This morning I sat in my doctor’s office with Kleenex in hand as I have been suffering with an intense cough and sinus cold for the last two days. Realizing that there were several people in front of me to see the doctor first, I started shuffling through the piles of magazines sitting in front of me on a lowered coffee table. It was your usual office choices of Chatelaine’s, Canadian Business Men's, and Martha Stewart's. Actually, I was looking for the latest Sports Illustrated but it was a Canadian MacLean’s magazine that grabbed my attention. Blazoned on the front cover was the picture of a group of children standing together and waving an Israeli flag with the title saying "Why Israel Can't Survive'. (For the full article Click Here.) I'm not a political specialist and in truth I find myself highly removed from engaging in an in-depth reasoning as to the stand points of both the Jewish and Palestinian governments with regards to rights and ownership of the West Bank and Gaza lands. My curiosity was spurred by my Christian roots and faith with how we relate to the history of such cultures and land.
The author Michael Petrou himself acknowledges the difficulties in solving such highly emotionally driven and culturally sensitive issues with regards to the Palestinian’s alliances with Iranian officials along with the Israeli’s parallel alliances with the United States. It seems disturbingly captivating when you consider the ethical arguments and imbalances against the possession of nuclear technology by both Iranian and U.S. nations.
Petrou's title summary quote is perhaps best articulated in the article by saying,
"Within one or two decades, the number of Muslim and Christian Arabs living under Israeli control (including in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel itself) will surpass the number of Israeli Jews. When that happens, If there is still no Palestinian state (and in the absence of large scale ethnic cleansing), Israeli's will be forced to choose between two futures. Their country will either be Jewish, but not democratic - in other words, a Jewish minority will control a land mostly inhabited by Palestinians - or Israel will be democratic, but not Jewish, because Arabs will form the majority in what will become a bi-national state.
Israel will be Jewish, or democratic. It can't be both. And if it can't be both, the Zionist dream on which Israel is founded will end. This is the gravest threat Israel faces on the eve of its 60th anniversary. It won't have another 60 years to address it."
It wasn't quit a week ago when my wife and I watched the movie 'Kingdom of Heaven'. It was a theatrical rendition filled with Hollywood effects story of a common man who was thrust into Knighthood by his estranged father during the Crusades. Once he arrives in the Holy Land he quickly realizes that the promise of faithful redemption does not come so quickly or easily through religious bricks and buildings. It comes through the relational storyline of an unseen kingdom. A kingdom of Conscience inside a man's own heart, soul, and mind!
It seems throughout the history and culture of both Israel and Palestine, ideology at its foremost has driven both sides to the brink of madness. A madness which is recognized even within the fictional and non-fictional stories which shape and catalyze each of there claims to righteousness, freedom, and political rule. When will Israel and Palestine embrace each other as brothers free from the desire of religious idolatrous buildings and statues? When can they recognize the true need to fight for the people against the demonic elements of fanatical religious oppression whether Islamic, Jewish, or otherwise? When will the welfare of a 7 year old child suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder take greater value over the possession of a nationalistic title?
Perhaps, in the search and journey for my own Kingdom of Conscience and relationship with a living truth as that in Jesus; I can hold to a promise of greater sustainability and directional foci. The promise of the Kingdom of God being near. Near not in the sense of timeline but, near to my heart in thoughts, desire, and actions. Such a Kingdom seems far more valuable then the possession of any building, land, or title. My hope, my prayer is that Israel and Palestine might also embrace that same vision and truth.
"And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
"The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken."