As the relentless cycle of violence in Israel and the occupied
continues, and positions on either side become ever more entrenched
bitter, the necessity of a radical approach to ending the destruction
hope becomes ever more apparent.
The violence and oppression in the region are corrupting the people of Israel and Palestine, destroying their communities and breaking their claimed links with God. Restoration of both communities to the path of peace and brotherhood requires sacrifices, but of a different nature than those currently envisaged by the death and destruction being visited on both communities by each other.
For the Palestinians this means choosing the path of suffering through non-violent resistance, and rejecting the wasteful and useless suffering of violence and death. Yasser Arafat and other leaders in Palestine need to channel the obvious bravery of those willing to give their lives for the cause of Palestinian liberation into the more powerful path of non-violent resistance to oppression. In doing this, the Palestinians will help not just themselves, but also those Israelis who are crying out to live their lives in peace with their Palestinian neighbors. This is obviously a difficult option to take, or even to persuade others to adopt. However, a strategic and sustained non-violent resistance campaign would undoubtedly get the support of world opinion and put into even starker relief the relentless oppression of the Israeli state apparatus.
Israelis also need to participate in this peace initiative by returning to their religious roots and casting off the oppressive control of the state. Indeed, being the dominant physical power in the region, more should be expected of them. Israel may be strong militarily, but it is spiritually weak. For many, particularly in the political class, the Torah is no longer the guiding principle of their lives, while the protection of the Jew has now been assigned to the state rather than to God. This is perhaps understandable given the horrific events of the Nazi era and the struggles of the Jews in Europe well before then, highlighted by centuries of progroms and slaughter of God's chosen people. For many Jews, these events perhaps reflect a God that has failed. Consequently, allegiance, consciously or otherwise, has been transferred to a military industrial complex that will provide material protection for Jews, if not spiritual succor.
However, if recent history is anything to go by, the state of Israel has singularly failed to protect Jews from attack and death, evidenced by the regular Palestinian suicide bombings, the escalating death rate of Israel Defense Force personnel, and the recent murder of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi.
For those Jews that still look to God as their sovereign protector, this failure is perhaps not a surprise, because for Torah Jewry, real safety is only found in God. In contrast, the requirement to physically do violent battle every day against perceived enemies in order to protect the existence of a material government infrastructure is a rejection of God as the only legitimate power. State sponsorship of "hit squads" aimed at liquidating Islamic "terrorists" or those suspected of atrocities is surely not the action of men who recognize their own Godliness, and that of their fellow man. Israel's "democracy" lauded by so many media and political commentators surely is as nothing when compared with the irreligious act of placing young men and women in a position where they have to shoot and kill demonstrators and children in order to protect a material and transient state power. These actions are nothing but blasphemies against the One God, the God of Israel.
As the British Chief Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Sachs himself points out in his excellent work "The Practical Implications of Infinity": "Depression, anxiety, melancholy, self-absorption and self-pity -- these are both symptoms and causes of a loss of religious vision." Although the Chief Rabbi would certainly not agree, when one looks at the actions of the state of Israel today, is not this judgement being fulfilled?
In order for true peace to take root both sides need to cast off the oppressive attraction of state power and focus instead on saving their local communities from destruction by re-establishing their relationship with God. Israelis and Palestinians both claim the allegiance of God in their struggle, but the driving force behind both groups looks more like a love of the state rather than love of the One, True, God. Until Israelis and Palestinians recognize this, and act to release themselves from the relentless torment of state-sponsored war and destruction, peace will not come to the Holy Land.
Richard Morrissey is a financial publisher/columnist and student of contemplative religion. He lives in London, England, and is married with five children.
March 11, 2002
|Richard Morrissey is a financial publisher/columnist and student of contemplative religion. He lives in London, England, and is married with five children.|
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