Land for Peace

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By Kerby Anderson
            "Land for peace" has become the mantra of diplomacy in the Middle East. The formula was first set forth in UN Security Council Resolution 242. "Land for peace" has become a major guideline for American policy.
            Back in 1979, land for peace was the basis of Israel's peace treaty with Egypt. Israel agreed to withdraw from the Sinai in exchange for economic assistance and a peace treat with Egypt. This may have been the only time such an agreement has worked.
Today the attempt to give land for peace has been a disaster. One need only look at the situation in Gaza to see that land for peace does not work especially when Hamas is involved in the so-called "peace process."
To understand the current conflict, consider the recent history. In September 2005, Israel withdrew its troops from Gaza and all of its 8,500 Jewish settlers. Israel did retain control of Gaza's airspace, coastal waters and border crossings.
In June 2007, Hamas violently seized control of Gaza after routing forces loyal to the rival Fatah faction of President Mahmoud Abbas. A year later Hamas and Israel reached a truce that halted the cross-border rocket attacks and ended Israeli offensives in Gaza.
By November 2008, Palestinians resumed rocket and mortar fire into Israel after Israeli incursion. On December 19, Hamas formally declared the truce over, and rocket fire on Israel intensified. And on December 27, Israel launched a fierce air offensive, and followed up with a ground offensive in January.
Charles Krauthammer says: "Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel-Gaza war is not. It possesses a moral clarity not only rare but excruciating." Consider the difference between the two. An Associated Press story on December 27 reported that, "thousands of Gazans received Arabic language cell-phone messages from the Israeli military, urging them to leave homes where militants might have stashed weapons." Israel works hard to limit civilian casualties while Hamas stores weapons in homes and mosques thus increasing the likelihood of civilian causalities.
Consider that in the last five years, Hamas has launched an estimated 7200 rockets toward Israel. Hamas does not have sophisticated navigation and so the rockets land indiscriminately in Israel. By contrast, Israel uses precision weapons that allow them to specifically target sites and thus reduce collateral damage.
Israel is committed to saving lives and preventing civilian casualties. Hamas is committed to causing the most civilian pain possible. They do so in order to get favorable publicity for their side.
Cal Thomas says: "Hamas and its terrorist cousins know how to play the public relations game. Most recently we saw it in Lebanon with Hezbollah, as we have seen it in so many other places. The terrorists operate within civilian areas so that when Israel strikes and unintentionally kills civilians, the bodies are paraded before the Western media. In some cases, in order to embellish the drama, bodies have been planted in rubble, along with a child's toy."
Hamas and Hezbollah have a very clear strategy. Provoke conflict, parade civilian casualties, and wait for world opinion to turn again Israel. If a cease-fire is called, they use it to build up their munitions for the next conflict. And they wait for world leaders to force Israel to give up more land for peace.
The current conflict in Gaza provides the best lesson. The issue isn't land for peace. Israel gave up the land and did not experience peace. The issue isn't occupation or military control. Israel gave that up as well. The issue is Israel. Hamas isn't dedicated to living in peace with Israel. It will not cease its activities until the Jews are driven from the land and there is no longer a nation of Israel.
Jeffrey Goldberg understands this. He says "I have friends in Gaza about whom I worry a great deal; I've seen many people killed in Gaza; I've served in the Israeli Army in Gaza; I've been kidnapped in Gaza; I've reported for years from Gaza."
He understands the history of Gaza and the current conflict. He is not hopeful about the future. "I think this operation will work; and I have no actual hope that it will work for very long, because nothing works for long in the Middle East. Gaza is where dreams of reconciliation go to die. Gaza is where the dream of Palestinian statehood goes to die; Gaza is where the Zionist dream might yet die."
            As a Christian I also have to consider the biblical perspective on the nation of Israel. In Genesis 12, God set forth the Abrahamic Covenant. This covenant was made to the physical descendants of Abraham. The Bible describes it as an everlasting covenant.
            The Mosaic Covenant was conditional, and the consequences of disobedience were set forth in Deuteronomy 28. These were both blessings and curses. The Jews were indeed driven from the land of Israel, and the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70.
            But the Jews returned to the land in 1948 when the nation of Israel was established. Against all odds, the nation has stood even in the midst of fierce opposition from the surrounding Arab countries (as well as internal attacks within the country from terrorist organizations).
            I believe we must stand with Israel. We should do so for political reasons since Israel is our friend in the Middle East. But we should also do so for biblical reasons. Genesis 12:3 says: "I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you." We must be a blessing to Israel, and the policies of this nation should reflect this.
            Over the next few years, there will be continuing pressure on Israel to give up land for peace. History, politics, and the Bible all give us very good reasons to reject this idea. Instead, we should stand with and support the nation of Israel.

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