Given the current conflict in the Middle East, there doesn’t seem to be much hope for peace in sight shortly. There are calls for a ceasefire. But, no matter how deeply each party may need that, they are not going for one. Then there is this all-time lingering question; the creation of a Palestinian state. Even here people are deeply divided. Some call for the importance of having a two-state solution. There are others, who are quite pessimistic about that. There is a small bunch of people, who for one reason or the other, advocate the creation of a one-state.
I have held a personal view about this matter for a long time, that I will share here today. I believe that a solution for peace based on the creation of two states can never be long-lasting. The two-state solution tries to mend the many problems that happened in the region between 1948 till now. Most proponents of the solution argue that Israel should revert to the status quo ante of 1967 borders. Based on those borderlines, two states should be created, one for the Jews and the other for the Palestinians. The latter are predominantly Muslims, in a demographic sense.
And here lies the biggest problem with the idea. No matter how the boundaries shall be carved for such a solution, a basic issue that the proposal forgets is that Christians also live in the region. The whole land of Israel/Palestine is somehow sacrosanct to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. People belonging to these faiths have been living there for centuries. Each city or town has a religious emblem that belongs to either of the religions. There is either an ancient synagogue, a historical church, or a beautiful mosque present in every town of the country. The religious heritage of all of these entities is so intertwined that it is indeed quite cruel to take it apart. Similarly, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim lives were also tightly woven into each other throughout the country for so many centuries.
Jews of the present day claim that they want to claim (almost the whole) country for themselves because she belonged to their kings and prophets. They claim that historically it is their land for thousands of years. And despite the fact that many of the Jewish people in Israel’s political administration are Ashkenazi Jews, their demand does make a lot of sense. Why should it matter that Ashkenazi Jews are indeed not descendants of Israelites, and hence Semetic, but belong to a different branch of the progeny of Prophet Noah i.e. Japheth? If they are Jewish and they want to live in the land of Israel/Palestine, why shouldn’t they be able to do so?
Palestinian Muslims also have a very compelling argument. They claim that they are the Israelites whose ancestors used to be Jews or Christians once upon a time and who converted to Islam at some stage are natural heirs of the land. Hashim, who was the great-grandfather of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is buried in Gaza. Although not an Israelite, he was still Semetic as he descended from Prophet Ishmael (PBUH). Prophet Abraham (PBUH) descended from Sam, the son of Prophet Noah (PBUH), and he is considered the forefather of the Semitic people. Palestinian Muslims also argue that they could still keep on living in peace with Jews and Christians the way they had been living for centuries before 1948. And why shouldn’t they profess to coexist peacefully? There is no reason for that.
Christians, Palestinian and worldwide, are either quiet on this matter or they tend to side with the Palestinians in the sense that they do advocate the creation of a sovereign Christian state for the Palestinians, who, as I argued before, are largely Muslim demographically. They do not speak much about the creation of a Christian state. At least from the rallies, campaigns and protests that are going on around the Western world weekly, there is no shout about the creation of a Christian state. They only talk about freeing Palestine.
But we must remember that an affinity for Jerusalem and the Holy sites brought Christendom to the Crusades around a millennium ago. This was also a very gory affair. I will write my thoughts about it in a different post. My point at present is that even if the present generation of Christians is not very worried about claiming a part of the land of Israel/Palestine for themselves, their latter generations may not choose to abandon their claim in the long run. Hence, what we may see a few hundred years from now could be another series of crusades on the two-state solution.
So we need a more prudent and long-lasting solution to the conflict that has been going on for exactly three quarters of a century. What could be that? Creation of a three-state solution? A separate state for each of the three major historical faiths of the land? A three-state solution is going to divide the country so badly that it will almost entirely erase the historical heritage. Moreover, there will then be the question of who is going to get what. Clearly, all portions of the landmass of Israel are not equal to each other in their value. There are coasts, deserts, arid and arable pieces of land. How shall a fair division come about?
The three-state solution is not a viable one at least for me. I personally believe that any fair solution should be based on creating a one-state. This one state-country should be democratic. Hence, what they might settle for is that, let’s say, they could agree on something like having a Christian president, a Muslim prime minister, and a Christian chief justice. Or they may choose to have a political hierarchy that is somewhat like that. They could have a law that treats Jews, Christians and Muslims according to their respective religious laws. And they could have their due religious freedoms. They could have the right to grow and prosper. They could have the right of being happy, but not at the expense of any other party’s misery. This could be a great country.
Many times nowadays in talk shows, when people try to say a word about the massive mistreatment of Palestinians, the talk show host asks this shunning question: But do you condemn Hamas? Or there is a school of thought that if Hamas were to lay their weapons, everything could be sorted out.
The democratic one-state should observe the complete disarmament of Hamas as well as Israel. Everyone should live under security guarantees provided by the major world powers as well as Middle Eastern countries. USA could be a natural guarantor, combined with Saudi Arabia, UAE, and even Pakistan. Ireland could be a very credible country to provide security guarantees, as the people of this country at large have a very clear conscience. Moreover, I propose to maintain a peacekeeping military force in the region. This force could be led by Ireland and every major country in the world could provide battalions to it, including the Saudis and Pakistan. By the way, I prefer Ireland because of her credibility. And given her past of being a country that had been colonized for almost a millennium, I believe that it will also stand with the oppressed.
I read some time ago a very logical argument that Christians and Muslims all have many countries in the world, and Jews have only one. And that Muslims are hellbent on destroying even that one country. That need not be the case. What I propose is that even apart from a democratic Israel/Palestine, the world powers should lobby to create a number Jewish states in multiple parts of the world. For instance, one of my thoughts is to have an exclusively Jewish country in every major continent including America, Asia, Africa, and Europe.
And why should it be a bad proposal? Muslims should not have a problem with this. After all, when early Muslims acquired the country from the Roman Empire, they happily settled Jews and Christians in it. Christians should not have a problem with it, as it will only enable easy access to their pilgrimage sites, which they are not talking about presently. Jews should also not have a problem with this, as in addition to having a democratic country of their own, they additionally have the possibility of achieving a few more countries in different parts of the world. The only requisite is to have a political will. And why should there be a shortage of political will on the part of major political powers of the world who spend billions of dollars to ensure a debilitating destruction of the Palestinians so that they might not pose a threat to Israel?
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