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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

ROUND AND ROUND


Frankly, as a young boy I found the childhood song and game “The Mulberry Bush” quite entertaining. It dealt with many of the major issues of my life at that time…how we do our chores, wash our clothes, wash our face, get dressed up, etc.

Now that I am an adult it is time to stop playing this game, yet World Leaders seem intent on sticking with it. We are dealing with incredibly complicated issues as if they were child’s play.

One of huge issues that is at the epicenter of world conflict is the Jewish settlement issue in what is described by the World Community as “disputed territory”. This is the area of Israel also referred to as the West Bank.

In a March 2013 speech delivered in Jerusalem, President Obama urged Israelis to “recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace.” I could not disagree more. This statement presumes that stopping settlements is the solution to lasting peace. Where is the evidence that keeping Jews from settling in their biblically Promised Land brings peace? After so many land concessions that Israel has already granted where is the promised peace?

The foregone conclusion of the majority of the United Nations leadership is that Israel must concede land for peace. The so-called “Two-State Solution” is bantered about as if it is the ONLY solution, yet this discredited approach ignores 65 years of well-documented history. Many land concessions have produced only temporary peace. The world community simply pretends that the prevailing view among Arabs and Persians of the Middle East does not exist. The simple fact is that until now the only acceptable Palestine is one where there is no Jewish State. While calling for a two-state solution, Islamists believe in a “One-State Solution”, a Palestine free of any Judeo/Christian presence.

Secretary of State John Kerry recently stated: “I can guarantee you that I am committed to this because I believe the window for a two-state solution is shutting, I think we have some period of time over the next year or two years or it’s over.” From his mouth to God’s ears. I hope he is right. This kind of “Divide the Land” approach will never work. There is simple no way for Israel to have secure borders with the plans now on the table.

The Times of Israel revealed that Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and his aide Yitzhak Molcho recently held a series of secret talks with senior Palestinian Liberation Organization official Yasser Abed Rabbo designed to restart peace talks.  These talks, like so many others failed, with the Palestinian negotiator demanding that Israel commit to negotiating on the basis of the pre-1967 lines and that Israel halt all settlement activity as a precondition for resuming peace talks. PM Netanyahu has rightly maintained that settlement construction is among the issues to be discussed at the negotiating table, not a as pre-condition to negotiations.  Several other final-status issues such as Jerusalem, Palestinian refugee “right-of-return”, borders and security must also be negotiated at the table, but heretofore, the Palestinian representatives steadfastly demand that these issues be pre-conditions to any negotiations. So here we go again…round and round.

It is time for “grown up” negotiations. No more trips round and round.

I have little hope “the powers that be” will change their approach, but I can always hope in God’s divine intervention.

So I pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

CUT THE BABY IN TWO


Today is “Jerusalem Day” according to the Jewish calendar . “Yom Yerushalayim”, also known as “Jerusalem Day”, commemorates Jerusalem's reunification in 1967. After Israel declared its independence in 1948, it was attacked by the neighboring Arab countries, resulting in the Arab-Israeli War. At the end of this war, the city of Jerusalem was divided with Israeli forces controlling much of the city, but East Jerusalem, including the “Old City” was controlled by Jordanian forces. The Old City is critically important for strategic and religious reasons. Many sites of significant religious importance are in this part of the city. These include: the Dome of the Rock, the al-Asqa Mosque, the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, the Upper Room and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to name a few. Jews were subsequently banned from praying at their most holy site, the Western Wall.

From 1948-1967 Israel was repeatedly attacked by its surrounding Arab neighbors and endured almost constant terrorist attacks within. Tensions continued to grow and by June 6, 1967 Israel had had enough and launched the 6-Day War. The next day, June 7th, Israeli forces captured the Old City of Jerusalem. This resulted in the reunification of Jerusalem as part of Israel. Ever since, the constant drumbeat from the Arab States, the United Nations and much of the Western World is that Israel must cede East Jerusalem to the Palestinians who want it as the capital of their own State.

The world wants to DIVIDE THE HOLY CITY AGAIN!

Nothing is more shocking than when a mother purposely harms her own child. In the biblical story in 1 Kings where two mothers claim the same child, King Solomon proposed a simple solution: “Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.” Only the one with questionable motives would want to bring disastrous harm by agreeing: “Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!” Not only a teachable moment for the people of God in that generation, this story sheds light on difficult decisions for this generation.

At this very moment there are those who propose to divide the Holy City in two. Jerusalem is a bustling metroplex that serves as a focal point for billions of religious people around the globe. It is the historic and contemporary capital of Israel, a tourist destination for millions of visitors and a place where over a million residents carry forth their daily lives. In other words, it is a city full of life.

Like a precious child of this planet, Jerusalem must be protected, nurtured and helped, but never divided. While it is complicated to gather such diversity and conflict into one united city, it actually does work. The Old City is a microcosm of the modern metro area of Greater Jerusalem. There, crammed into ancient walls, people from significantly different religious persuasions and cultures find a way to live, be civil, do business, raise families, laugh, play, work…they do life… together.

A house divided cannot stand, nor can a city. While blissful unity seems like an impossible dream, Jerusalem must remain united as one city forever. We cannot cut the baby in two.

So again we arrive to the only real hope of success, on this special day and every day that follows, pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

JUSTIFIABLE RESPONSE


President Obama is right in stating: "What I have said in the past and I continue to believe is that the Israelis justifiably have to guard against the transfer of advanced weaponry to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah. We coordinate closely with the Israelis recognizing they are very close to Syria, they are very close to Lebanon."

While I applaud the president's firm response in this situation, the word "close" is a massive understatement. Let me explain. You can actually see Damascus, the capital of Syria from the Golan Heights (in Israeli territory). Then there is Hezbollah, the avowed enemy of Israel who have repeatedly attacked Israel with countless rocket attacks from Lebanon is just over the northern mountains. In fact, from Jerusalem the distance to its surrounding nations' capitals is as follows: Amman, Jordan - 44 miles, Beirut, Lebanon - 146 miles and Damascus, Syria - 135 miles. These are capital-to-capital mileages! Israel cannot leave the possibility of chemical weapons falling into the hands of Hezbollah or any other terrorist groups.

Israel was not taking sides in a civil war in Syria by making airstrikes in Syria over the last two days. They simply had to respond to the possibility of Syrian rebels seizing control of the Syrian armory of weapons.  There is little doubt that some factions of the rebels would use them against the Jewish state. Russia is no friend of Israel, but at least while supporting the Syrian government, they to help constrain them from using their arsenal of chemical weapons against the State of Israel.

However, let me be clear, the more significant restraint for Syria is the fact that the Israeli Defense Forces are far superior to their borderline neighbors. Israel cannot trust any nation, the United States included, to protect it from the threats it faces.

Frankly, I hate killing. Even war as necessary as it may sometimes be is an evil scar upon all humanity. But in the world environment in which we live, where the hatred of anything Jewish is so prevalent, Israel must fight for its very existence. It must, it will.

Like most people around the world, I wish the conflicts of the Middle East would just go away, but that is a childish hope. These issues that literally threaten world peace will not simply disappear, we must all play a part.

So I pray and act. Peace can only come from changed hearts. Join the solution, act and pray for the peace of Jerusalem.