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Today’s blog thoughts come in answer to a question left by Rebecca B., on my Facebook page, “I would like to know where you stand on the Israel/Palestine conflict, please.”

My answer:

De-escalation of any conflict must start with an understanding that each side has legitimate concerns, and no side has a monopoly on fault. We never really just have two sides, either. The last really positive negotiations were at Camp David, in 1978, but for his part, his own military assassinated Prime Minister Anwar Sadat. On the Israeli side, Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated for his part in negotiating the Oslo Accords. Peace is difficult to impose from outside. Our attempts to do so in Syria just made things worse. We’re still waiting to see the final results of the Israeli election, but it would be helpful if a less nationalistic leadership took charge. It would also help if the Palestinians could send Hezbollah packing. Peace requires two sides that each want peace, and we aren’t there yet. In 1972, less than a year before the Yom Kippur War, I spent two weeks in Israel, and was able to hike and hitchhike in ways that would be impossible today, especially in the West Bank. My number one impression was about how small the place is. There simply is no space to get the belligerents away from each other. Israel is our friend, but there are times when the best thing a friend can do is practice tough love. There are no easy answers here, Rebecca. It is very tough to negotiate with a leader who suspects he will be assassinated if he yields to what you want him to do.

Rebecca had a follow-up question: “Ive just been informed that you are an evangelical protestant. So, Im wondering if you are on board with the whole Zionist movement?”

I consider myself an Evangelical Protestant, but I I’m not part of that wing that rattles sabers for Zionism. I do support Israel’s right to exist. I do not believe that the Church has replaced Israel in God’s promises. I believe God has and will continue to be active in the situation, but it is not my job to accomplish His will there. He can take care of that. I also believe God loves people on both sides, many of whom are suffering. I should also love those on both sides, and do what I can to alleviate the suffering.

Q: Do you support Palestines right to exist as well? As a free and sovereign country?

A: Oh, yes. A two-state solution would be ideal. How to get there is the conundrum.