The Middle East is often called the Cradle of Civilization. Mesopotamia flourished between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers starting 4,000 years ago and Egypt became ascendant a thousand years earlier. During these 5,000 years there have been numerous cultures that have populated this region of Northern Africa and Middle Eastern Asia. Each of these peoples claims a part of this area of the earth as a homeland. This yearning by all involved and each’s legitimate historical claims have led to thousands of years of cooperation and conflict between and among these similar and related cultures.
If the worst war is a civil war, the Middle East has seen the yang and yin of almost inexplicable struggles countless times over countless years. The Palestinians and Jews are the latest peoples to yearn for the same geographical area of the Middle East. Each has a bona fide historical claim. And even though the two peoples are genetically and culturally first cousins whose common mythical progenitor was Abraham from the Land of Ur (Iraq), many in each group do not allow for the other group’s aspirations for a homeland. Further, because much of the rest of the world has intervened and interfered in this region, it is incumbent upon those interloping countries to act as honest brokers and facilitate a lasting peace with mutual freedom, security and prosperity for all Jews, Arabs and others in that region. Such an outcome is in everyone’s best interests.
The historical intricacies of the region are enhanced and aggravated by the interwoven religions that center upon this geographical area. The Torah of Judaism, the New Testament of Christianity and the Koran of Islam might lead an objective observer to believe each of these “People of the Book” would recognize and respect the adherents of the other faiths. However, countless often contradictory interpretations have been relied upon to justify and encourage actions that belie the egalitarian philosophies contained in these great writings. It makes one wonder if John Lennon’s call for ♪ No religion too ♪ in his anthem Imagine might have been prescient or even prophetic.
Our current crisis in the Middle East has its roots in the British Balfour Declaration of 1917 calling for a Jewish national homeland in Palestine that contained many Arabic peoplesand a small minority of Jews. The letter from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, to Lord Rothschild of the British Jewish community contained the following proviso:
“…[I]t being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine…”
Not surprisingly as the United States’ experience with generously giving Native American land to non-Indians should have cautioned, this grand plan to create a place for Jews was not well received by the inhabitants already living in Palestine.
Then in 1948 the United States under President Truman was the first country to recognize the state of Israel. The U.S. has been Israel’s most important supporter diplomatically, financially and militarily. Since Britain and America were most instrumental in the establishment of Israel in Palestine, they have the moral obligation to provide the impetus diplomatically, financially and militarily, to establish a homeland for the Palestinians Israel displaced. That homeland should include East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank as well as full and equal citizenship for all people, Jews and others, who reside in Israel.
It may turn out that the establishment of a free and independent state of Palestine will take as long and be as difficult as the establishment of Israel. But a reasonable place for the United States and Great Britain to start is the end of diplomatic, financial and military support to any entity that opposes such a truly permanent peace plan. And because the United States and Great Britain have spent great amounts of money and great efforts towards the economic, humanitarian and security needs of Israel since 1948, it is morally just that the United States and Great Britain implement a full-scale Marshall Plan for Palestine.