Jerusalem: A Conflict that (Will Probably) Never End
It has been correctly stated that “The mortal mind alone cannot devise an answer to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because the true answer lies on a level of consciousness that’s beyond our mortal thinking. Quite simply, when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians, we need a miracle.”
The never ending debate on this conflict began again when US President Donald Trump announced that he formally recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, tossing aside 70 years of American neutrality and infuriating Palestinians, who also want their capital to be Jerusalem. Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan remarked that he hopes one day to establish a Turkish embassy in Jerusalem. The 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation announced that they recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. Egypt has introduced a UN Security Council resolution seeking to annul Trump’s announcement. In Jakarta, Indonesian Muslims took to the streets to protest against the decision, waving Palestinian flags. Even in Brussels, most of the Palestinian authorities’ biggest donors, have rejected the idea of following Trump’s lead. But the conflict is not new to the world because it has its own past.
Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world located on a plateau in the Judaen mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. Besides being one of the oldest cities, it is also a holy place of three religious communities: Jewish, Christians and Muslim. According to the Bible, King David conquered the city from Jebusites and established it as the capital of the United Kingdom of Israel, and his son, King Solomon commissioned the building of the First Temple. This temple assumed central symbolic importance for the Jewish people. The holiness of Jerusalem in Christianity conserved in the Septuagint which Christians adopted as their own authority, was reinforced by the New Testament account of Jesus’s crucifixion there. Lastly, in Sunni Islam, Jerusalem is the third holiest city, after Mecca and Medina. In Islamic tradition, it became the first ‘qibla,’ the focal point for Muslim prayer, and Muhammad made his Night Journey there ten years later, ascending to heaven where he speaks to God, according to the Quran.
The whole conflict revolves around a central point of ’Religious Dominance.’ The Jewish majority state, Israel, claims its right of the land as it is a holy place for them and for similar reasons the Muslim majority state, Palestine, demands the same. The major turning point in this conflict came in the Arab-Israel war of 1967, because prior to this war Israel’s government had been in West Jerusalem since the state founding in 1948. In the 1967 war, Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan and subsequently merged it into Jerusalem, together with additional surrounding territory. But the United States like most of the world had withheld formal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital pending a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinian that would fairly resolve all major disputes.
Religion or Humanity First
The word “religion” was recognized in the 17th century, despite the fact that ancient sacred texts like the Bible and the Quran did not have a word or even a concept of religion in the original’s and neither did the people nor the cultures in which these sacred texts were written. The impact still exists even in this era of science and technological invention where life is searched on mars, people fight for their religious hegemony and even murder in the name of religious dominance. This is contrary to what all religion teaches us about peace and sacrifice.
The philosopher and revolutionary socialist Karl Marx once said “Religion is opium for the masses.” His statement seems to be very much in line with the current global scenario and with the context of state of Jerusalem. Both countries,Israel or Palestine, want religious dominance. Today, Jerusalem is under the rule of Israel and rarely permits Muslims to offer their prayer at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The problem arises due to the lack of understanding of–and familiarity with other people. We have to understand that no religion nor custom can cross the line between humanity and inhumanity. It is the basis of any religion to be tolerant and to respect the traditions and customs of every religion, community and even nation.
Surprisingly, the conflict between Israel and Palestine is not limited to only these countries but directly or indirectly it influences millions of people living around the world. In the Arabian Peninsula there is sympathy for the Palestinian cause and this issue of Jerusalem has sparked a lot of emotion and some protests and outrage. However, Arabs mostly are also mired in their own domestic problems and politics.
In the Middle East this issue undermines and weakens America’s partners, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, USE, Bahrain and others who have worked with the US on issues relating to the Iran embargo. The nations perhaps who are pleased, other than the Israeli government, are Iran, its allies and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. We saw Putin immediately take a victory lap, visiting Syria, Egypt and Turkey all in one day while denouncing the Jerusalem decision.
On the other hand countries like India are in a dilemma when it comes to supporting the decision or to denouncing it because India has friendly relations with most of the countries. Moreover, it also seems that the whole world has started to divide into two camps as it did in 1939 when Poland was invaded which led to the Second World War.
World leaders need to agree not to conflate religion with politics. Religious identity has to be separated from politics. If we can succeed in separating politics from religion then the problem of Jerusalem can be resolved in a peaceful manner.
In my opinion both the nation of Israel and Palestine should recognize Jerusalem as an independent state where anyone can visit and can offer prayer in their respective holy places. Both the countries can mutually look after the security and administration and can also provide resources. War should be the last option and peace should be the first because peace is priceless! and that’s a miracle indeed.