In a statement Monday, Vice President Biden said the U.S. is consulting with other nations “on new ways to address the humanitarian, economic, security, and political aspects of the situation in Gaza.” What are the religious and moral considerations in determining those “new ways,” especially in light of Israel’s raid on an aid flotilla from Turkey bound for Gaza.
Palestine, the world’s only tri-continental land bridge, gets the prize for the world’s most complicated real-estate history. It’s on the Fertile Crescent from Mesopotamia (Iraq) to Egypt, the sweep of lands that gave birth to the world’s most influential book, the Bible. Gaza? Now that the West’s style of government is gaining strength in Iraq, Gaza is the Crescent’s current flashpoint.
As Vice President Biden said on “Charlie Rose,” Israel was within international law in deterring the flotilla’s effort to break Israel’s blockade of an enemy, namely, Hamas Gaza. Legality is a “moral consideration,” and in this sense Israel’s deterring the flotilla was moral. Moral also was Israel’s prior offer to harbor the flotilla and, after examining its cargoes for weapons, transport to Gaza any aid. Moral also is Israel’s daily transport to Gaza what Israel considers life-essentials.
While the flotilla claimed to be nonviolent, film clips show one ship to be violent (the hypocrites attacking Israeli investigators descending on ropes). Only on that ship were there any deaths. While the death-toll seems to me excessive, the Israelis had the moral right of self-defense: they were, as visible in their descent on ropes, nonviolent.
The “aid flotilla from Turkey” was organized by an al-Qaida-related Turkish organization. Aid was a front for the intent to break the Israeli blockage of Gaza, and the intent succeeded: Egypt, in violation of its agreement with Israel, has opened its Gaza border. Weaponry need now no longer flow underground into Gaza. Since Hamas is constitutionally dedicated to the destruction of Israel, further warring is as inevitable as warring can be. To survive, Israel cannot permit the full arming of Gaza.
“JUSTICE” is the religio-moral umbrella word for “the Palestine problem.” The 1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine recommended the ending of the British Mandate by 1 Oct 48 – to be succeeded by a just partition of Palestine into a Jewish state, an Arab state, and an UN-administered Jerusalem territory. On 14 May 48, the Jews declared the State of Israel and five Arab armies attacked with the intention of taking over the whole of Palestine. The Jews accepted distributive justice, the Arabs insisted on zero-sum justice.
West Bank Palestinians are showing signs of accepting distributive justice. Trade with Israel is increasing, and an influx of foreign capital is lifting the economy. The will to live is trumping the will to live injustice, which continues to strangle life and hope in Gaza.
The will to live injustice – that is, to center personal and public attention on a negative, an injustice – is self-victimizing. At whatever cost, the injustice must be overcome. By suggesting the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, the UN was permitting an injustice to the Arab resident of Palestine (and preventing a greater injustice, namely, a Jewish take-over of the whole of Palestine). From 14 May 48, Arab Palestinians had the option of swallowing the injustice and establishing a State of Palestine. West Bank Palestinians are showing signs of swallowing the injustice and getting on with their lives.
For Hamas, swallowing the injustice is not an option. Its leaders are enraged by the softening of the West Bank Palestinians. Islam’s division of the world into dar es Salam (Muslim territory) & dar es harb (war territory) includes the religious duty of restoring to Islam any territory formerly Muslim. As Muslim Palestinians before the establishment of the State of Israel considered the whole of Palestine Muslim territory, Hamas sees the destruction of the State of Israel as a non-negotiable. (So did Fatah’s Arafat, but he managed to keep it concealed.)
Would the West Bank Palestinians’ establishment of a State of Palestine tend to weaken Hamas’ grip on Gaza? I think the reverse. An armed State of Palestine could easily be persuaded to honor the Islamic duty to restore Muslim territory that had fallen to “infidels,” and the urge to try and destroy the so-nearby Israeli cities might be irresistible. To forestall this possibility, the State of Palestine, perhaps under a UN mandate, might be declared an unarmed state – an impossible possibility.
Given all the factors in play, especially religion, the war process will continue as “the peace process” floats listlessly on its surface. Meanwhile, Christians are gradually disappearing from Arab areas of what the Romans insultingly called “Palestine” (the land of the Philistines).