Thursday, January 08, 2009

Let the Pope preside over Jerusalem

It is time the world faced the reality. There can be no peace in the Middle East as long as both sides maintain mutually exclusive positions regarding the status of Jerusalem. Without sovereignty over this city, Palestinians will never have a ‘viable’ Palestine. For Jews, it is the indivisible capital of Israel, and sovereignty is non-negotiable. ‘Land for peace’ goes only so far: Gaza may be negotiated away, parts of the West Bank may be yielded, Jerusalem may be religiously quartered, but sovereignty over the land is inviolable.

For the Jews, it belongs to the descendents of Isaac. For the Arabs (and most of the world’s Muslims) it belongs to the descendents of Ishmael. It is the most fought-over strip of land in the history of the world. Yet ‘an eye for an eye’ has become ‘an arm and a leg for an eye’, and the injustices are being compounded with injustices, and the human toll is becoming intolerable, if it were not already so.

There can be no political solution to this dispute until there is a theological solution. There will be no peace in the world until there is peace between the world’s religions.

Cranmer recently referred to four possible solutions (Plans A-D), and the hopelessness of each.

Well, His Grace has a cunning plan (which may be called ‘Plan E’).

Why not invite the most respected theologian on the planet to intervene?

Since the descendents of Isaac and those of Ishmael have not managed to come to an agreement over millennia of bloodshed and disputation, give the Pope Jerusalem, and he can govern it through a neutral administration, ensuring that both the Jews of Israel and the Muslims of Palestine obtain justice.

Yes, Cranmer knows this has been tried before, and there will be the inevitable echoes of the Crusades, but this time the Pope shall not send his legions to rape, murder and pillage, or to liberate (depending on one's point of view), but be invited by the governments of both Israel and Palestine.

He could travel intermittently to the region, ministering to the Jews, the Palestinians, the Syrians, Jordanians and Egyptians. He could skilfully craft his message to suit the sensitivities of their histories, geographies, ethnicities and theologies. He could assist in negotiating bilateral treaties between each of these states, concerning land, economics, rights and religion, and it would be incumbent upon each state to eradicate their respective anti-the-other groupings.

The Holy Land might then cease being the unholy mess that it is, and become a land flowing with milk and honey as was intended. The ‘People of the Book’ could share it, nicely.

The Isaac-Ishmael dispute most certainly has a theological solution, and it centres on the term ‘promised son’, which is used in the Torah, the New Testament and the Qur’an. Cranmer has a thesis, but this is a mere blog (albeit one of manifest intelligence and erudition), and the details of the theological nuances lie in a myriad of footnotes to which this medium is not conducive. But essentially all of these sacred texts agree that Abraham was promised a son, and that Isaac was that son (Gen 17:15-21; Heb 11:17; Js 2:21 cf. Surah 11:69-73, 37:112-113, 51:24-30), because he was conceived miraculously. It becomes more interesting when one considers that Ishmael (Isma’il) is never named in the Qur’an as the son Abraham offered to sacrifice. The references are, at best, ambiguous. Herein lies the beginning of a credible theological solution to an intractable political dilemma.

The Jew Jesus taught that our enemies are our neighbours and that neighbours should be loved. He also taught that we should do good to those who hate us, and turn the other cheek.

Cranmer doubts there will be many conversions on the road to Damascus; he is not deluded that transformation will be instant, but real transformation is internal, and this involves the changing of hearts, not the manipulation of minds.

Cranmer can think of no better solution to the Israel-Palestine problem than religio-political mediation. And it would be preferable to have a credible, theological heavyweight do this (His Holiness) than a superficial lightweight who knows little (Tony Blair). Pope Benedict XVI understands Islam for he is a studied theologian; Tony Blair understands Islam inasmuch as he has read the Penguin edition of the Qur’an and had talks with the MCB.

Then let the world hear the response of Iran and MPAC to the wisdom of His Holiness, and then we shall see a turning point in the propaganda war, and the light of truth of history and theology might even become self-evident.

24 Comments:

Blogger Dungeekin said...

Your Grace

I have to say that on this occasion, I disagree with you - not on the principle, but on your choice of theocrat to mediate the dispute.

Leaving aside the fact that the current Pontiff is, in my opinion, a cretinous and divisive throwback to earlier days of religious intolerance - as I see it, the Holy Roman Empire is hardly likely to be popular.

As the ongoing battles prove, religions in general (and Islam especially) have long memories. I can't imagine the Pope being recognised as an authority in mediation given the history, despite all concerned being 'people of the Book'.

I do agree with you, however, that mediation based on religion, rather than pure diplomacy, may be more effective. Perhaps some form of group theological mediation might work? A committee, if you like, including moderates from all the religions in the region. Amazingly, I think something like that was even suggested by Tom Clancy, of all people.

Regards

Dungeekin

8 January 2009 at 09:34  
Blogger Alfred the Ordinary said...

The Pope given real political power? Wasn't that tried once before? Didn't it lead to the bloodletting of the 15th - 17th centuries before his power was boxed up, hopefully once and for all?

8 January 2009 at 09:53  
Blogger Christian-Jedi-Alliance said...

His Grace speaks with gracious humility and wisdom. I can fully appreciate what He is saying and it does in fact bring tears to the eyes, but so does a certain vision I have involving a surgical procedure which involves a Pineapple. But this is probably due to my lack of faith, and the only thing to do is pray.

All Gods of all religions will not be happy with the way we are tearing each other apart: innocent little babies are being shredded alive by evil weaponry, and high minded fools with hearts of ice maneuver themselves subjectively. But The strange thing is that the three main participants in this war of hate all claim to worship the very same God.

But nobody wants to talk peace, not real peace. We all beg to differ over who has the truth about what God would like us to do and believe, but nowhere does He say we are to shred up our little babies as a way of negotiation. We are each as bad as the other, and this is going to be an endless and recurrent cycle that we will be forced to face over and over until we learn the divine lesson.

There are, of course, the prophecies about end world events and the apocalyptic catastrophes, but don't any of us use these as excuses for the slaughter of innocent souls, such things are not for us to discern and implement.

The physical world, and the flesh takes care of its self in a continuous cycle of birth, death, and genetic rebirth, but the creation of a soul is unscientific in human terms, and its divine nature means that not one sparrow falls to the ground unnoticed. War and terror on this scale has a cumulative effect of a high and serious nature on the human soul.

Maybe the life span of the Sun is a hint about how long things are expected to take, and there again maybe not. It wouldn't really take much to turn it all around, but there is so much ignorance and stupidity to over come before this can happen, I fear there will be war and terror for many many days before we wake up.

8 January 2009 at 11:35  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

An interesting and imaginative idea Your Grace, though I daresay His Holiness has enough to occupy his mind at the moment.

Any political or theological solution is not going to work while the wild men of Islam have sway, supported by states such as Iran.

It doesnt take much to disrupt any modern state, perhaps only a tiny percent of the population if these malcontents are backed up by money and technology.

8 January 2009 at 11:41  
Blogger McKenzie said...

God promised never to flood the world again. The responsibility, and now the power, for our own destruction is in our own hands. I care, and I like to think so do we all. But it is in our hands, what ever the hell this means I am not sure because we a such a bunch of ass holes, its not looking good is it?

8 January 2009 at 11:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very sound idea. BUT in a confused situation even the smallest minority can carry the day with a strongly held uncompromising view, expressed volubly and forcibly. I suspect the only acceptable option for the Likudniks and their fellow travellers is a 100% Jewish Jerusalem (the Christian Quarters being a temporary inconvenience) and a 'Greater Israel' (encompassing Gaza, the West Bank and possibly the Golan). It may take another century to get there, but after two millennia what's another 50-100 years or so?

8 January 2009 at 11:55  
Anonymous John Reid said...

Looks like the Vatican do not think like his Grace. below are links to two news items worth reading.

http://www.vaticannews.com/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1107587/Israels-fury-Vatican-labels-Gaza-big-concentration-camp.html

8 January 2009 at 11:56  
Blogger Finches said...

Alfred, the Pope had "real political power" into the mid-19th century. He was the civil ruler of the Papal States which, although intermittently occupied by Napoleonic France, included cities such as Rome, Florence and Bologna. Up until the Lateran Treaty 1929, Catholics were forbidden under pain of excommunication from participating in Italy's elections, ensuring that the only people who voted were either non-Catholics, liberals or anti-clericals.

8 January 2009 at 12:05  
OpenID britologywatch said...

I think you are right, Your Grace, that Jerusalem will need to become a neutral city. My own version of your proposal is that it could be some sort of international protectorate whose security was assured by a rotating force of personnel from Christian, Muslim and other countries; as well as being the capital of a combined state of Israel-Palestine, which could be called the 'Holy Land', indeed. This would be a sort of 'one state / two nations' option, as opposed to a 'two-state' option.

I do, however, share the scepticism of some of your commenters about whether the present pope could mediate your solution or any other solution, at least under the present circumstances. Isn't the theological solution you evoke ultimately predicated on a unification of humanity per se under Christian faith? This has to be the ultimate hope of all Christians and is consistent with the (Christian) biblical vision for the final days. Clearly, any Catholic-Christian effort to drive a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian (or, in your view, Judaic-Muslim) conflict, and to assure a neutral Jerusalem in which the claims of all three Abrahamic faiths could be mediated, would evoke the suspicion of Muslims and Jews alike that the Church was once again trying to impose a vision of the supreme truth of Christianity; and that it believed it was the possessor of the true understanding about the significance of the mythic and historic events that all three religions' scriptures describe.

The obstacles appear insuperable. However, as a Christian, one has to hope and pray for a miraculous change in people's hearts. And maybe Catholic faith and the mediation of the / a Pope will be involved in the eventual resolution. But the term of that hope could not just be 'long-term', in our time-bound perspective, but eternal - the new Jerusalem that is to be hoped for being not only the earthly one.

8 January 2009 at 12:27  
Blogger The Half-Blood Welshman said...

It would have the relative merit of uniting the Jews and Muslims.

Shame they would be united against the Christians, but it might be a start at least...

8 January 2009 at 12:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From David Lonsdale

Your Grace,
The future of Israel has already been shown to us in the Bible. There are more prophesies on the subject of Israel than any other subject. All the prophecies regarding the expulsion of the Jews from Israel, the centuries of persecution at the hands of the Gentiles and their return to Israel have been fulfilled.
There are still a significant number still to be fulfilled now that the Jews are back in the promised land of Israel and none mention an accommodation with their enemies. Indeed, we read that armies will come against them and surround them threatening to destroy the Jews, but that God will intervene and destroy those armies. The Bible says that it will take 8 months to clear the bodies.
There is a reason why this piece of land is the most fought over in World history. There is a reason that God has preserved the Jews as a race with the same belief patterns since the time of Moses. Secular men, such as those in the BBC and CNN do not want to admit that God will do as he said regarding Israel but we know better.
It did occur to me that you may have written this article with tongue in cheek. You will be aware that there will be a union between the Harlot, a one World religion, and the Beast, a one World government. Perhaps this is an attempt to hasten the day.

8 January 2009 at 13:17  
Blogger len.allan said...

Your Grace , with all due respect, this is the worst idea I have ever seen on your website!
The whole concept of catholicism is unbiblical.
Your Grace you have indeed stepped in where angels fear to tread!

8 January 2009 at 13:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to say, but your idea has been overtaken by events:

"Israel 'astounded' as Vatican labels Gaza 'one big concentration camp'" - from Daily Mail website

Still, it was an interesting thought for a few brief hours.

8 January 2009 at 14:48  
Blogger dizzyfatplonka said...

When God created the Earth he saw it was good, there is no plot of land any more Holier than another.

Good on the Vatican for declaring the truth, I think the World is getting tired of their liberties and freedoms being eroded to protect one Clans interests.

8 January 2009 at 15:23  
Blogger Alfred said...

Finches, I appreciate your correction.

8 January 2009 at 16:56  
Blogger McKenzie said...

Does anyone know where I can find the Blue Fairy?

8 January 2009 at 18:10  
Anonymous דניאל said...

A stupid idea if ever I heard one. The Christianisation of Jerusalem goes against the state of Israel as a Jewish homeland and against the prophetic teachings of scripture.

Furthermore it would be inappropriate for religious group that was opposed to the creation of the state of Israel in the first place to take control of Jerusalem.

May I also remind you that the holy city did not belong to the Palestinians (a people who did not exist until after the 1967 war when they ceased to be known as Jordanians and became refugees later to be called Palestinians) before the Israelis took control in 1967 but was occupied by Jordan whose troops would take pot shots at Jewish children on their way to school. But I suppose terrorism is no decent excuse for retaliation (for those too thick to understand I was being sarcastic).

8 January 2009 at 23:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There will be no peace in the world until there is peace between the world’s religions.

Quite so, however that is not the point.

I contend that the worlds religions are far more UNITED at the top, especially the VERY top, then you or many could possibly imagine.

It is the people at the bottom and most of the way up who are divided by religion.

The people at the top may or may not understand their Bibles, however they certainly dont live by its word.

But they do understand what it is really all about much better then the common people do. Which is why they are where they are and why we are where they very much intend to keep.

In general this is how it works.

The Islamic establishment repress their own, by making up points of conflict with their perceived enemies. While the Christian Jewish and Hindu establishments do the same to their own people.

Both establishments therefore keep control over their citizenry and keep forever more easily rich on their broken backs.

Of course not any of these above establishments liked Jesus in particular on the above subject, especially The Roman Empires Church. Because the silly chap insisted on telling ordinary people about these types of things.

So that must make me very silly indeed, as I do not have as important a daddy, to help bail me out. So best I shut up.

Atlas

9 January 2009 at 01:15  
Blogger Theresa said...

Interesting idea, though I don't think it would be taken up. Then again, there's a similar arrangement for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where all the different Christian religions have their own wee spot, but the guy who has the keys for the church is a Muslim from the Joudeh family; they have kept the keys for the church for about a thousand years. Just the moving of a chair can cause a riot (and there have been several) and there's also a ladder that has been balanced against a window for about 100 years for some reason. A couple of years back there was a big riot in the church and the keeper of the keys locked it for a couple of days. It reminds me of that habit that some have of guarding their pew with the strategic placing of a handbag, though as one lady confided to me, 'When you sit in the same seat all the time, you're getting old.'

9 January 2009 at 01:44  
Blogger Bryan said...

Has You Grace been reading the Good Book?

The unification of religion will come about in due course, and a world leader will bring peace to the Middle East, soon... For three and a half years, anyway.

9 January 2009 at 02:36  
Anonymous Voyager said...

I do not believe theological knowledge is what motivates violence in the Middle East. I think demographics are the key.

Just as Germany had a burgeoning birth rate pre 1914 and pre-1939 so the Muslim world has a huge output of unemployed youth and pregnant girls...Gaza like Kosovo has a rate of 27/1000 whereas Britain manages 7/1000 even with its highly fecund Muslim sector.

The simple fact that some families in Gaza and on the West Bank have become incredibly wealthy using Irredentism as a red herring to occupy the unemployed - this is the same as grabbing land from white farmers in Zimbabwe - is an old old story.


Telling people that if you kill off perceived invaders you can live in luxury might one day appeal to "dispossessed" inner city whites in Bradford or Oldham.

Your Grace still regards The Koran as a religious text whereas some of us consider it a cross between Clausewitz and Mein Kampf. The reason that Europe had 30 Years War was the inability of one side to conquer.


The only solution to the Middle East along these lines is restoration of the Ottoman or British Empires since the unifying element would be hatred of the imperial occupier. The main factor in the region is hatred - hatred of each other which can only be diluted by hatred of someone else.

The West has a strange therapeutic notion that there is always a solution and some intellectual sleight of hand will bring about harmony - but some things are absolute just as Christians succumbed in Syria, The Levant, Egypt, Byzantium and vacated the region to the Muslims so in Muslim folklore will Christians cede France, Spain, Britain, Belgium to their colonising influence over coming generations as Muslim space is expanded both figuratively and literally.

9 January 2009 at 07:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

His grace goes down in my estimation - the Roman Harlot of Babylon presiding over God's covenant city? No Deal,Noel, me thinks.
Who is he working for now - Illuminati? Or come to think of it this is more like something Tony Bliar would propose
Has His Grace jumped ship and sold out? Looks like it, or just the mask is slipping. SAD

9 January 2009 at 09:35  
Blogger len.allan said...

Catholicism has truth and error so tightly intertwined, who could unravel it?.
If catholics follow the Word of God why do they need the catechism?.

10 January 2009 at 14:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Recalling the wise King Solomon's adjudication of a maternal dispute, might not the best solution be to nuke Jerusalem altogether? No holy city, no shrines; nothing to fight over.

10 September 2009 at 00:55  

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