Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s announcement that Israel is withdrawing from US-brokered peace talks with Palestinians came as no surprise. He and his conservative Israeli supporters have long looked for an excuse…any excuse…to avoid peace. That excuse presented itself when Palestinians announced that Fatah and Hamas, the two largest political parties in Palestine, had joined hands for the negotiations.
Certainly, Hamas has been an enemy of Israel. But so has Fatah. In return, Israel has been an enemy of Palestine. Exactly what is the difference? In the past, none of these groups has believed the others have a right to exist. But if warring parties want to achieve peace, they absolutely must negotiate with their enemies. That’s why they’re called peace talks! If you’re unwilling to negotiate with your enemies, you are doomed to be perpetually at war.
The other player in this standoff that is seldom recognized is the organization of Christian evangelicals that sponsors and finances the expansion of Israeli “settlements” in the occupied territories of the West Bank. These “settlements” are, in reality, large suburbs of Jerusalem built to ensure that the territories, and all of Jerusalem, remain under Israeli control.
Why, you may ask, would Christian evangelicals care about the settlements?
The answer is that they hope that complete Israeli occupation of the “Promised Land” will hasten Armageddon and the return of Christ. They believe that, when the “Promised Land” is fully occupied by Jews, the Messiah will return and they will be magically, and immediately, transported to the golden city in the sky.
So let’s review. The players in this bizarre melodrama include Fatah, the party of Yasser Arafat, that engaged in terrorist acts from the very beginnings of Israel; Hamas, the fundamentalist Islamic political party allied with the Muslim Brotherhood and Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades; Israel, the Jewish nation that has ignored the nuclear proliferation treaty, spied on its allies, trampled on the civil rights of Palestinians and believes in disproportionate response to any form of attack; and Christian zealots who are in such a hurry to get to heaven that they are willing to foment terrorism and armed combat.
Ironically, these characters all claim to be following the teachings of their respective religions! I guess those teachings don’t include compassion and common sense.