One would think that by now we would be accustomed to the fighting in the Middle East and especially in Israel/Palestine. But we are not! Yearly and daily the conflicts there seem to haunt us and the people of the Holy Land.
In recent weeks, Hamas started firing deadly rockets into Israel, and Israel responded with air attacks and now ground troops in the Gaza Strip to destroy the rocket launchers and underground tunnels that allow Hamas to respond to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s destructive policies in his dealings with the Palestinian people.
It is no secret that Netanyahu has done everything in his power to discredit Hamas which he, his administration and U.S. President Obama and the American Congress consider a terrorist organization. There are others in the world and in the Palestinian Authority who consider Hamas as freedom fighters who are trying to find some dignity and human rights for their people.
So then, why are Hamas, Fatah and the Palestinian people so opposed to Israel and especially Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s policies in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip? Let’s examine some of the facts on the ground and try to determine why there are constant conflicts in that part of the world:
1. Netanyahu is opposed to a two-state solution within the borders of Israel. The Palestinian Arabs have been under Israeli occupation since the creation of Israel in 1948 and especially the Six Day War in 1967.
2. In order to “protect” Israeli Jews, Netanyahu built security walls all over Israel to separate Jews from Arabs. As a result, Palestinians cannot travel to visit relatives and friends in other parts of the country, nor can they worship at their religious sites, especially in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron.
3. Israel built special roads and highways that are reserved for Jews only. Palestinian Arabs must have special license plates on their cars to identify them as Arabs and to keep them away from Jewish Roads.
4. Netanyahu allowed settlements for Jews only to be built in East Jerusalem and the West Bank which are considered to be Palestinian territories. At these settlements, which are heavily guarded, there are large swimming pools and sport courts for those living there, while at the same time the Israeli government often cuts back on water and electricity within Arab villages.
5. There are approximately 5,000 Palestinians in Israeli prison camps, most of whom have never been officially charged with crimes other than being Palestinians. And in the present conflict in Gaza, at this writing, over 1,880 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops while more than 60 Israelis have been killed in this conflict.
6. There are political leaders in Israel and Palestine who support a two-state solution for the Holy Land, as well as over 100 nations in the world, including the United States and the United Nations. The prime minister of Israel has turned a deaf ear to their pleas.
So now what do we make of the present conflict between Israel and Gaza? Do we allow the unfortunate deaths of the Israeli teens murdered recently, allegedly by Hamas, as well as the Palestinian teen kidnapped and then set afire while still alive, allegedly by Jewish settlers, the Palestinian-American boy beaten by Israeli police in Jerusalem, and then the Palestinian teens playing soccer on the Gaza beach killed by Israeli Naval forces from the sea go unnoticed and without understanding why the conflict in that part of the world continues? How much more sadness are these two people, both children of Abraham, to endure?
I am of the opinion that there will never be peace in the Holy Land and in Islamic countries in the Middle East and elsewhere until Jews and Arabs alike learn to live in peace in a two-state solution and have equal and human rights. Both are a proud people and deserve more in their lives.
The Rev. George S. Corey, of Charleston, is a retired Orthodox Christian priest who has traveled five times to the Holy Land.