These days the Middle East is once again the scene of bloodshed. Israeli troops are employing the most ruthless and cruel methods against Palestinians. The Israeli Army is ruthlessly bombing Palestinian settlements, shooting at children and trying to make Palestine uninhabitable. Some Palestinian radicals, on the other hand, are attacking Israeli civilian targets and spreading violence with their terrible suicide attacks aimed at women and children.
Our heartfelt wish as Muslims is for the anger and hatred on both sides to die down, for the bloodshed to stop and for peace to come to the Middle East. We oppose both the Israeli killing of the innocent and the bombing of innocent Israelis by some radical Palestinians.
In our view, the most important condition for this blind conflict to come to an end and for real peace to be established in the Middle East is for both sides to genuinely and honestly understand and implement their own beliefs. The conflict between Israel and Palestine has taken on the identity of a 'religious war' between Jews and Muslims, whereas in fact there is absolutely no reason for such a war of religion. Both Jews and Muslims believe in God, love and respect the same prophets, and possess the same moral principles. They are not enemies. On the contrary, they are allies in a world in which atheism and hatred of religion are widespread.
Based on that fundamental principle, we call on the Israelis (and all Jews):
1) Muslims and Jews believe in one God, the creator of the universe and all living things. We are all God's servants, and to Him we shall return. So why hate each other? The holy books we believe in are different, but we all abide by those books because we believe they are the revelations of God. So why should we fight one another?
2) Instead of Muslims, would the Israelis rather live among atheists or pagans? The Bible is full of passages describing the terrible cruelties inflicted on the Jews by pagans. The terrible genocide and cruelty inflicted on the Jews by atheists and unbelievers (such as the Nazis, anti-Semitic racists or communist regimes such as Stalin's Russia) are clear for all to see. The atheist forces in question hated the Jews because they believed in God, and that is why they oppressed them. Are not Jews and Muslims on the same side against these atheist, communist or racist forces that hate them both?
3) Muslims and Jews love and respect the same prophets. The prophets Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses or David are at least as important for Muslims as they are for Jews. The lands where these holy figures lived and served God are at least as holy for Muslims as they are for Jews. So why drown those lands in blood and tears?
4) The fundamental values of Israel are also sacred to us Muslims. The word 'Israel' is the name of the Prophet Jacob, who is praised in the Koran and remembered with great respect by Muslims. The Magen David (Star of David) is the holy symbol of the prophet David for us too. According to the Koran, synagogues are places of worship that Muslims must protect. (Koran, 22:40). So why should members of the two religions not live together in peace?
5) The Torah commands Jews to establish peace and security, not to occupy other lands and spill blood. The people of Israel are described as 'a light unto the nations.' As Rabbi Dovi Weiss has said:
"The Jewish people are commanded by Almighty God to live in peace with all peoples and nations on the face of the globe. Our agenda is simple It is to humbly worship the Creator at all times. As Torah Jews we are called upon to feel and express our sense of compassion when any person or group of human beings suffers." 1
If the Israelis continue to treat the Palestinians as they are now, they may be unable to account for that to God. Those Palestinians who kill innocent Israelis, on the other hand, may be unable to account for those murders. Is it not a duty in the eyes of God to put an end to the fighting, which is dragging both sides deeper into satanic violence?
We invite all Jews to consider these facts. God commands us Muslims to invite Jews and Christians to a 'common formula':
Say, "O People of the Book! Let us rally to a common formula to be binding on both us and you: That we worship none but God; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than God." (Koran, 3:64)
This is our call to the Jews, a People of the Book: As people who believe in God and obey His commands, let us come together in the common formula of 'faith.' Let us love God, the Lord and Creator of all of us. Let us abide by His commands. Let us pray to God to lead us further on the path of righteousness. Let us bring love, compassion and peace to each other and the world, not hostility, blood and tears.
That is where the solution to the Palestinian question and other conflicts in the world lies. Come, let us find a solution together. The deaths and suffering of so many innocent people remind us every day what an urgent task this is.
HOW CAN THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION BE RESOLVED?
Based on the principles of toleration and moderation we have outlined above, it is possible to solve the Palestinian question, which has caused so much bloodshed in the Middle East over the last 50 years. In our view, the establishment of peace depends on these two conditions:
1) Israel must immediately withdraw from all the territories it occupied during the 1967 war including East Jerusalem. The occupation that has existed since must come to an end. That is an obligation under international law, U.N. Security Council resolutions and the concept of justice. All of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip must be recognized as belonging to an independent State of Palestine.
2) East Jerusalem, which is home to the important temples of all three theistic religions must be administered by the Palestinian administration, yet this city should have an exclusive status. Jerusalem must be made a free city in which members of all three religions can carry out their obligations in peace.When these conditions are brought about, Israelis and Palestinians will have recognized each others' right to exist, shared the Palestinian lands, and resolved the status of Jerusalem, the subject of a great argument, in a manner satisfactory to the members of all three religions.
Our hope is that the constant hostility of the last 50 years or so, the prejudice, killing and slaughter will come to an end, that the innocent Palestinian people can secure a homeland that can provide them with the peace, security and well-being they deserve, and that Israel will abandon its policy of aggression and occupation, that wrongs its own people as well as the Palestinians, thus allowing it to live in peace with its neighbours within its legal pre-1967 borders.