THE ALTERNATIVE With Reno Omokri
Ihave read many views on the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and sadly, one fact is clear, most of us outside Israel are taking sides emotionally, rather than rationally. And as a result, we are becoming part of the problem, rather than the solution.
Notice that I say emotionally, as opposed to spiritually. I am not opposed to anyone deciding because he or she feels led by the Spirit of God. But make sure you are being led, not being deluded.
What is happening in Israel and Palestine, is complicated. And unless you understand the intricacies involved, your views and utterances, especially if you happen to have some influence, will complicate matters.
First of all, those of us outside Israel and Palestine should not make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a religious war. I have been to both Israel and Palestine. This is not a religious war. It is a territorial war. Both peoples have growing populations, but limited territory. That is the bottom line.
There are Israeli Arabs and Christians, and Palestinian Christians and Druzes. Not everyone in Israel is a Jew or a Christian. Not everyone in Palestine is a Muslim.
In fact, 17.8% of the population of the state of Israel is Muslim. Yes. You heard me right.
It may shock you to note that John Sununu, the former Governor of New Hampshire, and later White House Chief of Staff to the late President George H. W. Bush, is a Palestinian Christian.
Yet, the administration he served in is regarded as the most pro-Israel government the United States has ever produced, with the possible exception of President Donald Trump’s administration.
The George H. W. Bush presidency made it possible for the Ethiopian Jews, known as Beta Yisra’el, to return to Israel after thousands of years in the Horn of Africa.
Sirhan Sirhan, the man who shot and killed Robert F. Kennedy on June 5, 1968, is a Palestinian Christian, and he has since said that he killed Kennedy because of malice he had over the creation of the state of Israel.
So, to just think that this is a battle between Muslims and Christians means that you yourself are having a battle with ignorance. And ignorance is apparently having the upper hand!
There are 500,000 Palestinian Christians worldwide. Their native language is Arabic. Their Christianity is so unadulterated, that they still go by the name that the followers of Christ were called in the first century, Nasrani, which is just Arabic for the Sect of the Nazarene. Read Acts 24:5 and you will see how poignant that identification is.
There are also currently 14 Arabs in the Israeli Legislature (The Knesset). Arab Muslims are thriving in Israel and believe it or not, most of the traders you will find in the Christian pilgrimage sites that dot Israel and Palestine, are Muslims.
So, perhaps you may want to reconsider supporting one side or the other blindly, based on religion. You may just very well be a victim of propaganda. Now is the time for proper agenda, not propaganda.
So, instead of blind partisanship, why not just support peace, by calling for a ceasefire. Israel deserves to exist. Palestine also deserves to exist. How they can both co-exist, should be the focus of the world. Not who is right or who is wrong.
My barber in California is a Palestinian Muslim. He and I relate very well, principally because his wife is a great cook. The rest of the world needs to understand that the Palestinians do not feel marginalised because they are Muslims and the Israelis are most Jews.
Far from it. Their sense of injustice is based on the fact that they believe their ancestral lands were forcefully taken over by the Jewish state. And to deny that they have a right to feel as aggrieved as they do is only going to prolong the conflict beyond this generation and the next.
On the other hand, the Hebrew people and the Jews (not the same thing. Hebrew is an ethnicity. Judaism is a religion), feel that they have returned to their divine and ancestral heritage, that they were driven away from by first the Babylonians (also known as the Medes and Persians), then the Greeks, then the Roman Empire, and then by wave, after wave of successive invading foreign powers, of which the most recent were the Ottomans and the British.
To not sympathise with them for the historical wrong done to them, and their right to return to their divine and ancestral heritage is to be blinded by bias.
Scripture is very, very, very clear on this. The ancient Israelites owned, lived, and loved much of what is now known as Israel and Palestine. It may surprise my readers to note that the Goliath who fought David was a Palestinian. As were Delilah and the tormentors of Samson.
The word Palestine itself is not a Hebrew or Arabic word. It is a word that originated from the Romans, who called that area Palaistine (sometimes called Palestina). Roman Emperor Hadrian is believed to have deliberately given the area that name to spite the Israelites, who revolted against Roman rule in 132 AD.
And the word Palaistine is itself derived from the Greek word, Philistia, used to describe the residents of that area.
So, you can see that the trouble in that area has historically been ignited, and inflamed, by foreigners.
Now, there is another angle to the conflict. The international dimension.
Islamic nations outside Israel and Palestine are outraged by the fact that the Jewish nation controls the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, which is the third holiest site in Islam.
What is lesser known is that the state of Israel funds over a hundred mosques in Israel and pays salaries to their imams and other clergies.
Christian nations on the other hand do not want the holiest sites of Scripture, which are almost invariably all in Jerusalem, to fall under the control of Muslims.
What is not so well known is that when the Muslim Ottomans ruled Palestine and Jerusalem, they did not stop Christian pilgrims from coming to the Holy Land. Quite the opposite. There was a massive migration of Christians (especially Orthodox Christians) to the Holy Land, and churches flourished as a result.
The tension between both religions, as I earlier mentioned, has more to do with foreign powers.
Over the millennia, those tensions have resulted in several crusades (from the Christian point of view) and Jihads (from the Muslim perspective).
In all that time, the biggest losers then, as of now, were the native Hebrews and Palestinians populations, who have generationally been the grass that the two big elephants (Christianity and Islam) fight on.
Outsiders were the main problem and still are the main problem.
The only solution possible, other than the Second Coming of Christ, is the two-state solution, which guarantees the existence of an independent state of Israel, and an independent Palestinian nation.
Anything short of this is to live with perpetual war until Christ returns.
The Israeli government should covenant to provide Muslims future reasonable access to all the Islamic holy sites in their territory, and the Palestinians should affirm to do the same for Jewish and Christian holy sites.
Having said this, there is the need for the outside world to understand that Hamas is not the government of Palestine, although they control territory. Hamas is an organisation that uses terror to advance its political agenda. Hamas states in their charter that they are an organisation for only Muslims, meaning that Christian Palestinians have no place in Hamas. They do govern the Gaza Strip, which itself can be said to be a part of Palestine.
The government of Palestine is the Palestinian National Authority. They do not control Hamas. They have publicly declared that they are against terrorism and there is tension between them and Hamas.
Understanding the nuances and the delicate balance of power in Israel and Palestine is important because if you do not, you will see this current conflict as a straightforward war between the state of Israel and the Palestinians. Of which it is not. It is more a conflict between Israel and Hamas.
And even Hamas itself is not just Hamas. Hamas is believed to be armed and funded by Iran, in a proxy war against Israel, which Iran sees as the major stumbling block to its acquisition of nuclear power, and thus regional dominance. Both Hamas and Iran feel that Israel’s hand is seriously weakened with the ouster of Donald Trump.
And these conflicts will keep happening as long as Hamas, and the Syrian-backed Islamic Jihad do not recognise the right of the state of Israel to exist, without conditions.
That is the main issue. That is the bone of contention. And that is what is militating against the Two States Solution.
However, there is good news. Hamas is changing. Over the years, its leaders have made slight course corrections in their rhetoric and stand against Israel.
They were once against the Jewish people, but now have modified their stance to be against just Zionism.
So, given this history, what the outside world ought to do is seek the de-radicalisation of Hamas, and move them from the battleground to a common ground with Israel.
It will take time. It will take statesmanship. It will take the carrot and the stick. But, it is possible. And the possibility only becomes stronger when the world understands these nuances and acts accordingly.
It is not the duty of mere mortals like us to act as catalysts for the Messiah’s return or the Mahdi’s appearance. God is God, and He is in control. What He has planned will happen. We are as human beings do not need to help Him by blindly taking sides.
God is love. And as Scripture says, “The work of righteousness will be peace. And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.”-Isaiah 32:17.
When Muhammadu Buhari took office on May 29, 2015, Nigeria owed a total debt of N12 trillion, meaning each Nigerian owed N60,000. Today, we owe N34 trillion, meaning each citizen owes N170,000. Last week, Buhari asked the National Assembly for approval to borrow an additional N2.3 trillion. If that request is granted, our total debt will rise to N37 trillion, meaning each Nigerian will owe N185,000.
NBuhari will not repay that money. It is YOU and YOUR CHILDREN that will. My people and I are not just doing #HarassBuhariOutofParis because of you. We are also doing it for your children.