A CALL TO THE ISRAELIS
During the time while this book was being written, the Middle East was
once again the scene of conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
The Israeli army have been ruthlessly bombing civilian settlements, shooting
children, and trying to make the already tormented Occupied Territories
more uninhabitable. Some Palestinian radicals, on the other hand, are
attacking Israeli civilian targets and spreading violence with their terrible
suicide bombings aimed at innocent women and children.
As Muslims, our heartfelt wish is for the anger and hatred on both sides
to die down, for the bloodshed to stop, and for peace to come to both
lands. We oppose both the Israeli killing of innocent Palestinians and
the radical Palestinians bombing of innocent Israelis.
In our view, the most important condition for this ongoing conflict to
end and for real peace to be established is for both sides to acquire
and then implement a genuine and honest understanding of their respective
beliefs. The conflict between these two peoples has assumed the form of
a "religious war" between Jews and Muslims, though, in fact there is absolutely
no reason for there to be such a war. Both Jews and Muslims believe in
God, love and respect many of the same prophets, and possess the same
moral principles. They are not enemies; rather, they are allies in a world
in which atheism and the hatred of religion are widespread.
Based on this fundamental principle, we call on the Israelis (and all
Jews) to realize the following facts:
1) Muslims and Jews believe in one God, the Creator of the universe and
all things therein. We are all God's servants, and to Him shall we all
return. So why hate each other? The holy books we believe in are superficially
different but in essence the same, for they come from the same God. Therefore
we all abide by them. So why should we fight one another?
2) Instead of living along with Muslims, would the observant Jews prefer
to live along with atheists or pagans? The Torah is full of passages describing
the terrible cruelties inflicted upon the Jews by pagans. The terrible
genocide and cruelty inflicted upon them by atheists and unbelievers (e.g.,
the Nazis, anti-Semitic racists, or such communist regimes as Stalin's
Russia) are clear for all to see. These atheist or pagan forces hated
the Jews, and thus oppressed them, because they believed in God. Are not
Jews and Muslims on the same side against these atheist, communist, or
racist forces that hate them both?
3) Muslims and Jews love and respect many of the same prophets. The Prophets
Ibrahim (Abraham), Ishaq (Isaac), Yusuf (Joseph), Musa (Moses), or Dawud
(David), peace be upon them all, are at least as important for Muslims
as they are for Jews. The lands where these holy figures lived and served
God are at least as holy for Muslims as they are for Jews. So why drown
these lands in blood and tears?
4) The fundamental values of Jews are also sacred to us Muslims. The
word "Israel" is the name of Prophet Ya'qub (Jacob), peace be upon him,
who is praised in the Qur'an and remembered with great respect by Muslims.
The Magen David (Star of David), a symbol associated with King David is
a holy symbol for us too. According to Qur'an 22:40, Muslims must protect
synagogues because they are places of worship. So why should members of
the two religions not live together in peace?
Jews and Muslims believe in the same God. Israeli soldiers who are true believers must not forget that God has forbidden the killing of innocent people and the use of violence and cruelty, and has ordered us to be tolerant, understanding, and peaceful. |
is home to many Jewish, Christian, and Muslim holy places. All true
believers must see that love, mercy, and peace take the place of
blood, tears, and animosity in this region.
5) The Torah commands Jews to establish peace and security, not to occupy
the lands of others and spill blood. The people of Israel are described
as "a light unto the nations" in the Torah. As the "Rabbis for Human Rights"
We are told: "Justice, justice, you shall
pursue" (Deuteronomy 16:20). Why is the word justice said twice? Because,
according to our tradition, one is to pursue a just cause by just means.
In defending ourselves, we must always hold on to the prophetic vision
of decency and humanity. The survival of the Jewish people will be determined
not only by its physical acumen, but also, by its moral steadfastness.1
If the Israelis continue to treat the Palestinians as they do now, they
may be unable to account for that to God. Similarly, those Palestinians
who kill innocent Israelis may also be unable to account for those murders.
Is it not a duty in the eyes of God to put an end to the fighting, which
is dragging both sides deeper into unending violence?
We invite all Jews to consider these facts. God commands us Muslims to
invite Jews and Christians to a "common formula":
Say: "O People of the Book! Let us rally to a common
formula to be binding upon both us and you: That we worship none but God;
that we associate no partners with Him; and that we erect not, from among
ourselves, Lords and patrons other than God." (Qu'ran, 3:64)
This is our call to the Jews, a People of the Book: As people who believe
in God and obey His commands, let us come together in a common formula
of "faith." Let us love God, the Lord and Creator of all of us. Let us
abide by His commands. Let us pray to God to lead us further on the path
of righteousness. Let us bring love, compassion, and peace to each other
and the world, not hostility, bloodshed, and anguish.
That is where the solution to the Palestinian tragedy and other conflicts
in the world lies. The deaths and suffering of so many innocent people
remind us every day what an urgent task this is.
Palestinian Muslims, sincere Jews, and Christians all want peace and security
to replace this seemingly unending conflict. All of them are praying together
How Can the Palestinian Issue Be Resolved?
Jerusalem, a place holy to the three monotheistic
religions, should be a city in which people can worship together
By using the principles of tolerance and moderation outlined above, the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has caused so much bloodshed over
the last 50 years, can be solved. In our view, establishing peace depends
upon two conditions:
1) Israel must immediately withdraw from all the territories it occupied
during the 1967 war and end the resulting occupation. That is an obligation
under international law, various U.N. Security Council resolutions, and
mere justice itself. All of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip must be recognized
as belonging to an independent State of Palestine.
2) East Jerusalem, the site of significant places of worship belonging
to three divinely revealed religions, must be administered by the Palestine
authority. However, it must have a special status and be turned into a
city of peace that all Jews, Christians, and Muslims can visit comfortably,
in peace and well-being, and where they can worship in their own sanctuaries.
When these conditions are fulfilled, both Israelis and Palestines will
have recognized each other's right to live, shared the land of Palestine,
and solved the contentious question of Jerusalem's status in a way that
satisfies the adherents of these three religions.
In the upcoming pages of the book, we will deal with and analyze the
history of the Palestinian issue based upon our view outlined above. Our
hope is that the constant hostility of the last 50 years or so, as well
as the resulting prejudice, killing, and slaughter, will come to an end;
that the Palestinian people can secure a homeland that can provide them
with the peace, security, and well-being they deserve; and that Israel
will abandon its policy of aggression and occupation, which wrongs its
own people as well as the Palestinians, so that it will be able to live
in peace with its neighbours within its legal pre-1967 borders.