Should there be a Jewish State exactly where it is today?

Israel iPod 2013 103
The Religious Element

My first reason in favour of there being a Jewish state exactly where it exists today, rests on a number of people well known to Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Among these legendary people are Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Esther, John the Baptist and Jesus to name only a few. All are Jewish, Biblical people.

Muslim, Christian, and Jewish believers also see them as important historical figures. The earliest, Abraham dating from around 2000 years BC.

The stories and ideas involving such giants of Middle East culture, are common ground for most of the people living in the area today. They preserve a link to the original ideas upon which these three religious cultures have been founded.

Elijah, for example, was in direct conflict with the Jewish King Ahab who, as often happens over time, had lost touch with the original tenets of his culture.

It is worthwhile remembering at this point, that Mohammed, the founder of Islam, revered and was inspired by Abraham, Moses, Elijah and Jesus, and perhaps many other Biblical figures.

And, for those who entertain religious ideas, Abraham began Judaism; Moses pulled it back together; while Elijah and Jesus sought to remind people who might be straying, of the original intentions. Mohammad also saw himself as a similar kind of reformer. It seems logical then that both Christianity and Islam are actually based upon the original tenets of Judaism. Given the reforming intentions of Elijah, Jesus, and Mohammed: Jews, Christians, and Muslims would logically see themselves, at base, as adhering to a common original philosophy, if differing on the precise understanding or interpretation of that philosophy.

And yet, judging by the situation today, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, are actually divided within themselves as to the true message of their founders. It seems to be overlooked that the prophet Jeremiah, revered by all of these religions, declared, as far back as 650 BC, that man’s relationship with God should be personal. No one would have the right, or even the necessity, to tell another what to think.

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Whilst many a tyrant has sought to overrun and oppress people through mundane physical strategies such as brute force, manipulation, or sheer population growth; these Jewish giants along with other inspirational human beings, from all corners of the globe, and all eras, have guarded and strengthened the spirits of ordinary humble souls.

While places of worship are routinely built upon legendary sites, and often usurp them, the remarkable thing about the Holy Land is that the attraction remains palpable, largely because, for the heroes and heroines mentioned, the countryside itself was their sphere of operation: hill and tree, cave, desert, river, sea and sky, and some still visible cities and towns. Thus, knowing the stories, to simply walk the land and breathe the air, is to connect in your own way with these people, who walked and performed on the very same ground.

Naturally, the very existence of so many world famous and spiritually influential Jewish people over such a large span of time, originating from the land under discussion, would mean that there must have been a supporting cast of millions more, ordinary Jewish folk, living in the area down through the millennia.

While many invaders may have fought for and ruled over the actual terrain of present day Israel in a more brutal and mediaeval era, it is a fact that, amongst all of this turmoil, a series of remarkable Jewish people created the “Holy Land” by their very existence, and made it the magical and inspiring place for millions which it is today.

Generally speaking, knowledgeable Christians and Muslims accept that the Holy Land was, first and foremost, the home of Jews who are integral to their own religions.

Interestingly, people such as Elijah, John the Baptist, Jesus and Jeremiah were all in the position where we might find artists, singers and poets today. In a world which has often been seen as corrupt, barbaric, and misled, they attempt to enlighten us and to strengthen the spirit.

And yet, many of these Biblical people were originally seen as anything from rebels to outright criminals. But now Elijah is given pride of place at the Jewish Passover Seder; Jesus, John, and many saints are celebrated throughout the year.

For me, these legendary folk provide convincing reasons why Jewish people today should have a country in the Middle East, why it should be where it is now, be called Israel, and why it is right and proper for Jews to be the custodians of The Holy Land.

Mohammad born in Mecca fled to Medina, under threat of assassination in 622 A.D. the date which marks the beginnings of Islam. Mecca and Medina remain the two holiest cities for Muslims, with Jerusalem the third, based on a miraculous event.

When you consider the number of great Jews, a few listed above, who have lived and worked in and around Jerusalem and The Holy Land, the claim of Islam upon Jerusalem as a holy place associated with Mohammed, while valid, falls into perspective.

That Mohammed ascended to Heaven on the horse Al-Buraq for a night, from Jerusalem, is impressive, but it must be remembered that he is in a large and incredible company here.

We are also talking about Jews who have gone up to Heaven in a whirlwind from Jordan. Jews who have parted the River Jordan with a smite of their mantle, drawn water from rocks, made serpents of staffs, been fed by birds, called fire down from Heaven, walked on water, come back from the dead, raised the dead, survived in the Judean wilderness, and appeared to many saints over the years. They have written psalms, proverbs, poetry loved all over the world, and which have inspired artists, teachers, individuals. All exactly where the Jewish homeland stands today.

King Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem. There is a City of David beside Mount Zion. Jesus overturned the tables here, made the blind see, the lame walk, and the deaf hear. The ratio of miraculous events which occurred in what is now present day Israel would appear to be at least twenty to one in favour of the Jews, over any other people of the world. This, supported by a cast of millions, seems a strong claim to sovereignty. Whole empires have been built on far less worthy claims.

It is appropriate that Muslims and Christians should also dwell in Israel, preserving their holy sites, sharing their common sites, welcoming and guiding visitors from all over the world.

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What is mentioned above is enough to convince me of the Jewish right to a sovereign state where it is today. But, not everyone is a believer in Biblical characters. To them Elijah, Jeremiah and all the prophets are fictional creations. The stories about Abraham and the beginnings of Judaism are made up. Moses and tablets of stone, Mohammed ascending to Heaven on Al-Buraq, are pure fantasy. To them, Jesus appearing at the supper at Emmaus, near present day Latrun, is a ridiculous fairy tale.

But there is surely arrogance in dismissing beliefs, so important to many, as complete fantasy, rather than viewing the Bible as a mix of fact, fiction, allegory, historical and poetic truth, and indeed taking the time to try and figure out which is which, while developing and maintaining an open and tolerant mind. I agree with the notion that the Bible is the most overrated, and most underrated, book in the world.

To a significant number of people, all religions seem evil and destructive because they are said to cause wars. Not only does this thinking disregard the element of personal choice involved, but it also disregards the great good to be found in religion: the solace, guidance, and inspiration. This attitude tends to lay the blame for the innate problems of human nature on perceived evil abstractions, rather than the other way around.

So, those who make decisions and recommendations about the Middle East, which might change the course of history, should be more than willing to make the scope of their research about religion and culture, and their thoughts about it public. By doing this they might convince Jews, Arabs, Christians, and the wider world that they have the right answers.

Likewise, ordinary people and celebrities, who consider themselves part of ‘the international community’ and who speak out about the Middle East, have the great opportunity and responsibility to discuss and verify the views they express on this subject, for the benefit of everyone.

The Holy Land 2012 550Next time, I will be looking at some of the interesting and, to me, surprising recorded history of the Middle East, and its relevance to the question with which I began.

To play us out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJ1BKSAMFS0

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