with what is ethically good, loving, and kind.

If you think #3 Present Possession is the key, are you prepared to give up your car to the thief who stole it last week because he is now driving it? Present possession for the most part is only the frosting on the cake of #4 Military Might. The latter is, of course, the most popular and the most successful of land decisions. If in doubt ask the Indians why they don’t control California, or the Mexican Government. Or why the Saudis, one of the most oppressive governments in the world, is still in power after nearly a hundred years. It’s called survival of the fittest, meanest, cruelest…

But I presume if you have come to this site, which has the longwinded name, Infinite Ocean of Light and Love, you are not among the millions of humans who espouse stomping out your enemies and so do not want to hear a defense of that method. There are endless websites and books for those who do.

Does anyone think #5 Best Use is ethically sound? Strangely enough, many Israelis claim they get all of the land because they are better builders, farmers, scientists, etc. than Palestinians. But no doubt you know what infamous political group in the twentieth century actually espoused this doctrine before the Israelis. It’s very strange that Jewish people would dare touch this view let alone strongly support it.

Now we come to the three best methods, but they, too, are fraught with severe problems…

To be continued in Part #3

In the Light of God (The God who loves every single human who has ever been created and who loves the whole cosmos, and who is wooing all toward Goodness, Truth, Beauty, and Love in the final consummation.)

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Who Owns the Land? By What Right?

“According to Beinin and Hajjar, the Turkish census for 1878 listed 462,465 Turkish subjects in the Jerusalem, Nablus and Acre districts: 403,795 Muslims (including Druze), 43,659 Christians and 15,011 Jews. In addition, there were at least 10,000 Jews with foreign citizenship (recent immigrants to the country), and several thousand Muslim Arab nomads (Bedouin) who were not counted as Ottoman subjects.”

“By 1946, Jews had purchased 6 to 8 percent of the total land area...” *

How then has a Jewish state, Israel defined by the current Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, come to “own” most of this area and control all of the area?
How have Arabs such as Sari Nusseibeh, whose family has lived in the area since the 7th century, been left with no country? (Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life by Nusseibeh)

It’s long and complicated, convoluted, hate-filled, prejudiced, violent, genocidal, discriminatory, unjust, unmerciful, unloving, and ungodly. Most people know of the Jewish side, how many of the Arabs sided with the Nazis!, how some fanatic Arabs repeatedly rioted and killed innocent Jewish civilians…

Not as many know of the Arab side, but one can read a moving account in Eli Chacour’s short autobiography, Blood Brothers, which tells of how his father emphasized that they as Christian Arabs should help and love the Jewish people. But then the Jewish army kidnapped this loving man and a couple of his sons, blew up their church, and destroyed their town!

I’ve read thousands of pages about this area, the unending conflicts going back thousands of years, and lived and worked there the better part of one year. Then for many years taught the history and selected literature of the area to high school students.

How can this question “Who Owns the Land?” be resolved? How can contrary different religions get along? How can people learn to share?

My Cliff Notes version for those who hate long blogs: There are no easy answers. Skip to the poem for the best answer.

For Part #1 of the long answer:

In the last few thousand years this area, this land, has been ‘owned’ by the Phoenicians, Canaanites, Hebrews, Babylonians, Arabs, Turks, British, French, Jews, etc.

So who gets it now and upon what basis?

Here are eight possible views of land ownership:

#1 Historic Right

#2 Worldview/Religious Claim

#3 Present Possession

#4 Military Might (The most popular view with most people in most of history.)

#5 Best Use

#6 Diplomacy/Compromise

#7 Legal Claim

#8 Visitor Status (No one group, nationality, religion “owns” the land. Humans are merely visiting. We must share.)

Three Sons No Longer Fight

Disking the rock strewn
Objected earth near Bet Shean,
Underneath the Middle Eastern sky
Rows of mean earth riven by the blades,
We cut away our anger, hate, and pride,
Stopping to drink, not from the liquor of
Fanatic corruption but from the
Precious water welling up,
Our oasis of Jacob'd sharing,
In this Hanukah season
Of Christ's mass after

We three sons of Abraham,
Muslim, Jew, and Christian,
Fight the true battle
Not each other but
To be found worthy
In compassion
And purity--
The true
To God

Previously published in

“The major goals of MidEast Web are:
Popularizing Humanitarian Values
Building a Common Reality
Building a Human Network
Amplifying the Work of Others
Reaching Everyone
Building Friendships and Skills
Humanizing the "Enemy"
The Future Must be Better than the Past”

To be continued…

In the Light of God,
Daniel Wilcox

Friday, May 20, 2011

Don't Miss "We Refuse To Be Enemies"

This week, I have been filled with a deep sense that I need to be doing even more than my family and I are for Christ in meeting the needs of so many people and challenging the injustices, poverty, and other sins of the world.

I was praying about where I could get involved more when I came across World Vision's powerful article on peacemaking in Palestine/Israel. "We Refuse to be enemies" by the president of WV. Again, like his powerful writing in his book The Hole in Our Gospel, Richard Stearns grabs us with the call of Jesus to reach out to those mistreated--to go deeper than the nationalism, secular politics, and distorted religious zeal of this world.

Read and be changed:

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pure and Profane Speech

Notice how humans, mostly, seem given to extremes, especially when it comes to speech. I grew up in the corner of one extreme, a religious community in the Midwest. I couldn’t refer to my rear as a “butt,” had to say “my seat.” I was instructed not to say “golly” or “heck”—those are “minced oaths.”

Sounds a bit like in the late 19th century when a woman’s pregnancy couldn’t be mentioned in mixed company. Supposedly, people in polite conversation didn't even speak of the "legs" of a table.

The advantage to my fundamentalist upbringing is that it taught me the importance of words. I learned to take great care to moderate my speech as Scripture says, though I did find myself saying “Shoot” a lot when frustrated. I wonder what minced oath that refers to;-) And I became a literature and writing teacher—dealing endlessly with words both spoken and written.

And I suppose I don’t need to inform anyone who has been out in public, gone to work, watched a movie, surfed the Internet, listened to radio, especially paying radio, or seen and heard TV or served in the military, etc. that the other extreme from minced oath prohibition is to be overtly vulgar, obscene, and profane in one’s speech, especially when one is mad or in great spirits.

I used to drive a truck for a chrome company after college (before becoming an English teacher) and at that job I learned plenty of words that our Sunday School teacher never taught us.

The most popular word today heard almost incessantly is the one whose etymology is “to strike” or “to plough.” Notice how in so many situations people use this “ploughing” word for nearly everything from bad drivers to great food or nosy neighbors or non-functioning equipment. Sometimes it is even used to refer to its central meaning…

What’s the point? Why skewer daily conversation with vulgarities? I mean I can understand Mark Twain’s caustic comment that cuss words are important for certain situations. But what is the purpose of running every conversation through the sewer?

And don’t forget profanity. For uncertain reasons, many people speak of Jesus Christ much of the time, in any and all situations, sometimes even give him a middle initial, and say his name louder than the other words of their speech.

I wonder if these same individuals would be happy if people around them constantly, anytime they were angry, or when they were shocked, or when they had nothing else to say, kept using the personal first names of these same individuals’ sweethearts/wives as throwaway curse words?

But Jesus Christ is the love-heart of humankind, the one who chose loving sacrifice instead of violent rebellion against the ruthless invaders of his country.

Why do so many flip off his name, as if he were dung?

I must admit, I am baffled by this lust-affair that so many humans and the media have with vulgarity and profanity. Maybe my confusion comes because of my background at the other extreme.

Could we not agree, however, obscenity and profanity don’t fit in the pursuit of the good, the true, the beautiful, and the loving.

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Obscene, flippant, or vulgar talk is totally inappropriate. Instead, let there be thanksgiving. Ephesians 5:4

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox