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Israel needs to accept responsibility for some of the region's problems

By S Ross Jones - posted Wednesday, 28 January 2004

Israel wanted to be like all other nations with a proper king and all the trappings, no matter what the Lord wanted. So the Lord yielded and Saul was anointed. Israel got what they wanted then and they have it again. They are like all other nations-rife with corruption, economic problems, and polarization. The only difference is that Israel continues to blame others for those problems rather than taking any responsibility itself. Everything is the fault of the Palestinians or the Syrians or anti-Semitism, or . . .

Certainly Palestine is not free from its share of the blame. It has its own corruption and political problems. The difference is that Palestine has so few resources that no one can do very much. Israel both controls everything and presents itself as the paragon of virtue. That lack of self-honesty-call it hypocrisy, if you will-is one of the biggest hurdles that needs to be overcome before real progress can be made. People around the world, including many Israelis, believe what Israel says about itself and that keeps them from making any compromises until forced to do so.

Exhibit #1 at the moment is the Separation Barrier. Prime Minister Sharon keeps saying it is totally for security. The International Court of Justice has now agreed to hear the case and Israel expects the verdict that the fence is also a land grab. Most Israelis who agree with Sharon on the purpose of the Barrier would either not be familiar with its route, believe ideologically that God gave them all the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, or just not care.


Exhibit #2 is the matter of negotiations with anybody. Sharon has always been opposed to them, preferring a military solution. He has refused any significant diplomatic activity with the Palestinians for three years under the guise that he will not negotiate with terrorists. Now he has refused to negotiate with Syria and Jordan. Haaretz quoted him as saying there is no way to negotiate with Syria without possibly returning the Golan Heights, a loss of land he will not consider. He will not negotiate with Jordan over the migration effect that will be caused by the Separation Barrier.

Exhibit #3 is the matter of corruption. The criminal charges against PM Sharon and his two sons for accepting bribes and for illegal financing of his election campaign have advanced so far it is questionable how much longer he can survive. Conventional wisdom is that the filed charges are only the tip of the iceberg, but these can be documented.

The same sorts of things could be said about Arafat and Palestine. Indeed America, Europe, and England are also guilty of hypocrisy, and perhaps that is one reason the world is becoming so contentious. What does it take for a nation to be honest about itself? Can a nation be introspective and ask what the Lord wants? Even that is dangerous when the track record of theocracies down through history is so poor. Perhaps the most we can ask is for a nation to decide that concern for human rights, the rights of the least among us, is a value worth defending against all else. We would defend that right inside our own borders as well as outside, and we would not rationalise any transgressions as necessary for political reasons. There would be no targeted assassinations or demolitions of homes. There would be no people held without charges or access to the judicial system.

I know that is asking for the moon. Or perhaps the Garden of Eden. Could we just ask for a people who treat others as they themselves would like to be treated? I suspect God would be pleased with the progress.

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This article was first published in Dean Jones's e-newsletter UPDATE on 20 January 2004.

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About the Author

The Very Reverend S Ross Jones is Dean of St. George's College Jerusalem.

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