With the recent passing of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, the blame for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was assigned to the easy target – Israel and the “illegal settlements”. However, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is essentially a religious (Muslim-Jewish) conflict that greatly predates the settlements in question. The main cause of the conflict is Islam’s historical antagonism toward Jews, which is rooted in the Quran. The governing Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and their misguided supporters and sympathizers, including the Security Council and proponents of the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, accuse Israel of being responsible for the conflict by illegally building settlements on Palestinian land, ignoring the fact that Palestine was the land of the Jewish people long before Muhammad came along. There never has been a Palestinian state. The state of Israel was established by an act of the United Nations in 1948 as a permanent homeland for the Jewish people who had recently experienced the horrors of the holocaust. However, Israel was (and remains) surrounded by hostile Arab nations, who promptly invaded the new state, intending to wipe it out. They were successful in driving out the Jewish inhabitants of East Jerusalem, annexing the biblical and ancestral Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria and renaming it the West Bank. Another broad attack intended to eliminate Israel as a nation was launched by Israel’s Muslim neighbors in 1967. Again, the Jewish settlements were not the reason for the anti-Semitic aggression, because they did not yet exist. The Israelis counter-attacked, and in just six days, defeated the forces of the aggressors (Egypt, Syria and Jordan). In winning the Six Day War, Israel also won control of conquered territories, including the West Bank, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula. The Sinai Peninsula was later returned to Egypt. The governing Palestinian Authority, along with other Muslim countries of the Middle East (notably Iran, which is getting dangerously close to developing nuclear weapons, notwithstanding the ill-conceived nuclear agreement with the U.S.) continue to refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Palestinian President Abbas has stated that he would never sign a deal that required recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and in 2015 Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei warned Israel that it would be destroyed within 25 years. Israel needs to maintain control of much of the remaining disputed territory won during the Six Day War in order to have defensible borders in the face of such hostile neighbors. Palestinian Muslims who wish to live peacefully with Jews are free to do so in Israel, and many do. However, the sad fact is that no Jew would ever be allowed to live in peace in any Palestinian state. Indeed, the Palestinian Authority is increasingly inciting violence against Jews, and Jew hatred is openly taught in Palestinian schools and promoted on Palestinian TV. Under the current circumstances, the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel (the so-called “two-state solution”) would, I fear, provide additional means for fanatical Muslims in Palestine and elsewhere to effect their goal of the elimination of Israel. Israel needs and deserves our support more than ever.
Robert Keith's work focuses on the healing of mental illness, particularly where such illness has been fostered by fundamentalist religion. He and his wife have raised four children. As a family, they were always open about Robert’s own struggles and their individual spiritual journeys. Robert is now semi-retired but continues to offer spiritual counseling.