8 February 2010
Violence in Jerusalem
Monday is scorching with the heat of the bomb that erupted in central Jerusalem. Both Jews and Muslims wander the streets looking for loved ones, the pain is equal in everyone’s eyes. Most of these people look the same; it’s hard to fathom what divides them so greatly. It is second nature for humans to discriminate against others who are different; people feel safe with those who share similar beliefs. Since the beginning of time man has waged war over his larger purpose in this universe; this purpose is often channeled through religion. One of the greatest religious wars in history was The Crusades. The Crusades were fought over a stretch of land considered holy by three of the world’s biggest religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Still today thousands of lives are being unnecessarily lost over this stretch of land the size of Rhode Island. This divine argument, originally involving the local people, now encompasses many of the countries across the globe. Indeed many of the world’s current conflicts – from Iraq to Afghanistan - are seeded in the Israeli - Palestinian conflict. This ancient and bloody quarrel is like a fire that is fed continuously by the violent acts of both sides. This current violence is a disease that must be stopped before it coins the beginning of World War III. The world cannot ignore this fact and must unite to resolve it. Solutions are needed. The violence needs to stop in Jerusalem because past mistakes should not be repeated and the world’s nations are picking sides. Israel and Palestine should coexist peacefully.
While the world’s three major religions have shed blood for centuries over the holy land known as Jerusalem, the most modern chapter of bloodshed began after World War II. After the Holocaust in Europe which saw the death of six million Jews, Jewish leaders went to the United Nations (UN) to ask for a country where they could live and practice their religion in peace (Simmons). With the support of the UN, the country of Israel was established in 1948 as a Jewish state and included Jerusalem (Simmons). Conflict erupted almost immediately because the Palestinian Muslims were living on this land and considered it their home. Neighboring countries which were also Muslim joined with the Palestinians in what has now become a 50 year war, a modern Crusade (Simmons). The violence continues today.
The fight between the Palestinians and the Israelis is horrible enough; however, the world’s nations have been picking sides too. Every nation bears responsibility - especially the United States. “Israel-United States military relations have been extremely close” (“Israel”). Indeed, the United States (U.S.) has exploited this fight. In the recent Cold War with the Soviet Union, the U.S. championed Israel and the Soviet Union the Palestinians in order to gain advantage over one another. While the Cold War may be over, the U.S. continues to fuel passions in the Middle East conflict with its current War on Terror aimed at Muslim extremists. And Russia – as the former Soviet Union - is also still in the mix as reported by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) in 2005 regarding a statement by the Russian Foreign Minister. “Russia will support both politically and financially the actions of the Palestinian authorities to fight terrorism” ("Russia”). The terrorism referred to here is the violence being generated by opposing factions within Palestine itself. Of course, the Israelis and the Palestinians blame each other for each act of violence, claiming it as an act of retribution for the crimes of the other. With more nations picking sides, it makes the hope for peace less likely.
Perhaps the seeds of a solution are already taking root in the dreams of the younger generation of Israelis and Palestinians who have grown up in fear and have been worn down by this constant state of war. As described by Simmons, kids walking home from school are always looking for places to hide for when the bomb sirens go off. She even tells of a caterpillar structure at a children’s playground that serves as a bomb shelter. Sarah Brajtbord of the group, Students for a Free Palestine, summed it up this way, “You can get so wrapped up in politics … but if you break it down to bare-bones human rights, then it just makes the situation, for me, so much clearer and easier to understand. There’s so much wrong with politics on both sides … in the end, it’s about human life.” ("Israeli-Palestinian”).The solution to this conflict lies in creating one state where the Palestinian Muslims and the Israeli Jews recognize each other’s humanity and make peace in order to share the country and live under one government. This would give both people access to holy sites in the sacred city of Jerusalem and equal access to critical natural resources such as water. None other than the leader of Libya, Muammar Qaddafi, said, “If the present interdependence and the historical fact of Jewish-Palestinian coexistence guide their leaders, and if they can see beyond the horizon of the recent violence and thirst for revenge toward a long-term solution, then these two peoples will come to realize, I hope sooner rather than later, that living under one roof is the only option for a lasting peace” ("The New York”). Uniting the Jews of Israel and the Muslims of Palestine into one nation would mean peace through the entire Middle East.
Jerusalem’s violent past needs to not be repeated because now it is evolving to a global scale. Peaceful coexistence seems to be the only solution. The world’s citizens must remember this is not just Jerusalem’s problem, but the world’s problem. It might be human nature for people to discriminate against others who are different, but forgiveness is taught in the Bible, the Torah and the Koran. There is always hope.