This will appear the week of July 14th, 2014 in the Bernice Banner, Bernice, Louisiana, USA.

The Mid-East is once again a volcano, pressure building, waiting to explode and the tip of the volcano is once again the Israeli-Palestine zone. As I watched the Israel military aircraft hit Palestinian Hamas targets in retaliation for the murder of three Israeli teen agers I questioned if this will ever end. Then as the body of a young Palestinian who had been burned alive was shown it finally sunk in that this is the norm and the best we can hope for is a truce and only if it is controlled by a third party. My first recollection of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict was the award winning movie Exodus. The true story meant little to a very young child and once outside the Joy Theater on Farmerville’s Main Street the significance of the story was over. Then in the summer of my junior year reality really sunk in. The six day war took place and tiny Israel, surrounded by countries bent on the destruction of the country, defeated the armies of the Mid-East in just six days. We aren’t talking about a small assault; we are talking about armies from British trained Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iran and Iraq. Saudi Arabia was smart enough to stay out of the fight and even moved their fighters from Jeddah to the eastern province and thus out of reach of the Israeli air craft. Israel won the war and captured the Golan Heights and parts of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank of the Jordan River, the Sinai Peninsula plus East Jerusalem.
Ten years later I arrived in Saudi Arabia and met the true meaning of the Mid-East conflict. The word Israel was never mentioned. The term Occupied Palestine was used instead. When Israel performed some sort of military action it was referred to as Zionist aggression. After ten years living in Arabia, Iraq invaded Kuwait and for the first time in the history of the Kingdom, live television was beamed into the country; courtesy of CNN. Then as Israel came under SCUD attack we witnessed the Israeli’s present Prime Minister throw on a gas mask as missiles slammed into the country. Later, when Israel was attacked the live television cut to a picture of flowers and Arab music came across the television. Israel would not be seen on Saudi television again.
So after fifty years of seeing the glass as being half full, I now realize that the glass is really half empty. The conflict between Arab and Hebrew is not limited to this generation, or a few generations. It has been manifested over a hundred generations. The first conflict between Arab and Jew was approximately 1300 BCE when the Hebrews left Egypt. There has been conflict ever since. In 960 BCE Solomon’s temple was completed only to be destroyed in 586 BCE by invading Babylonians from the country we now know as Iraq. Then in 460 BCE Persia sent an army to restore order in Judea. Persia is now known as Iran. By 1095 AD the crusades began and continued for two hundred years. Christians and Muslims fought bloody battles over Jerusalem. Conflict continued between Muslims and Jews until 1917 when Britain defeated the Muslim Turks and took control of Palestine. By 1929 Jewish and Arab conflicts exploded in a massacre of Jews but finally in 1947 the Jewish state of Israel is formed. This land carved from Muslim territory started a series of wars and unrest up until today.
Britain had carved out a part of the territory it held and under a United Nations resolution, Israel was born. Finally after a thousand years of persecution, slaughter and destruction the Jews finally had a homeland. They were finally home and home for good. There was one problem, the land that provided the Jewish homeland was home to Palestinian Arabs and had been so for a thousand years. They were uprooted and had their own exodus. Since then the Palestinians have fought to regain what they consider to have been stolen from them and the Jews are fighting to keep what they say was originally theirs thousands of years earlier. There is no easy fix to this situation. The Palestinians want their homeland back and the United States, France and England are felt to also be at fault for the U.N. resolution that uprooted them.
Despite attempts at peace and many false starts the fact is that there is no peace in the Mid-East and at best we can expect only brief periods of calm. I am a dyed in the wool optimist but reality has set in and truly the glass is half empty.
Enter the United States and this is the only true hope for the region. We don’t need to bring in military units and we don’t need to commit forces but we do need to apply diplomacy at every opportunity. We must act as a diplomatic buffer. Our goal is single minded, keep the two sides apart and defuse potential hot spots. Then and only then is there any chance of future healing, but this is a long way off. It took 3,500 years to get to where we are today so we are looking at many generations of healing to even hope at peace where the lion will lie down with the lamb. Let us hope that the wisdom of the United States State Department will make the right decisions to keep the area calm and at least allow a tranquil life for the two diverse occupants.

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