The recent couple of weeks have been chaotic in Israel. Even though the struggle against Covid-19 seemed to succeed – new challenges have popped, in particular the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and its implications inside Israel on the relationships between Jews and Arabs.
This is not the proper place to describe the events – there is plenty of information out there. However, two specific scenes on TV have captured my attention. Both of them included civilized arguments between Arabs and Jews.
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The first argument had to do with the so-called “right” to be here, i.e., to live in Israel/Palestine and determine its characteristics. The Arab guy rightfully mentioned that Arabs have been living here for many generations, prior to the Jewish immigration into Israel during the 20th century. The Jewish guy also rightfully mentioned the ancient history of Jews in this place, also described in the Bible, explaining that Jews have merely returned to their homeland. So the Arab quoted what many other Arabs also say: What’s the relevance of a 2,000 year old text to this argument about the present?
But here is the catch: Most of the current conflict is supposedly about the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, considered “holy” by Muslims worldwide. Why so? Because of the history of the location, associated with Muhammad some 1,400 years ago. I must say: If 1,400 year old history is important, so is 2,000 year old history.
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The second argument – I don’t even remember what it was about. There was a religious Muslim Arab and a religious Orthodox Jew, and they were arguing rationally about the right solution to the conflict.
Noticed the oxymoron? There was one person believing that Muhammad rode a horse to Heaven. There was another person believing that Elijah rode a horse to Heaven. These two persons were arguing rationally about the right solution to the conflict.
It’s the Religion, Stupid.