THE Global Justice Movement Website

THE Global Justice Movement Website
This is the "Global Justice Movement" (dot org) we refer to in the title of this blog.

Monday, February 16, 2009

What's Wrong With This Picture?

According to an Associated Press report, Tzipi Livni, who hopes to be appointed the new prime minister, has declared that Israel can achieve peace with the Palestinians by surrendering approximately half of Israel's territory, thereby securing the safety and continuance of a Jewish State.

It's difficult knowing where to begin.

On a practical note, the most common demand from the surrounding Muslim States and the Palestinians is not that Israel surrender territory, but that Israel surrender its existence. Aside from the fact that territorial appeasement has never worked (the surrender of the Sudetenland before the Second World War merely whetted Hitler's appetite for the rest of Europe), it would likely be taken as a tacit acknowledgement that Israel's possession of any territory at all is illegitimate — exactly as radical Muslims have been claiming since the late 1940s. One can almost hear the rhetoric following such a surrender: "Israel has finally admitted it has no right to exist. We demand that these half measures stop, and the Jews have the good sense to leave or be killed."

Then there's the whole idea of a religious State, whether Jewish, Muslim, or Christian (or Tibetan Lamaism, for that matter). Shouldn't a State have a religion? Not in the sense that we understand "religious State." Citizens should have a religion (and must, in order to be human, if we believe Aristotle), but so far as the State itself is concerned, what religion a citizen follows is a matter of personal choice, as long as the practice of that religion does not harm other individuals, groups, or the common good.

Does that mean that the State must necessarily be indifferent or even hostile to religion? That may be an even bigger mistake than having a religious State. A religious State at least acknowledges that religion plays an important role in society. A State that ignores religion or is overtly hostile, however, is refusing to acknowledge reality. Whether or not you believe that God or gods exist(s), religion's role in the civil order is to teach essential principles of morality and natural law. This is a necessary role, for no State can decide issues of right and wrong on its own authority, or it ends up, essentially, making up its own standards against which to measure its own actions.

Whether you call the natural law the general consensus of all mankind rooted in human nature as to what constitutes "the good," or you believe that human nature is a reflection of a divine nature, and thus constitutes "the good," the natural law is as close as humanity is going to get to an objective standard of morality, and thus "right" and "wrong." A State that rejects a sound understanding of the natural law, or even the concept of natural law itself on the grounds that it is derived, ultimately (as is the case with all law) from religious belief, makes a serious mistake, and undermines the basis of and justification for its own existence.

Where does this leave Israel? Is there no hope at all for peace?

There is a great deal of hope for peace, if those involved in the process can learn to think beyond the parameters that have been imposed on the discussions. The Abraham Federation represents a well-thought-out solution to the situation in the Middle East, and warrants serious consideration by people interested in a "win-win" proposal instead of the usual "win-lose" scenarios that end up a loss for all concerned.