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Land is the issue in Israel-Palestine conflict
The Israelis have been doing everything to force non-Jews to leave Israel, as a part of their plan to build a state based on religious racism. And when they are not pushing non-Jews out, they are confiscating the land prohibiting non-Jews from expanding and building homes. Once again Israel is stealing more land to build settlements around East Jerusalem. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is right to stand his ground and demand that Israel stop.
It’s not the Arabs who are defining this conflict in religious terms. It is Israel. Israel is using religion as a cover for its land theft. American Christians, especially, should see that Israel’s actions are undermining the rights of Christians. When Israel refers to “non-Jews,” they are not just talking about Muslims. They are talking about oppressing Christians, too.
The Israeli term “non-Jews” is so repulsive. It suggests that Muslims and Christians are subhuman and have no rights. As a real Christian, I can’t accept that. Even in peace, Israel should be forced to respect the rights of all people, Jews, Muslims and Christians.
Many American Christians think it is all right for Israel to discriminate against non-Jews because they hate Muslims. What they refuse to see is that many of Israel’s victims are Christian.
How can American Christians sit back silently and watch as their own are fed to the lions by Israel’s discriminatory policies. It is such unchristian behavior that it raises questions as to whether or not American Christians can be called Christian at all. Instead of protecting the rights of Christians and Muslims, the Obama administration is pressuring Abbas to surrender at the negotiating table.
That’s the same as allowing North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un to invade South Korea, take all of the land, and unify the Korean Peninsula. Why fight to prevent the North from taking all the land in the South? Giving the land to the North would end the conflict and bring about “peace.”
Peace is not peace if it is not based on justice and compromise. Peace is not peace if it results from unilateral pressures and forced concessions. Abbas must continue to demand that Israel make concessions in exchange for an end to the conflict. In reality, the conflict will not end simply by signing a worthless “Peace Agreement.” Egypt and Jordan have both done that.
Peace must be fair and based on international laws. That means Israel has to either return all of the land it occupied since 1967 and dismantle the racist settlements, like Gilo, or take an equal amount of land in Israel and give it to the Palestinians in exchange. That’s compromise.
Jerusalem must be an international city, a city accessible to all religions, not just one. Why are American Christians not standing up to defend the rights of Christians in Jerusalem? I am mystified at how easily American Christians are so willing to abandon Jerusalem, and nail their rights to a new cross.
Many Palestinians are willing to live with Israel and accept a compromise based on fairness and justice. But both sides must make compromises. Freezing settlement expansion isn’t just a Palestinian demand; it is a demonstration of sincerity that Israel genuinely wants peace.
But I don’t think Israel’s government or the majority of its people really want peace. They want everything, all of the land. They want to expel all of the “non-Jews” from that land, including Christians.
Israel must respect the rights of Christians and Muslims. Israel must show that it genuinely wants a just peace based on fair compromise. The burden is on Israelis, who occupy the seat of power in this relationship – for the time being anyway – to demonstrate that they are not using their power to impose more injustice, but rather are willing to negotiate a final end to the conflict that results in two-states – one Israel and one Palestine.
If that’s not the case, then Israel’s future is bleak. Even though Israel has the upper hand today, it won’t always. One day, if the conflict continues as it is, even nonviolently, Palestinians will take back all of the land. I just hope they don’t do to Jews what Jews are doing today to “non-Jews.” Although frankly, I think Palestinian Muslims and Christians would be far more generous to Jews than the Jews have been to them.
This conflict isn’t about religion. It is about one religion acting selfishly, and against its own religious principles, too, by taking all of the land and denying rights to “non-Jews.”
One hundred years from now, when historians look back, they won’t be wondering why Israel no longer exists. Just as time is ticking on peace based on the two-state solution, time is also ticking on Israel.
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Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania
Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com