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The Palestine-Israel question has been with us for decades now, it's part of the scenery. Can you imagine watching TV or opening your morning paper and not find news about it? Unthinkable!
It's like that picture of a bomb that keeps exploding and re-exploding endlessly...
Friends of mine have asked me repeatedly to blog about it, and so far I've always resisted. I just didn't think I could add anything useful to the debate. Or suggest a solution. Whatever solution is suggested, there's always somebody ready to shoot it down.
Just look at what happened to President Obama when he recently tried to suggest that peace negotiations could resume using as a starting point the 1967 Israel-Palestine border lines. Perish the thought! Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu who was then on a visit to the US blew up and manifested his discontent in a speech to the American Congress where he was met with a standing ovation.
Still, the EU is pushing a peace plan based on Obama's suggestion. And the Palestinians have more or less papered over their differences: Fatah and Hamas are close to some sort of agreement much to Israel's dismay (it cannot accept Hamas at the negotiating table). In any case, coming next September, the Palestinian Authority will ask the UN to recognize Palestine as a state (for the moment it's just an "Authority" with an observer status, like for example, the Holy See). That would give the Palestinians a much stronger card to play at the negotiating table.
So time is running out on Israel. Will they react positively to the challenge? I don't know, Netanyahu and even more than him, his Foreign Affairs minister, have a tendency to adopt extremist, uncompromising positions. The political opposition in Israel is more open to the idea of negotiation (for more on this, click here), and I have a feeling that a lot of people in Israel would welcome a compromise solution, provided it brought peace.
Meanwhile, around the Mediterranean, protesters of all kinds, including an 86 year-old woman daughter of Holocaust victims, are gathering together a flotilla to try and break the blockade Israel imposed on Gaza two and half years ago. Said blockade, as you will recall, being in retaliation/defense against the attacks of Gaza's Hamas government in Israel territory - all because Hamas steadfastly refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist.
Result on the ground? All I can say is that it's a sorry mess. Israel continues to live in fear of attacks and dreadful attacks do occur, with deaths that every time remind us that this is a tragedy that hits innocent civilians. The Gaza population that had voted in Hamas has paid dearly the exercise of its right for a democratic choice. Because of Hamas' extremism and use of terrorism, the Gaza population has also suffered attacks from Israel, and an economic blockade that has caused untold pain at an individual level. The situation has recently somewhat improved, with Israel agreeing to let some goods in and Egypt partly re-opening its borders (one of the immediate effects of the Arab Spring). But a return to normalcy, if it ever happens, is far off in the future. Unemployment is still at a whopping 46 percent level.
Jerusalem Image by Wilson Afonso via Flickr
The end to the spiral of violence is nowhere in sight, and possibly the worst of it is reserved for Jerusalem: the holy city for all three religions, the Muslims, Jews and Christians. Take a look at the sample of articles I brought together for you (see below). The words are harsh, the hate is palpable, everybody wants Jerusalem, the city of God, for themselves. And not for the others.
The Wailing Wall Image by Giara via Flickr
The wailing wall is mine!
They all cry the same cry, irrespective of religion. And American born-again Christians are among the most vehement - sometimes even more than the Israeli themselves.
You know something? I wonder how God feels about this, He who is sitting up there in the sky and is watching this absurd drama unfold on the good earth He has created. Here are his creatures all trying to get hold of His temple, of His holy city, stepping on each other, screaming, killing for it.
Is He angry? Is He disgusted? Is He ready to forgive us?
Personally, I don't think He is ready to forgive us if we don't do something to deserve his forgiveness. Like holding out a loving hand...
How do you think God feels about this?