God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old, including the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring. Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”
I had written about 2 years ago some suggestions to solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem. The current events in Egypt and the difficulty of achieving accommodation among multiple faiths in the region in the near term, makes working toward my solution of returning to Greater Israel or Palestine of antiquity, a secular nation that is politically inclusive of both the Jews, Arabs and Muslims, not an immediate possibility.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, as the Quartet (United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia) Representative to the Middle East in 2007, has been attempting to take the approach I had suggested since his retirement from British politics. He had even begun teaching at Harvard University about interfaith dialog as the only means to lasting peace in the cradle of civilization. However, the political realities of bridging the gap between everyday life burdened by the injuries of history and the theological convergence of the messages of the faiths can be a tortuous process and requires individuals from all walks of life committed to that cause. Learning from the past while also overcoming the hurts to forgive but not forget so as not to repeat history is the only way toward achieving mutual accommodation.
The three intractable problems in making the two state Zionist Israel – Palestine solution happen have been: (a) the withdrawal of Israel from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights; (b) the passage of Palestinians between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip through Israel; and (c) the status of Jerusalem.
Significant progress has been made to carve out Biblical land for the Zionist state since its founding in 1948. Today’s Israeli borders represent a geopolitical equilibrium, but for the status of Jerusalem to a large extent, and Golan Heights to a small extent. Israel can withdraw from the Golan Heights, the Gaza strip and the West Bank. And must be asked to do so unequivocally by the United Kingdom and the European Union, the very powers that were instrumental in the creation of the state without also creating a Palestinian state at the same time when that opportunity did indeed exist, for Israel has been created as a consequence of World War II, with the roots of the idea going back to Theodor Herzl in Germany in the 19th century.
The two state solution of a democratic Zionist Israel and a democratic Islamic Palestine, with minority Arabs and Muslims in Israel and minority Jews in Palestine is a workable solution and peace can be kept to stabilize those borders, just as peace had been kept to both create and safeguard the Israeli borders since 1948. The regional and international commitment to do so must exist for the new Palestinian state just as it exists for Israel.
Israel cannot, however, withdraw from Jerusalem nor is it fair to expect it to. The shining city on the hill has always been Jewish. However, that it is also claimed by Christians and Muslims is a testament to the faiths Judaism has begotten over time. Christianity has its homelands in Athens (Greek Orthodoxy), Moscow (Slavic Orthodoxy), Rome (Catholicism) and London (Anglicanism). Islam has its home in Saudi Arabia in Mecca and Medinah and in Tehran. Jerusalem represents a confluence of faiths since Abraham, giving it a natural status that encompasses both Israel and the rest at the same time. Therefore, it must become a city-state similar to the Vatican.
The Temple must be and can be rebuilt to co-exist with the Dome of the Rock, for the two true Abrahamic faiths are Judaism and Islam, whose god is YHWH or ALLAH, since Abraham began circumcising all the males.
It is Europe’s and Israel’s choice, given the predominantly pan-European demographics of Israel from the UK (and United States) in the West to Russia in the East, if Israel is to consider economic integration into the European Union (EU) and the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) instead of Turkey’s accession to the EU and EMU (NATO being a defunct institution, Turkey’s NATO membership is inconsequential).
Turkey and Egypt will serve well as anchor countries of the emerging Islamic world together with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq in the region and Indonesia in the east.
Israel belongs where it was brutally expelled from by the Holocaust: in Europe, but across from the Mediterranean.