The Words of the Wilson Family
Brothers and sisters:
Last month you answered when I surveyed the opinions of Jewish Unificationists and friends of the movement, in both America and Israel, regarding the UN Inquiry over the Gaza Flotilla incident and the larger question of the future of Israel within a so-called two-state solution. Now that peace talks have begun in earnest between Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas, I thought to revisit the survey, share the results with you, and also share my own thoughts on the topics raised in the survey. I do this in the spirit of dialogue, believing, as I mentioned last month, that the views of Unificationists, who know something more about God's providence than most people, carry weight with the Almighty. I even dare to suggest that discussion among ourselves can help "clear the air" spiritually to promote progress in the actual peace talks.
I am attaching the results of the survey.
Now for some of my thoughts:
1. I concur with the majority that supports a two-state solution. Gary Fleisher, Frank Kaufmann and Dr. Glaubach advocated a one-state solution as an ultimate goal. That is certainly consistent with God's ultimate goal of one world nation. But given the amount of work that needs to be done to soften hearts and develop peaceful relations between Jew and Arab, I don't believe we will see it in our lifetime. If peace talks are to succeed in 2010, they will have to be within the framework of two states: Israel and a Palestinian state. Those who wish to pursue the dream of one state for both Jews and Arabs will then have to work hard to move the hearts of the people towards recognition of their common patrimony as children of Abraham -- a tall order indeed.
Nevertheless, I am not persuaded that one state is even desirable in an ideal world, or at any rate, until God decrees that its time has come. At present, the Jewish people have the right to a place where they can express the genius, beauty and distinctiveness of Jewish culture and religion. Thus I take note of demographic arguments, which Sharon had the foresight to acknowledge, that statehood for the Palestinians is the only way to preserve the uniquely Jewish character of Israel, which otherwise could be swamped by a burgeoning Arab population. Furthermore, I believe that measures to spur economic development in Palestine, which would follow normalization of relations, could build ties of trade and mutual benefit.
2. Some were skeptical of the possibility of a Palestinian state that would be content to live in peace with Israel, and pointed to the sorry track-record of undemocratic societies in living in peace with their neighbors. Perhaps, as David Byer remarked, it will take Divine intervention. In my view, Divine Intervention is indeed required, because nothing can be established in such a religion-soaked place as Israel except by the will of God. And there's some reason for hope that Divine intervention is taking place, as we see unprecedented efforts of the Palestinians in the West Bank to establish the infrastructure and institutions of a democratic civil society. This last development in particular gives me cause for hope that a viable two-state solution is possible.
3. I think that any treaty made in 2010 should not establish permanent, fixed borders, but they should be open to review and adjustment down the line. The status of Gaza under the sway of Hamas will have to be left unresolved, even as statehood moves forward for the West Bank. Also, I would hope that the final status of Jerusalem can be bracketed for now. I think that issue is just too contentious. I believe that the fact of statehood, with Ramallah as the capital, will be enough of a plum to give Palestinians pride of accomplishment, as long as future consideration of border issues (including Gaza, the Jordan River, Golan Heights, adjustments to the Wall, and Jerusalem) can be revisited again 10, 20 or 30 years down the line. Fixing permanent borders now that don't include any part of Jerusalem in a Palestinian state could be a deal-breaker for Palestinians, just as fixing the borders now that cedes any part of Jerusalem to them could be a deal-breaker for Israel. So a treaty could set up "interim" borders with hope for future adjustments as a way of getting both sides to the finish line. If we want a Biblical parallel, at the time of David and Solomon, borders were frequently shifting. The disposition of the population was more important than the exact demarcations of borders.
4. On the Settlements issue: I take special note of Eldad Pardo's proposal that the agreement "should include a large Jewish-Israeli minority to balance the large and vibrant Palestinian minority in Israel." If some settlers are so attached as a religious duty to living on biblically-significant land in the West Bank, then let them stay there as a Jewish minority in a future Palestine. They would then become the "canary in the coal mine" to test the Palestinian government's commitment to democracy and fair dealing with Jews. I concur that creating a Palestine where such diversity is tolerated and safeguarded will strengthen Palestinian democracy and improve prospects for peace with Israel, which likewise should take steps to ensure the rights and benefits given to its Arab and Druze minorities.
Alternatively, we might consider giving the settlers a 99-year lease before their land reverts to Palestine, similar to the way the British disposed of Hong Kong to China. This would give the settlers room to breathe, and give the Palestinians assurances that eventually they will receive land that rightfully belongs to them.
5. Jerusalem: The intriguing idea of an inter-religious greater Jerusalem (a district encompassing Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho) was expressed by Israeli poetess Shelly Elkayam. But rather than a large district with separate metropolitan centers for Judaism, Christianity and Islam, I prefer to create a single space for all three religions to live together as a model of peace, representing God's hope for a peaceful world. This could be symbolized by making Jerusalem a "peace zone" where people of all religions can meet. I could envision some sort of joint Israeli-Palestinian-UN administration of at least the Old City and adjacent neighborhoods as an interfaith Peace Zone, creating a model for how former enemies can live together peacefully. Furthermore, I believe that Father Moon's ceremony in December 2003 to crown Jesus as King in Jerusalem points to something about God's wish to have Jesus to receive honor in his own country, which should be respected and fulfilled. Christians who want to adore Jesus in the place of his ministry would be welcome to settle there, alongside Jews and Muslims.
6. Is the extremism of Hamas and other Muslim groups an impossible impediment to peace? I don't believe so. The basis of extremism lies in the hearts of people who are so aggrieved by the experience of injustice, displacement, colonial rule, what have you, that they feel hopeless to accomplish a decent life without resorting to violence. When the conditions in people's lives improve, and when they can see their fellow Muslims making progress through peace, the people of Gaza will soften and they will be able to move away from extremism. A few decades ago no one thought that the PLO would renounce terror, but it did. Hamas could one day do likewise. Islam as a historical religion has been malleable enough to include both tolerant and extreme forms, so the real issue is not religion per se, but the state of people's hearts. I am mindful that religion is more than a political ideology, because it is rooted in God. Inasmuch as religion has the potential to rebind people with God, and inasmuch as God's fervent wish is for peace in the Middle East, when people's hearts are open to peace, God will confirm that thought within them as His genuine religious impulse.
7. Regarding the Gaza Flotilla Commission. We are mostly in agreement about the need for the commission to seek truth and stay within the bounds of legality, which includes respecting Israel's right to secure borders. Some questioned the wisdom of Israel acceding to an outside commission. That is water under the bridge; Netanyahu already agreed to it. Still, I don't think that Israel need fear an honest inquiry into truth, or that she will despair of finding fair dealing from a commission headed by a New Zealander.
Nevertheless, no one who answered the survey mentioned the 9 Turks who were killed. I think that the Commission will want to honor these Turkish dead, who may have gone with the flotilla with idealistic motives (irrespective of whether they were pawns). I can say for myself, that as a Jew, I don't often open my heart to consider the pain and dignity of my counterparts on the other side. Yet as a Unificationist, I am taught to look at things from God's perspective -- God who sees all humanity, Jew and Arab and Turk, as His/Her children.
I hope you appreciate these, my reflections, as we enter the New Year. May it be for all of us a year of peace.