Peace Process?

Peace Process?

 In most of my updates I’ve tried to avoid commenting on the Israeli/Palestinian peace process because it’s the subject that most commentators write about involving Israel, as if that’s the only relevant information concerning the nation. Nevertheless, in light of the most recent balagan (Hebrew for mess) regarding this subject, I will address it. From the beginning, a successful outcome was a long shot. However, the Bible mentions peace 249 times, encourages parties to seek peace, promises peace to Israel and foretells of a day when peace will reign over all the earth (e.g., Isaiah 2, 11). Therefore, despite the odds, peace should always be sought. Yeshua, himself, said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.”

In the current peace process both sides are playing the game of chicken. Neither side believes peace is possible but doesn’t want to be the one blamed for its collapse. Israel does not believe she has a legitimate negotiating partner. Israel’s fear is that if elections were held in the West Bank today, the current Palestinian government would be thrown out and replaced with either Hamas or some other terrorist organization. Thus, any negotiated settlement would be scrapped immediately. Even if the current Palestinian government survived, the Gaza Strip, a significant piece of “future Palestine,” is still ruled by Hamas, who wouldn’t recognize the settlement anyway.

The Palestinians believe their greatest hopes reside in international recognition through the United Nations and other international organizations. The Palestinians refuse to relinquish issues that Israel will never agree to, such as the “right of return” of millions of descendants of those Arabs who fled Palestine during Israel’s war of independence, Jerusalem being the capital of a new Palestine and borders that predate the 1967 war. The Palestinian position on each of these issues has substantial support in the international arena. Thus, the Palestinians recognize a negotiated settlement between Israel and herself will undermine these claims.

Yet, both sides have much to lose by refusing to participate in some process. The latest blowup was inevitable, and if it doesn’t lead to the process’s failure, something else likely will doom any pact. In the most recent situation, Israel refused to release the last batch of Arabs who were convicted of terrorism, including murder,  part of a 4 step release of terrorists in turn for the Palestinians to agree to join and continue the peace process. Israel refused because they suspected that once the terrorists were released the Palestinians would bypass the negotiations and seek for direct international recognition. Thus, Israel would have released hundreds of terrorists and gained nothing in return. As it turns out, Israel refused to release the final batch of terrorists, and the Palestinians, as suspected, sought and gained recognition in multiple international organizations. A wild card was introduced by US Secretary of State John Kerry when he stupidly and possibly inadvertently blamed Israel for the process breakdown during a US Senate hearing.

Sadly, both sides recognize that a Palestinian state is all but inevitable, but the process is enflamed with so much emotion, uncertainty and distrust that they seemingly cannot and likely will not reach an agreement. What Israel must concern herself with other than the myriad of security issues involved in any negotiation, is the fact that she is losing support in Europe (not all that surprising) and among important constituencies in her greatest ally, the US, those being, the evangelical Christian church and young Jews.  Since the 1970’s US Evangelical churches have been among Israel’s staunchest supporters, but the younger generations now filling the pews are questioning this support. Even more surprising is the loss of interest and connection among young Jews in America towards Israel, as recently reported in a survey of the Jewish community in the US. Unless reversed these factors portend a difficult road ahead for Israel, especially if a peace settlement is not reached soon. The Bible makes it clear that we are to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Ps. 122). Everyone loses while peace is absent.

Another Interesting Client

 By the grace of God I’ve been getting more clients, challenging me to work harder (is there such a word as retirement?).  I’ll call a recent client, Unmarried, although that’s an oxymoron. Unmarried is a naturalized American citizen through marriage. He wants to transmit his citizenship to his son. If a child is born in the US, he automatically receives citizenship. However, if he is born overseas, then it gets trickier. In Unmarried’s case, he has two children, a daughter  born in the US, but a son born in Israel. So, I asked, are you married to an American citizen. He replied, yes. I said, well then, since your children are products of US citizens, then gaining citizenship for your son is no problem. But that’s when the case got more complicated. As it turns out the children are not products of this marriage. So, who is the mother? He said, a woman in Israel, who is his real wife. Huh?

I asked, aren’t you still married to the American? Yes. But then he clarified, he married the wife in Israel only through a religious marriage, through a rabbi, but never registered the marriage with the state. Otherwise, he explained he would be a bigamist. I thought by now worrying over legal technicalities seemed to be the least of the problems. I said, but what about your legal wife, the American, doesn’t she want to be free to remarry? He said, no, she doesn’t care; she’s a lesbian. Oh my Lord! Basically, the original and legal marriage was a sham, dating back to 25 years. I said, well, now in the US she can probably get married anyway, so it could be a problem for her. He chuckled. I looked distressed. The problem with the case is how US immigration law is applied to children born abroad. If a child born abroad is the product of a legal marriage, all that is necessary is to show the US citizen is the actual parent. But if a child is born out of wedlock, the tests are much stricter, and Unmarried’s son probably will not be eligible for citizenship. I told him the only way to do this is to argue that the religious marriage, confirmed by a ketubah (Jewish marriage contract), is a legal marriage despite it not being registered with the state. He said, wouldn’t that make him a bigamist? I thought maybe Man at the Well, Slum Lord and Unmarried could form a partnership as life coaches.