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Would the end of violence in Palestine mean the end of Israel as we know it?

By S Ross Jones - posted Friday, 17 October 2003


Hear this, you rulers of the house of Jacob and chiefs of the house of Israel, who abhor justice and pervert all equity, who build Zion with blood and Jerusalem with wrong! ...Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins ... (Micah 3: 9 & 12)

Not many people today would be as blunt and undiplomatic as Micah but his sentiments would find an audience. The growing consensus among intellectuals in Israel today is twofold: (1) The war is essentially over and Israel has won. The infrastructure of Israeli settlements and by-pass roads in the West Bank is just too extensive to be reversed. There will be no two-state solution for the Israeli/Palestinian problem. That is why Prime Minister Sharon can so quickly reject the Peace Proposal presented over the weekend. (2) Israel as we now know it may soon cease to exist, collapsing inward from the corruption and inhumane tactics used to win the war. This was powerfully articulated by Avraham Burg (Speaker of the Knesset until January 2003) in a recent article in the International Herald Tribune.

So where does the Mid-East go from here? PM Sharon's strategy seems to be to get rid of Arafat so Israel can establish its own government of some sort. The Palestinians will not accept it and resistance will continue. The Peace camp is beginning to push for a one-state solution as the answer but Israel will never agree to that voluntarily. That would mean making citizens of Palestinians who would one day outnumber the Jewish citizens.

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Yet it should not be an option to keep the Palestinians caged behind a Separation Wall and deprived of economic resources, medical treatment, education, and the right to travel even within the West Bank. That is the current situation but surely it cannot continue past the end of the war when security is no longer the pretext. Indeed, the Israeli economy has already been devastated by the Occupation and Israel would already be bankrupt if the USA were not paying the bills. How long will the USA continue to do so?

The unhappy prospect is that there is no good answer now. The rejection of a political track with a two-state solution in favor of the military track may eventually mean the collapse of Israel. Until then the Christian world can only reach out in small ways to individual people who all need help so badly. That is not an answer but what else can we do?

The only other thing is to be certain the rest of the world learns from the mess here: raw power does not solve the problems. May God give our world the grace to learn in a way that Israel did/has not. And may God fulfill the hope that Micah believed was the future:

He shall judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. (Micah 4: 3 - 4)

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This article was first published in Dean Ross Jones's e-newsletter, Update, on 13 October 2003.



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About the Author

The Very Reverend S Ross Jones is Dean of St. George's College Jerusalem.

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