We believe in peace, the Heavenly, eternal kind foretold in the Bible. But couldn’t there be some peace on earth now already?
Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Yemen are hotbeds of violence. Other Middle East nations are actively exporting terror. Jews across the region have been attacked for the past century.
The anthropologist Philip Carl Salzman of McGill University (Montreal) sums it up succinctly: “Peace is not possible in the Middle East because values and goals other than peace are more important to Middle Easterners. Most important to Middle Easterners are loyalty to kin, clan, and cult, and the honor which is won by such loyalty.” (Middle East Forum, “Why There is No Peace in the Middle East,” October 14, 2017)
Many conflicts in the Muslim world are directly related to this honor of tribal loyalty. Honor is also achieved through victory, especially in victory over the Dar al-harb, the world of non-Muslims, or infidels.
The many military defeats of Arab armies who have fought against Israel were humiliating. The June 1967 Six-Day War, for example, “was not so much a material disaster for the Arabs as it was a cultural one in which honor was lost”, states Salzman. “The only way to regain honor is to defeat and destroy Israel, the explicit goal of the Palestinians: ‘from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea.’ This is why no agreement over land or boundaries will bring peace: peace does not restore honor.”
Iran’s dozens of attempts, even now, to obtain nuclear and missile technology in Germany are unmistakably intended for building bombs (we know for whom!), and to restore Persian Shiite honor.
The oft-cited accusations of Western colonialism or Israeli occupation are, in fact, not the issue. Preserving tribal honor is the root of the conflicts. And peace isn’t even relevant.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adds another perspective: “People who deliberately murder babies or blow up buses, they don’t have freedom on their minds. They’ll trample their own people once they get into power, which they do, invariably” (Fox News, “OBJECTified,” October 8, 2017). In other words, their goal is destruction, not peace.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s own Fatah Movement praises terrorist “martyrs” and proclaims to impressionable youth, “From the sea of the blood of the Martyrs we will create the State of Palestine” (Facebook, official Fatah page, October 3, 2017). Those aren’t the words of a peacemaker.
The Prophet Zephaniah declared God’s protection over the nation of Israel: “On that day it will be said to Jerusalem, Fear not! O Zion, do not despair! The LORD your God in the midst of you is mighty; He will save. He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will rest in His love, He will be joyful over you with singing” (3:16-17).
As we approach the year-end holidays of Chanukah and Christmas, these words of encouragement are our greeting of undaunted faith to our readers, accompanied by our heartfelt thanks to those who have become Givers and joined us in our tasks.