Most of the confusion and strife in our world arises from the fact that people, however much they claim to be acting out of good will, pursue the ideal of peace and welfare in accordance with their own personal opinions and ambitions. By nature these are rarely if ever, in harmony with the Divine instructions as enjoined by Moses and the Prophets. This of course leads to all sorts of antagonism, often turning out to be directed against Israel, the "people of the Book". In the long chain of such hostilities, the Shoah, and now the Arabs' jihad ("Holy War") against Israel point out this sad truth.
Future historians will likely describe the darkest and most shocking chapter of the 20th Century as the period when the people destined to be the royal priesthood of all Mankind were threatened with extinction. It was (and still is) this threat which forces Israelis to take up arms, diverting much of their spiritual energy into the struggle for mere existence.
Incidentally, this threat to physical survival has served to further the old Jewish aspiration towards self-fulfillment in accordance with the Divine call from Mount Sinai2. With the Shoah in Europe and the refusal of other nations to accept Jewish refugees, Jews were left with no choice but to return - legally or illegally - to the Land of their Fathers as the shelter for physical survival and base for spiritual renewal.
Dr. Theodore Herzl may have realized that such "circumstances" would enforce this return when he told the First Zionist Congress in 1897: "Within 50 years you will have the Jewish State, whether you want it or not."
In this context, the ongoing battle here in the Land of the Fathers is but a continuation of the armed resistance that began in the Warsaw Ghetto. The world seems to have forgotten that during the days of the Warsaw revolt, the Grand Mufti Amin Husseinii began to call, in the name of Allah, for a "Holy War" against the Jews; that he broadcast his call from Berlin as the Nazis' friend and ally; and that in 1946, after Auschwitz and before the foundation of the State of Israel, he forged the Arab League into an organization for all-out war against any Jewish settlement in the land of Palestine (as it was then called).
Following the Mufti's call, the Arab nations chose to fight rather than adhere to their Koran, which could have guided them "to give refuge and help to those who have been exiled and have struggled in the way of God."4 The Arabs could have granted Jews the right to settle in the country of their ancestors, even under Arab suzerainty. A convincing historical model could have been King Cyrus the Great5, to whom the Koran refers to as Dhool Qarnain.6 But instead of taking King Cyrus as an example, the Arab leaders, blinded by pride and hatred, pushed the people of Israel to the sword just at the time of their most tragic calamity.
This hostility of the Arab leaders after the Second World War is in sharp contrast to the attitude of Salah-ed-din, who suggested to the Rambam that the sage could call upon the scattered and persecuted Jews to return now - after the defeat of the Crusaders - to the land of their fathers. There is a similar contrast also to the early Turkish Empire, which welcomed those Jews who managed to escape the Inquisition.
The present battle is another example of armed resistance in Jewish history after the Babylonian captivity, the Maccabean revolt against the Greeks, and the doomed revolt against Rome. It shows that Jews go to war only when the very existence of their nation is at stake.9 Israel's will to survive concurs with King David's foundation of everlasting Zion. The peace desired by all cannot be achieved by exterminating or curtailing Zion, Zion being a mark of Man's Divine destiny.
Nor can peace be achieved by mutilating its symbol, the Star of David, as a fanatical Muslim did while Jordan ruled Hebron, when he cut off two corners of the six-pointed star on the tombs of Isaac and Rebecca:
True and lasting peace, and thus the fate of Man, "does not depend upon his ability to learn new lessons or to discover new things, but upon receiving the lessons he was taught by the prophets thousands of years ago", as an inscription at the Rockefeller Center in New York says so rightly.
The Koran, the holy book of the Muslim, pronounces this truth in a similar way. We read there:
We also gave Moses the guidance, and We bequeathed upon the Children of Israel the Book (Tanakh) for a guidance and for a reminder to men possessed of minds. So be thou patient; surely God's promise is true
(Sura "The Believers", 56,57)
And We said to the Children of Israel after him (i.e. Pharoah): 'Dwell in the land; and when the promise of the World to Come comes to pass, We shall bring you a rabble (i.e. a mixed multitude).
(Sura "Night Journey", 8,106)
Remember our servant David, the man of might... We strengthened his kingdom, and gave him wisdom and speech decisive... David, behold, We have appointed thee a viceroy in the earth; therefore judge between men justly... A Book we have sent down to thee (the Psalms), Blessed, that men possessed of minds may ponder its signs and so remember.
(Sura "SAD", 16,19,25,28)
To every one of you [i.e., Jews, Christians, Muslims], we have appointed a right way and an open road. If God had willed, He would have made you one nation; but that He may try you in what has come to you. So be ye forward in good works; unto God shall you return, all together; and He will tell you of that whereon you were at variance.
(Sura "The Table", 53)
Although the Koran also contains a number of verses rebuking Israel harshly for its sins, none of them contests or denies the nation's Divine call and Covenant. In this, the Koran remains true to its own statement that it "confirms the Book that was before it, and assures it."
This shows us, among other things, that the present hostile attitude of the Arab nations is not in congruence with Islamic teaching as represented by the Koran; it is rather the outcome of willful interpretation. Thus, the Koran itself could be of help in overcoming this hostility and reconciling the Muslim world to Israel. This in turn could pave the way to the fulfillment of one of Isaiah's grand visions:
"In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the Lord of Hosts shall bless, saying: 'Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria, the work of My hands, and Israel, Mine inheritance." (Is.19:24,25)
Thus, if we go back to the original text of the Koran, and for that matter to that of the Paul’s writings, too, and try to understand them according to their own testimonies as being in compliance with the "Book", we could see that these three books do not contradict one another, even though they ordain different rites for their respective followers. Contradictions and hostilities have arisen as a result of the ambitious stressing of some aspects, and the shunning of others. As soon as Jews, Christians and Muslims come to understand their respective books as integral parts of one Divine Truth, we could each find and play our proper part, like different members of an orchestra under one director.
As we may gather from the above quotations, the different Scriptures do not aim at any discord but rather at understanding and concord. A passage from the Jewish morning prayer which refers to the holy servants of God could serve as a leitmotif and become valid for all of us. This passage reads:
"...they all do with apprehension and reverence the will of their Creator; they all open their mouths in holiness and purity, in poesy and melody, and bless, and praise, and glorify, and revere, and sanctify, and enthrone the Name of God, the great, mighty and awe-inspiring King, holy is He... They all accept unto themselves the rule of the Kingdom of Heavens, one from the other, and give leave to one another to hallow their Creator. In gratification, with purified speech and with sacred melody, they all exclaim in unison and reverence: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory".
A pre-condition for this “exclaiming in unison” is the “purification of speech” . The present different concepts and views of holiness will have to be purified by tracing back to the original meaning in compliance with the Torah and the Prophets (whence this concept comes from) a.
This threefold “Holy”, taken from Isaiah (6:3), is generally understood as expressing the ascending -vertical- degrees of holiness. The purification of thought and speech would allow us to understand it also as adjacent, horizontally so-to-speak. That is, it could then well mean that the three great religions which came forth from Abraham’s descendants - Israel, Christianity and Islam - may, each under the guidance of its respective angel , say its "Holy", in consonance and unison with one another. This would honor, even sanctify, His Name, and put no one to shame. "Grace and truth would meet, and righteousness and peace would kiss each other."
There is no other way to peace. The "Jewish problem" is, since the days of Abraham, the problem of those who are unwilling to incorporate into their world view the meaning of Abraham's existence and his Divine call, and that of Israel after him.
In our time, this problem has assumed the form of anti-Semitism in Christian countries, and of anti-Zionism in the jihad of the Muslim countries.
These rivalries within Abraham's extended family may have been an historic necessity for the sake of the development of humanity, but they are not meant to last. They were never meant to turn into hostilities, rather, as the Koran says so aptly, the different rites were given to us so that we may compete in good works, as mentioned.
As these three religions went out from Jerusalem into the world, so do they return now, to meet physically and spiritually. It is fitting that this process is occurring in our time, when all of us must choose whether to have one world, or no world at all.
Should these religions - whose mutual antagonisms were surely not ordained from on high, but are the result of human shortcomings - bring another bone of contention into this troubled world, instead of working towards understanding and peace? If life or death, blessing or curse are put before us, we should choose life. To choose life demands right decisions and activity based upon the eternal laws of Creation and the Creator.
Life is no longer a free gift; we have to merit it. We all have to draw upon ourselves the blessing by returning to the source of life, the Creator of All.
We are told that the Lord wants to sanctify His Name by re-gathering the people of Israel into their home country, the “Land of the Fathers”. Consequently, all of us – Jews, Christians, Muslims – are called upon to sanctify His Name in accordance with this declared will of His. Jihad against Israel; and attempts to forge Israel into a nation like all the nations [read: worshipping Baal Peor on Balaam’s advice], or to convert its people to other religions, are detrimental to the sanctification of the Lord’s Name, and would be counterproductive. The result would be more strives and wars.
If we want peace, we cannot do away with the Biblical instructions or even with parts of them (as has been attempted by nihilism and atheistic Communism). Neither can peace be achieved by border adjustments or by other political devices. True, the desire for peace exists, but to create and foster a genuine love of peace, and to prepare the peoples of the world to embark on the path to that goal, we must come to understand and implement the teachings of the Prophets. Without such a religious foundation, peace treaties can easily turn out to be mere stratagems in the waging of war.