In their “Holy Scriptures“ all religions enthuse about peace. For 100 years, however, religions in the Middle East have contributed to war rather than peace and lived in fear of one another’s superiority. Today’s escalation, alas, also began with the question: who is allowed to pray aloud and where?
Israel can’t be defeated militarily. But why does Hamas hurl 3000 rockets at Israel, fully aware that on their side far more people will die than on Israel’s side? Such logical questions sound illogical to many people in the Oriental World. After the cease-fire we now have to think about sustainable and honorable peace.
History teaches that fear and distrust cannot be overcome by war and violence. The following question now matters: What can religions contribute to peace in the Middle-East in a quite concrete and practical way?
The central virtue of the three Abrahamic religions is in the same manner, mercy. And there is a huge and unexploited peace potential. The common basis of Judaism, Christianity and Islam means: understand rather than condemn, reconcile rather than annihilate, love rather than hate. Empathy is the only way to peace. But it doesn’t work, perhaps not yet?
In his book “100 Years of Middle East Conflicts – Honorable Peace“ Gottfried Hutter, psychotherapist, theologian, political scientist and expert on the Middle East with long-lasting contacts to important personalities from politics and all religions in the Middle East makes a new and surprising peace proposal, which at first sight seems Utopian but nevertheless realizable: Israel’s controversial settlements in the West Bank are a chance of peace!
Utopian, unrealistic, crazy? At the moment, just a vision.
All wars ended sometime. Why should that not be possible in the case of today’s war between Israel and Palestinian Hamas?
100 years ago, nobody would have anticipated German-French Friendship. Yet it has existed for quite some time now.
When Willy Brandt was prepared to recognize the Oder-Neiße border between Germany and Poland, CDU and CSU were at first strictly opposed to it. Here, as well, what had seemed impossible was realized. According to Brandt, these former German territories had de facto been part of Poland since 1945 and we Germans didn’t lose anything by recognizing the facts, which finally convinced the Conservatives, and Helmut Kohl could renounce the former “German Territories in the East” in favour of German reunification. You might say Kohl gave them to the Poles “as a present”. And in return we Germans received unity “as a present”. Both sides profited from reasonable politics. Palestinians and Israel could act alike. Palestinians offer Israel recognition of their state and Israel agrees to a Palestinian state. Both sides would have won, because on this basis honorable peace could be concluded. These suggestions were made by Gottfried Hutter, experienced trauma therapist, who knows how to address traumata on both sides. Israel‘s Prime Minister Netanjahu would have to apologize before the UN, i.e. the whole world, for taking Arab land in 1948, but could at the same time ask for understanding that the Jews, after 2000 years of exile and after the Holocaust, had had no option. That is to say: Israel‘s Prime Minister should take the first step and the Arab world could say: There is enough land for both of us. Cooperation is better than aggression. Some of my Arab friends say: We understand such language. We are waiting for it.
So why should two states not co-exist peacefully? Israel with an Arab-Palestinian minority and neighbouring Palestine with a Jewish minority, today’s Jewish settlers?
The controversial minority of Jewish settlers in the West Bank in particular now offers a realistic chance to transform the whole West Bank including the Jewish settlements and Gaza into a new Palestinian state. This would finally mean a political balance between Israel and Palestine with a chance of prosperity for everybody.
How about post-war Europe? After 1945 economic cooperation was the basis of prosperity and political cooperation. This was the incentive. So Palestine and Israel and their respective minorities could cooperate economically and invite other Arab countries to a Middle-East Community, a Middle-East Union – with the aim of creating peace and prosperity. Based on the model of the EU and in close cooperation a new economic miracle could come into being. Willy Brandt and Egon Bahr demonstrated how it works.
Of course, pragmatic and confidence-building measures should be taken at the beginning, similar to overcoming the Cold War in Europe a few decades ago. On the issue of water supply Israel could with its desalination plants grant Palestinians as much water as a Jewish person. Or guarantee electricity supply from Israel and Egypt to the Gaza Strip. As a beginning.
Reconciliation and peace must be the aim, perhaps controlled by UN Blue Helmets for a while, with the three Abrahamic religions playing a central role. Since these religions are based on values such as love, peace and mercy. This vision, which millions of people of all religions in the entire Middle East are longing for, should be represented in a sustainable, trustworthy and communicative manner. Perhaps a woman like Angela Merkel, who thinks from a peace perspective rather than war and will have the time from September 2021 on. Or a man like Mikhail Gorbatchev, who over 30 years ago had the courage to take the first step towards disarmament.
Wise politicians and religious leaders in Saudi Arabia also hope for this vision – as demonstrated in his book by Gottfried Hutter, who has maintained contacts to all sides for many years now. Growing peace in the Middle East could thus become the key to world peace.
Politics in the Middle East has so far lacked visions. Above all, the impact of religions on peace in this region has been overlooked by the USA in all negotiations. History after 1945, however, teaches us that even the lowest point in this conflict can be the beginning of reconciliation in a new era. Peace is always and on principle possible. Alleging the contrary is ideology, unhistoric and inhuman.
Another trauma therapist, German-Iranian Nossrat Peseschkian, founder of positive psychotherapy, once said: “Whoever wants to have something that he has never had before, must do something he has never done before.“ Only that will make peace between Palestine and Israel possible. .
Today’s visions are often realities of tomorrow. The secret of success means: forgiveness rather than retaliation.