Middle East: Israel, Palestine, and Islamophobia

It's great that we as a country have begun to discuss the reality of "Islamophobia." It seems that a certain kind of racism against followers of Islam has been haunting "Western Civilization," since the Crusades.

I saw this up close and personally, when I was given the opportunity recently to fly to Iran, for a conference on the Middle East politics, and the Intifada. Many Americans, some of them close friends and family, had all kinds of wrong ideas about the supposed dangers of going to Iran. But the more I learned about the place, and my experiences there, helped me to realize that Islam is a sensitive, passionate, intelligent, curious religion. Most Christian Americans don't realize that Islam recognizes Jesus as a high prophet, a "Messiah", - right up there with Moses. I found it a rich spiritual connection to pray with the Iranians.

Our current Foreign Policy in the Middle East is out of balance. We are all too close with the oil oligarchs of Saudi Arabia, who run one of the most oppressive monarchies in the world. A monarchy is un-Islamic, as pointed out the revolutionary Ayatollah Khomeini, after coming to power in 1979. The Saudi monarchy denies women the right to equality - it doesn't even allow them to drive. It imprisons dissidents with long prison terms for speaking out. And yet Trump just did $100 billion worth of weapons deals with this state.

Our other great "ally" in the region is Israel, who all too often work with the Saudis on their common interests in the region. The rights of the Palestinian people to have their own state seem to be put on the back burner. This eventually will change. It has to. 

The September 2016 foreign aid package to Israel grants it $38 billion from the US, over the next ten years. In a recent poll, half of progressive and left-leaning Americans said Israel has too much influence on the US government. BDS and Black Lives Matter have recently given voice against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.


A New Path to Peace in the Middle East

There has to be a new path to peace in the Middle East: remove the massive funding from the US war machine, and it support for Zionist aggression. Fearlessly expose Israel’s and the CIA’s role in 9/11/01. End the demonization of Islam, and grant full statehood and human rights to Palestine.

We reject the cliche that assumes the Middle East will be at perpetual war for eternity.  And we do not think that the conflict between Arabs and Jews is insurmountable. Peace in the Middle East will come when all sides have an equal common need to come to the table. We must parse out the Anti-Semitism in peace, anti-war and deep state politics, while being critical of Zionist militarism.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam have their common root as "Abrahamic Faiths." May I be so bold as to suggest that humanity alone has proven incapable of finding peace in the Middle East.

What if we called in the forces of light? The traditions of Gandhi, Buddha, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bukhari, Jesus, and Martin Luther King, Jr.? What if the USA was to suggest a new kind of "peace process?" What if we appointed an new USA Inter-faith Peace Builders Team, a kind of "special forces of conflict resolution," which used the language of Islamic, Christian, and Judaic faiths, in order to restart the peace talks over Palestine? 

Nothing else has worked. We need to seek the help of a Higher Power. The USA can regain global leadership in the Middle East and elsewhere by re-gaining the moral high-ground. We must become an international leader in interfaith understanding, conflict resolution, nonviolence, and peace.