„100 Years of Middle East Conflict – an Honorable Solution. How can the Muslim World make Peace with Israel?”
The heart of the matter
Albert Einstein is supposed once to have said, “Insanity is, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Something of the kind seems to have stymied all attempts to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
How does this book differ from most other contributions aiming at a solution to the Middle-East conflict and why does the author believe that his view can lead to a form of peace that will enable all parties to relax and reconcile?
The main difference may be the author’s decision to accord its due place to one of the most potent motivating powers in this part of the world, the religions.
Usually religions are excluded from political considerations. This is due to one of the basic postulates of international law.
For the same reason cultural history is also excluded – and yet Western civilization would not even be thinkable without the contributions of the Bible. Thus, the land of the Bible has a lasting relevance, a fact that merits acknowledgment, especially in regard to the people who brought forth the Bible, the Jews.
If Muslims reflect on the origins of their religion, they will admit that all prophets before the prophet Mohammed were Jewish. Thus, the land of the Bible is of paramount importance to Muslims too, and this can plainly be seen in Hebron, at the tomb of Abraham, the patriarch of both Jews and Muslims – a truth obscured by the dark realities of today’s unresolved conflict. But that could be quite different. For I see no fundamental obstacle to Muslims’ acknowledging the deep significance of the Jewish religion for the religion of Islam.
It is the events of the twentieth century that prevent this, especially the fact that, because of the recurring exposure of the Jews to persecutions, the United Nations in 1947 awarded them a part of their former Biblical homeland – at the expense of the inhabitants of that land and of one of the holiest Muslim shrines, which was built in the seventh century C. E. at the most venerated site of the Jewish religion in Jerusalem.
Yet, what stands as an apparently insurmountable obstacle today could in the future become an essential motive for peace, precisely because it highlights the importance of the Jews for the religion of Islam.
What Muslims may, however, need if they are to acknowledge that importance, is an accommodation on the part of the Jews.
That is why I am insisting in this book on the extraordinary significance of the name “Israel” and of the event behind that name – the reconciliation between the feuding brothers Esau and Jacob, who had become deadly enemies when Jacob tricked their blind father Isaac into giving him the blessing expected by his elder brother Esau, thus inheriting God’s promise to Abraham that all generations of human beings would be blessed by his descendants, the people who wrote the books of the Bible.
The terrible injustice Jacob committed at the expense of his brother Esau called for expiation and Jacob/Israel did indeed atone for it when, faced with the four hundred mercenaries Esau had hired to kill him, he prostrated before Esau seven times to show how deeply he regretted his deception and the pain it had caused.
That great gesture of humility, throwing himself on his brother’s mercy, came at immense cost to Jacob. All night he had struggled, wrestling with one who, when he would not let him go, struck him on the hip and left him limping; but then bestowed on him the name “Israel”, meaning “he who struggled with God and with humans and overcame”. And when he abased himself before his brother, Esau was so deeply moved that he bent down and raised him up, embracing him and accepting him again as his brother – without making any attempt to revoke Jacob’s succession in the line of Isaac’s blessing.