God ordained or merely a fight for land?
Israel and Palestine, Islam, Judaism and Christianity...are all the conflicts God ordained as some believe? or is it just an excuse for gaining land?
Israel and Palestine
We all know the ever ongoing story of the Middle East. We hear, see or read something about this region almost everyday in the news. Israel occupies Gaza strip; Hamas attack Israeli settlements; suicide bomber attacks Tel Aviv; ...It never stops, despite all the efforts of many a US President under the code name - Camp David, despite the UN constantly 'condemning' either party's breach of international law, and despite countless deaths on both sides.
So who's to blame? Well, an enormously large percentage of Americans and generally 'westerners', specifically Christians, believe the Palestinians are to blame. There are a number of reasons for this belief. The primary reason is the extreme focus on this topic by many many American preachers and religious leaders. As a Christian, I was bewildered, rather shocked, when I heard respected Christian leaders preach that God hated the Arabs based on a passage from Genesis where God promises Abraham that it is through Isaac not Ishmael that He is going to build His nation. I wondered then, whatever happened to "none should perish" because God so loved the world"?
Other passages that are a constant hit with these preachers are some from Isaiah (27:6; 43:5-7) and Jeremiah (16:14-15; 23:3-8; 29:14; 30:3), where God promises to bring His people back to their own land (Israel) from the countries they were scattered into. Most Christians and Jews believe that this was fulfilled in 1948 when Israel was declared as a sovereign state by the British through the Balfoure Declaration. I have no doubts as to the authenticity of God's word, and do believe what God says will happen will eventually happen. I understand the fear of many Christians to say anything against Israel, as it is afterall the original nation of God, and a host of curses have been laid out in the Bible for those who stand against this nation.
But has Israel done everything right? When I was a student in America I was mainly influenced by the Christian American perspective of the Middle East, then I moved to the Middle East and everything changed. Although I wasn't living anywhere near Israel or Palestine (UAE) the whole geographical area of the Middle East is heavily influenced by what happens in the Holy Land. I was there when the second Intifada (uprising) started in 2000. There were images on television of a father holding on to his young son's dead body as a result of live round fire by the Israeli army in response to stones and rocks being thrown at them by Palestinian protestors; there were images of the same mob being met with tankers firing actual live rounds of ammunition. The worst thing about this uprising was it wasn't the Palestinians that instigated it.
As a finishing student in a college in the UAE, I had to complete a module in Arab Studies. I chose to tackle the intifada for my project and presentation. It was a great experience for me because half my class were Palestinians, many of them from families that moved to the UAE as refugees after the Israeli occupation. I was fortunate enough to hear their side of the story first hand, and include some of this information in my presentation. They talked about the occupation of scores of towns in the years leading upto that important day in 1948; and they talked about public executions of Palestinians carried out by the occupying forces. So the question still stands, Has Israel done everything right? Is this really God ordained?
Many westerners, in particular Christians, who regularly watch Christian Television networks are carried away by pro-Israeli and anti-Palestinian teachings, the same way the general public is carried away by news channels. My intention here is not to dispute God's Word, neither is it to take sides. My intention is to question what we see and hear and not make conclusions without comprehensive information. God Himself invites us to come and reason with Him (Isaiah 1:18). This is the freedom in believing in a God who is open to discussion. Let us not forget that preachers and leaders, as esteemed as they may be, are still human, and are as vulnerable as the rest of us in terms of temptations, mistakes and the like.
The Israel-Palestine conflict has become a trumph card for Islamic terrorists all over the world. Groups like Al-Qeida and the likes have constantly used the situation in the Middle East as one of the biggest motivating factors in recruiting young and vulnerable men and women to carry out attacks against any system that doesn't serve their purpose. Just what is this purpose? Take the India-Pakistan situation for instance. The battle for Kashmir has been ongoing since independence in 1947, and thousands of lives have been lost through war and terrorism. The terrorist leaders are known to use Israel and Palestine as a means of comparison to the Kashmir issue.
At the end of the day, the battle for Kashmir is not God ordained, as the militants would preach to recruits. Its not a battle between the pure (Muslims) and the infidels (Hindus or non-Muslims), but it is merely a battle for a piece of land that was left for grabs by the great British Empire when it left the region. Similarities exist in the case of the Middle East, where again, it was the end of a British regime that marked the Balfour Declaration giving the Jews their 'Land', and the conflict is on till today for this land. It doesn't make things any easier especially when both groups consider themselves the pure 'race' of God with terrorists backing one side and governments backing the other! At the end of the day, its merely a battle for land, and its going around in circles from geographical area to geographical area, and from belief to belief, and if it doesn't stop, the end of the world might just start at its Middle (East)!