During the world economic forum in Jordan, the BBC broadcast a discussion between an Israeli businessman and the chair of the Palestine Development and Investment Company. The Israeli wants to set up industrial parks in Gaza, and the two men agreed enthusiastically that economic development was vital to achieving lasting peace between their peoples. At the end of the broadcast, however, all cordiality evaporated as they argued over which must end first: the occupation and settlements, or the guerrilla attacks on Israeli civilians. As the BBC correspondent quickly closed the segment with a polite thank you, you could still hear the two men sounding like squabbling preschoolers yelling, "He hit me first."
The event was a parable of the roadblocks to Middle East peace. The unconverted human soul does not have the resources to abandon the blame game, practice forgiveness, and achieve genuine reconciliation. Still, the unconverted can be made to see that compromises can make life better than endless violence.
This may well be a propitious time for the Bush administration to press for compromise. With the threat from Saddam Hussein removed, and with the American presence moderating the threat from militias in south Lebanon, the time seems ripe. Failure at this point will likely ensure a long future of frustration and vendetta.
More than 50 years of Israeli-Palestinian conflict has provided a superabundance of grievances for all. But the infinite regression of blame is the path to futility. The teachings of Jesus ask us to focus on creating the conditions in the present that will work for the common good.
Supporting Peaceful Palestinians
Newsweek recently put a stumbling block in the path to peace when it suggested that the Bush administration's ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.