For far too long, a belief has persisted that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be solved as either two states, or one binational state. What is surprisingly often missed – particularly by Americans and Europeans – is that other models exist, such as the confederate and federal models that the United States and the European Union are built on. The author of this article grew up in New York State, not far from the State of New Jersey. Every child in the United States knows that the US is made up of 50 individual states. We also learn at a young age that the capital, Washington, DC, is not a state, but an independent district, because really, it belongs to the entire nation.
Now, of course, critical readers will immediately object that the United States is one nation, and the people are one people, irrespective of how politically divided they may be. Israelis and Palestinians are not one nation or people, and other models exist for such situations. Consider France and Germany in the European Union. How much of each other’s blood have the French and the Germans spilled over the centuries? Today, we think it is quite normal that one can travel freely from Paris to Berlin and that they could share one currency, the Euro. But this is all still very new. The bloodiest wars of the 20th century were fought between the Allied and Axis powers. Peace in Western Europe is a relatively new phenomenon.
Could something similar happen in the Middle East? Skeptics would scoff at such a proposal. Furthermore, the secular will argue that because religion is involved, it is fundamentally irreconcilable. But they are mistaken.
While religious differences have indeed been the sources of bloody wars, the reasons people really fight against each other is simply because they are different. Humans are naturally averse to those who are foreign and “other”. While theological differences between Catholics and Protestants, Sunni and Shia, contributed to bloodshed, it has always been “fear of the other” that has been at the source of hatred. Is there redemption for humanity?
The Holy Land is the nexus of the Abrahamic religions. It has been patently absurd that the attitude until now has been to plow over religions in the most sensitive religious spot in the world. Did it ever occur to anyone to consult religious scholars from each tradition? It seems like such an obvious question, but the answer is mostly no. The religious were always viewed as the obstacles to progress.
We have come to turn this on its head. It has been said that if religion is part of the problem, it must be part of the solution.
“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights.” The book of Genesis states that the Creator made man in the image of God. We are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves. The famous rabbi Hillel stated that this, in essence, is the whole Torah, “the rest is commentary, go and learn it.”
God is called in the book of Psalms “the healer of the broken of heart, who binds up their wounds.” What we need in the Holy Land, between Jew and Arab, is healing. We have cried too many tears, buried too many dead. Enough. Sulha.
We are the children of Abraham, we believe both literally, and in spirit. The children of Isaac and Ishmael must put down the swords. What is more holy, a human life or a rock? You don’t have to be a religious scholar to answer that question. It is said in Islam that it would be better for the Kaaba in Makkah to be destroyed than for the blood of one believer to be spilled. If that goes for the holiest place in Islam, so too for the third holiest place. David was not permitted to build the Temple because he had shed blood. Only Solomon, Shlomo, whose name literally means Peace, could build the Holy Temple.
The ripple effects of the children of Abraham making peace with each other will send shockwaves throughout the world.
Symbols are powerful, and we believe Abraham/Avraham/Ibrahim is that powerful unifying symbol and thread that Jews, Christians and Muslims can come together and agree upon. We are not the same, but we are most definitely related. We are families. And families can resolve their internal conflicts.
All of this could be very inspiring, but we also need a practical plan. The concept we in the Abrahamic Movement have developed is called “Abrahamic Federalism”, in short, having a federation with Abraham as its unifying symbol.
What would such an Abrahamic Federation look like? We believe that it should be a hybrid between the US and EU models, uniquely fitted to our region and circumstances. In some ways it would resemble a federation structure and in some ways a confederation structure. What this means practically is that in some ways it will be one country, the Abrahamic Federation, and in some ways two, the Jewish State of Israel and the Arab State of Palestine.
We are calling our model the Abrahamic Federation 3-2-1 Plan. What this means is that there will be certain things in the Abrahamic Federation (AF) that are divided into three, some into two, and some where there will only be one.
Let us give some examples. For “3”, there would be three flags, one Israeli, one Palestinian and one Abrahamic. Similarly, 3 anthems, Hatikvah, a Palestinian anthem, and a unifying Abrahamic anthem. There would be 3 police forces. One Israeli, one Palestinian and one joint federation professional police force. There would be three seats of government, the Knesset in West Jerusalem, an Arab Parliament in East Jerusalem, and an Abrahamic Federation Council, possibly on the Mount of Olives.
For “2”, as we said there would be two parliaments; two Presidents and/or Prime Ministers for each state; two official languages, Arabic and Hebrew (with English possibly as an additional “recognized” language). There would continue to be two seats in the General Assembly of the United Nations, just as France and Germany each have representation; and two passports, one Israeli and one Palestinian, but both under the AF, similar to how passports in the EU are both national and trans-national.
For “1”, there would be one currency and economic zone; one Federation Council, with limited powers, and a rotating chair/vice-chair every 6 months; one Abrahamic Federation citizenship; and one Bill of Rights.
There are more levels to this plan. We must also determine what will be the powers at the local, national and federation level. This is only the beginning.
We are keen to initiate dialogue on these principles and are planning to host a Virtual Abrahamic Congress.