A Statement of Hybridized Political Thought on the Middle East Conflict
By Alan Friedlander
By the grace of God, I was blessed to write previously from a religious perspective on why there should be Israeli concern for Arabic civil rights in the West Bank and Gaza, even as land-for-peace is rejected as an option in a peace process. India is a country that knows all too well how the surrender of land to a single disgruntled ethnic group to form a country of their own does not guarantee a lasting peace. I wrote from a religious perspective on this eight months ago, not in an effort to force my religious viewpoint on anyone, Israeli or Arab, religious or secular, rather my call for the disentitlement of Arabs to absolute control of the territories that they currently occupy is due only because their claims are legally unequal to Israeli claims even according to non-sectarian international legal principles as well. It is this fact that international law and the Jewish faith have a common ground in realities on the ground in the Middle East Conflict that gives a cause for hope to find a greater consensus towards lasting peace in any peace process that will seriously consider both perspectives at the same time.
Did you ever wonder why Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers of the USA decided to quote mainly from political philosopher John Locke when writing the Declaration of Independence? Benjamin Franklin personally knew several members of the French Enlightenment. So why did they skip the Philosophes of their day to quote a philosopher of the previous century? You see, in political thought, in ancient times, religion preceded secularism. During and following the Enlightenment, secularism preceded religion. But between those ages, in the early Modern Period, political philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke openly considered both perspectives in unison, in what I consider a generally healthier dose of hybridized thought, which outclasses mainstream secularist myopia that burdens many political theorists today. Hobbes and Locke, if they lived today, would outclass today’s philosophers in their ability to evaluate modern issues that stand in the way of successful peace processes and thereby be more readily able to create a new philosophic direction to cure such woes. In the Enlightenment, religion was labeled (libeled?) as less rational. But, even assuming so, in the pursuit of finding a true peace methodology, "Rationalism" alone does not adequately address the causes and does not accurately predict future reactions of opposing religious belief systems and the disparate people who possess them.
Jews are bidden, by the Creator of All, to be a ‘light unto the nations’ (Isaiah 42.6 & 49.6); implicit in this is the need for Jews to not hate or discriminate against gentiles as a chosen policy. Only true enemies of creation (such as terrorists) deserve the dispensing of hatred as policy, as per: "Those who hate You, O Lord, I hate and with those who contend against You, I shall contend.” (Psalm 139.21).
Because the ways of peace requires dealing with peoples of other religions, it is not a lack of faith to seek secularly acceptable standards for international relations. Indeed, the way of the Torah is to avoid conflict by finding a compromise solution that does not compromise one’s faith. In other words, evaluate each potential peace solution in the guiding light of the Torah, even if every last minutia is not found in the Torah. Seeking hybridized political standards in diplomacy, therefore, is consistent with the Torah attitude towards political philosophy.
I am not suggesting placing any other philosophy on par with God’s Holy Word. I mean that those who refuse to listen to religion or those that refuse to listen to any ideas from those who are not religious are leaving themselves bereft of the full picture and also the very goal of the Torah’s path to peace itself. Simply put: by hearing all sides, a common ground can be found. John Locke and Thomas Hobbes knew at least that much.
True enemies of Israel, according to Western/Lockean Theory, would be those who try to extinguish Israeli Life, Liberty, or Property; Heaven forefend. Life corresponds to true peace, Liberty relates to the right to pursue religious freedoms such as for Jews to worship at their holy sites without danger, and Property is land and the buildings upon it and the potential prosperity that they can bring.
Assuming friendly Arabs respect the concept of everyone sharing evenhanded Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Property Rights, and of all Israelis being protected under IDF rule and Jews worshipping at their holy sites, then so too Israelis must be prepared to acknowledge that West Bank and Gaza Arabs are people too, and like Israeli settlers they should be allowed to keep their homes and have affordable and legitimately achievable access to good jobs and economic improvement. But I want even more than such basics for them. To fulfill the Lord's Will, it appears to me that we must go beyond our current achievements for their betterment, but of course, only once West Bank and Gaza Palestinians as a whole go beyond their current rabid levels of opposition to even the most fundamental Israeli and non-Islamic rights in the Holy Land.
On that fateful day, when the knowledge of the Lord and tolerance of others are ingrained into Palestinian society more deeply than the worship of terror is today, then these wonderful things can occur. Then we can ask ourselves whether we are doing enough to truly respect Arabic Palestinians. This process would be hastened by a program that weeds terrorists out of normative Palestinian society.
Achieving true regard for and from West Bank and Gaza Arabs, in such an enlightened age of post-terrorism, comes by advocating an end to their current segregation from normative Israeli Arabic society. Tearing down a fence may not be enough to bring economic and other forms of equality fast enough to make them feel a part of the State of Israel. Yes, that is important. Trust me on this. Imagine if you were one of them.
Once we agree to the same goal, i.e., to transition West Bank and Gaza Arabs from refuges to immigrants as soon as possible, and that everyone in the territories who rejects terrorism deserves to keep their home and not fear eviction, Jew and Arab alike, then the only real question is what step to take next to help integrate the Arab immigrants into Israeli society. The best vehicle to this, in my opinion would be to allow a natural enhancement to the current level of immigrant Palestinian Arab civil rights in Israel, and I suggest that this should be by giving them the right to vote in Israeli elections, just as their cousins over the Green Line enjoy today, but only in a way that is not demographically destructive to the State of Israel.
Further Reading (full URLs of the above hyperlinks)…
In honor of my mother, Sarah bas Yosef HaCohain, 13 years since her passing to the World of Truth