Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Finding the Right Negatives, Part VI: The Point of Reunification: Abraham

The Arab-Israeli dispute over land is a classic illustration of a "zero-sum" game. In a zero-sum game, one side can gain only at the other's expense. It is a "win-lose" situation, or (more often) a "lose-lose" in most circumstances, where the only tangible result is envy and resentment.

The two sides have fought over this land for centuries. The land is holy to three major religions. It is the symbolic crossroads of the world community as it is strategically set between the East and the West, as well as the North and the South. Everyone, therefore, has a stake in a peaceful and just resolution of the dispute not just Palestinians and Israelis.

Two obviously important points must be faced before we consider the creation of a new nation. First, present hostilities must not be ignored. This should be obvious. But any proposed solution would rest on political quicksand unless it recognized existing hatreds and fears of Jews and Arabs, as well as their legitimate hopes and aspirations. To overcome these hostilities to the point where Arabs and Jews can work out their differences, we must look to the past for a common bond.

Arabs and Jews have a point of unity both can understand: Abraham, the Old Testament patriarch.

Arabs trace their ancestry to Abraham through Ishmael, whom he fathered through his wife's servant Hagar. Jews trace their bloodlines to Abraham through his son Isaac and grandson Jacob, who, according to the Bible, God later renamed Israel. The name "Abraham" literally means "father of many nations." Having once separated the descendants of Ishmael from the children of Israel, 3,800 years later, Abraham could fulfill the biblical prophecy not only of their unification but also of the eventual unification and harmony of all nations and peoples.

Symbols of the past often serve as useful symbols for charting the future. A federation of the spiritual and blood descendants of Abraham could offer a bold political framework for taking small steps in a new direction. Thus, rather appropriately, the new nation could be named the "Abraham Federation."

With this philosophical common thread, the question is: Where do we start? The answer is: In the historic region of Judea and Samaria the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, where Arab and Jewish settlements exist today under Israeli military control.

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