14 August 2010
Peace in Jerusalem
In June this year, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, "JERUSALEM: The Israeli President, Shimon Peres, has said his nation's policy towards the Gaza Strip has not yielded the results the government expected, and he criticised municipal plans to tear down 22 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem to make way for redevelopment.
The Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, attacked the timing of the plans to raze the Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem as prejudicial to hopes for continuing peace talks.
The national security adviser of the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, suggested the outlook for the peace talks mediated by the US was bleak."
Today’s London Telegraph reports, “Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, is expected to drop his long-standing objection to direct peace talks with Israel within days, according to leaked letter written by Baroness Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief. Raising hopes for a breakthrough after months of stalemate, Lady Ashton's letter came amid a flurry of international diplomatic activity designed to push both sides into face-to-face negotiations for the first time in over 18 months.
Any climb down by the Palestinian leader, who has long demanded a freeze on all Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a condition for direct talks, would represent a much-needed foreign policy success for President Barack Obama ahead of midterm elections in November.”
So how will peace ever come? Is it in negotiations and leaked memos? Is it in bravado or in strong-arm tactics?
The Bible makes it clear, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem." That's a mandate. It's a requirement for peace-loving people. It's incumbent on those who want peace to make peace with God about His plans for the place. So before we start (or continue) to tell everyone how to make the political situation calmer or more righteous (depending on your religious verbiage), we have to pray. And we have to pray specifically for the peace of Jerusalem.
Over in New York City, energy is being spent by a lot of serious folks about a mosque to be built near Ground Zero, the site of the bombing of the World Trade Center nearly 9 years ago. Families of those killed in the attacks have mounted an emotional campaign to block the mosque, saying it would be a betrayal of the memory of the victims.
Conservative US politicians like former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, a Republican former Speaker of the House of Representatives, have also called for the project to be scrapped.
But who weighed in? President Barack Hussein Obama is in favor! Reuters reports, "U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday backed construction of a proposed mosque and Muslim cultural center near the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York - a project opposed by U.S. conservatives and many New Yorkers.
"As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country," Obama said at an event attended by diplomats from Islamic countries and members of the U.S. Muslim community."
Is this a distraction from my topic of peace in Jerusalem? I don't think so. For many, peace in Israel and peace in their neighbourhood are linked. And it's about Jews and Moslems. It's about religious freedom. Or is it?
But wait, is that all there is in Israel, and in Jerusalem itself? Are the only people in the Land of Israel so binary that this global us vs. them thinking is warranted? Not at all.
Wikipedia say, "The State of Israel had population of approximately 7,503,800 inhabitants as of December 2009. 75.4% of them were Jewish (about 5,660,700 individuals), 20.3% were Arabs (About 1,523,900 inhabitants), while the remaining 4.3% (about 319,200 individuals) were defined as "others" (family members of Jewish immigrants who were not registered at the Interior Ministry as Jews, non-Arab Christians, non-Arab Muslims and residents who do not have a religious classification)." And again, "About 82.6% of the Arab population in Israel is Sunni Muslim (with a very small minority of Shia), another 9% is Druze, and around 9% is Christian (mostly Eastern Orthodox and Catholic denominations)." They don't even count on Wikipedia the thousands and thousands of Jewish people who believe in Jesus as our Messiah.
Here's my point.
The people of Israel are not only Jewish or Muslim. There are people of all backgrounds and all religions in the Land. And if we want peace in the Land, we have to pray for peace in Jerusalem. We have to trust God to bring His purposes to bear in the Land. To bring Y'shua the Messiah as Saviour to a war-torn situation. He wants peace, but not at any cost (sorry Mr Chamberlain).
Peace between peoples who are at war costs the blood of a Martyr, not of martyrs. It costs the blood of Yeshua the messiah to fulfill biblical 'completion' in the sense of a sacrifice.
We were (and are) far from God. And God didn't move; it's we who have failed, and have walked away from His plans. The only way to real peace, between us on a human level, is not politics or treaties. It's about relationship with God first and foremost. The answer to peace is not in Washington. As Obama confirms.
Listen to what Charles Krauthammer said today, "That’s why Disney’s early ’90s proposal to build an American history theme park near Manassas Battlefield was defeated by a broad coalition fearing vulgarization of the Civil War (and wiser than me; at the time I obtusely saw little harm in the venture). It’s why the commercial viewing tower built right on the border of Gettysburg was taken down by the Park Service. It’s why, while no one objects to Japanese cultural centers, the idea of putting one up at Pearl Harbor would be offensive.
"And why Pope John Paul II ordered the Carmelite nuns to leave the convent they had established at Auschwitz. He was in no way devaluing their heartfelt mission to pray for the souls of the dead. He was teaching them a lesson in respect: This is not your place, it belongs to others. However pure your voice, better to let silence reign.
"Even New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who denounced opponents of the proposed 15-story mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero as tramplers on religious freedom, asked the mosque organizers “to show some special sensitivity to the situation.” Yet, as Rich Lowry pointedly noted, the government has no business telling churches how to conduct their business, shape their message, or show “special sensitivity” to anyone about anything. Bloomberg was thereby inadvertently conceding the claim of those he excoriates for opposing the mosque, namely, thatGround Zero is indeed unlike any other place and, therefore, unique criteria govern what can be done there.
"Bloomberg’s implication is clear: If the proposed mosque were controlled by “insensitive” Islamist radicals either excusing or celebrating 9/11, he would not support its construction." "
Where is peace in Jerusalem? It's in the Founder of Jerusalem. It's in the City whose builder and maker is God. That's why we need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Let's let God have His way in the Land which is His land. And let's do things His way at His timing. Fair enough? And let's let silence be the way of conversation at Ground Zero, too. That makes sense to me.