As Putin’s war on Ukraine wages on with no end in sight, it would seem that discussing peace in the Middle East is the last thing on anyone’s mind. The world is distracted by seemingly more difficult and pressing problems. But could peace in our region hold the key to peace in the world and global stability?
It is crazy that we are even having this discussion, but there is a real threat of nuclear conflict on the horizon. It is unclear what Putin’s ultimate goal is with Ukraine, though it appears that what he wants is surrender, perhaps unconditionally. The Ukrainians have become united in a way that has surprised most of the world. President Zelensky has even been compared to Winston Churchill in his resolve to fight Russia to the bitter end. He has called for a no-fly zone to be imposed in Ukraine, but the West is reluctant to do so because it would probably mean direct conflict with Russia and the very real threat of nuclear war. President Biden has said clearly that American “boots on the ground” is not something he is prepared to do.
Ultimately, this lack of resolve on the part of the West is likely to only embolden Putin. It is frightening to contemplate it, but Putin could consider threatening the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine. It is not out of the realm of possibility. It was the nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended World War II.
“Tactical” nuclear weapons are those used not for global attacks as with ICBM’s, but to be used on the “local” battlefield. In general, the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) has kept the relative peace since the end of WWII, but it appears that we have now been thrown back into the time of the Cold War.
In all honesty, WWIII may have already begun. When Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914, no one knew that it was the beginning of World War I, then simply called the “Great War.” When Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939, it wasn’t known that it was the beginning of World War II.
Indeed, what we see are the real dangers of nuclear weapons ending up in the hands of a tyrant or tyrants. From Israel’s perspective, it only further enforces the reasons why Iran should never have nuclear weapons. The crisis with Putin should teach the West not to let up on the sanctions on Iran or the pressure put on Iran. One only needs to look at Kim Jong UN and North Korea to see the danger of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of those who might threaten to actually use them.
The truth is that Iran may already have the bomb, or at least be at the point of breakout capacity. The “nuclear umbrella” would embolden Iran, just as it has Putin, to keep using Hezbollah, Hamas and the Houthis as their proxies.
Frankly, the only way out of this for Israel is to make peace with the Palestinians. That is the way to stop Iran from threatening Israel with the bomb. Take away the conflict with the Palestinians and you have taken the wind out of the raison d’etre for Iran’s aggression against Israel. This doesn’t mean that Iran’s expansionist desires for hegemony in the Middle East will be removed, but it will allow Israel to align itself with the (relatively) moderate Sunni states in the region.
Can it be done? The answer is yes. Israel has the possibility of being a major power in the Middle East and the world as a whole, by dint of the moral force of being the heirs of the Biblical prophets.
Who could have imagined that the Prime Minister of Israel would be called upon to try to mediate between Russia and Ukraine, with the encouragement of the United States, and then flying to Berlin (!) to consult with the Chancellor of Germany. If you would have told this to someone eighty years ago, they would have simply said you were insane. But here we are, and Israel is a major world power with a great moral voice.
That voice is dulled however as a result of Israel’s continued conflict with the Palestinians. What is the solution to this problem? The answer is the Abrahamic solution.
The Abraham Accords between Israel, the UAE, Bahrain and later Sudan and Morocco, have opened up a vista that was not possible before. It is true that Palestinians viewed the agreement as an act of betrayal by the Gulf states for normalizing relations with Israel before a comprehensive and just settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is also true that the Gulf states have viewed the Palestinians as ungrateful for all of the economic support they have provided them over the years. But let us recognize that these agreements are a fait accompli. Just as there was great anger at the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt in 1979, it was eventually accepted as a reality. There is no going back.
For Palestinians, it might be worth acknowledging that one of the goals of the Abraham Accords was to stop Israel from annexing large swaths of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). And though the Emiratis also feel spurned, the ultimate goal is to help Palestinians and achieve regional stability.
The question is do we want Israel-Palestine to look more like Dubai or Damascus? Those are the options. There is great economic opportunity if we achieve an “Abrahamic” Peace deal. The Gulf states have already pledged $50 billion in investments. This is not something to scoff at. By opening up the economic market, Palestinians would become the natural business partners and mediators with the Gulf states. Ultimately, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would join in these Accords.
Imagine if Mecca and Jerusalem were united. Imagine if the Vatican joined. This is not a fantasy. Would it stop Putin? Maybe not, but it would be an incredibly powerful voice.
Western liberalism has tried to establish peace and the international order, but it hasn’t succeeded. The cynical view is that religion is a source for conflict, but in reality it is actually the opposite. The greatest calls for the sanctity of life have come from from religion and the notion of man created in the image of God.
What we need is a worldwide spiritual revolution. Nothing less. Unlike the atheist Communists, Putin claims to have a positive attitude towards religion. He must stop the killing. And if he won’t, like all tyrants he should pay with his life. Putin’s war needs to be stopped. Perhaps only spiritual and moral unity can stop this.
And if he won’t stop this, we need to pray to the Infinite One to provide all of us with His salvation.