The Next Fifty Years

It will take at least five decades for Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims to completely reconcile. But the seeds of peace need not wait five decades to be planted; the Divine Blueprint has already been established and its fulfillment requires only human will for immediate promulgation.

Biblical Israel encompassed both banks of the Jordan River. The Arab world — the world to the original heirs of Ishmael — remained at that time firmly ensconced within the deserts of Arabia. But Israel was never a geopolitical powerhouse. On the contrary, the House of Jacob was essentially weak in the face of more numerous non-Arab empires to its north and east. The Arabs were protected by the vastness of their desert lifestyle. The Jews were sedentary agriculturists, conquerable and eventually conquered. But the Jews were never to forsake their eminent belief in the miracles of their redemption from Egypt, their world-shattering ethical moment at Sinai, and the Davidic dynasty which built the Temple and proclaimed the sovereignty of Divine authority over the land. Israel’s historic boundaries stretched from the deserts of the Transjordan westward to the Mediterranean Sea.

The Arabs conquered the Land of Israel after their initial discovery of their own Abrahamic roots through Ishmael. But their revelation of the Muslim Divine Word (Koran) only mentioned the land’s ownership in terms of it’s Jewish claim (Sura 5:20-21). But the inheritance of the Promised Land of Abraham had been established by Divine Authority through the Torah (Genesis 17) with its famous Covenant of Abraham. The land promised to Abraham would be a land habitable to a multitude of nations, all of which were direct heirs to Abraham through his Covenant with G-d. I submit that the Arab peoples of Muslim faith qualify as heirs to that Abrahamic Covenant as Divinely inscribed within Torah.

For Muslims, the Koran is the direct speech of G-d. Therefore the Jewish claim to the Promised Land of Abraham cannot be in dispute (Sura 5:20-21). But what of a Muslim claim of ownership to the land through Torah? To my knowledge it has never been claimed in such a way. But the Torah holds no double talk or contradiction. What had been promised to a multitude of nations had indeed been promised.

The idea of an exclusive Jewish birthright to the Land of Israel is a misreading of G-d’s intention. The Jewish birthright that G-d assigns to Abraham through Sarah is indeed exclusive. But can such specificity — as the land promised to a multitude of nations through Abraham — be the same as the direct promise to Abraham through his line with Sarah? I submit that such a human interpretation places the Divine Word in a serious contradiction. Therefore, the Jewish claim of exclusive ownership of the Promised Land must be erroneous. Rabbinical judgement has been wrong. It has been a human error in understanding that the Divine Will of G-d’s Word as promised can have two contradictory meanings.

So what is the promise to Abraham through Sarah? It is certainly not land alone, because the land has already been promised directly to a multitude of nations who are all the offspring of Abraham without any specific female designation. This general promise of land would include both Sarah and Hagar (Ishmael’s mother). Genesis 17 has been Divinely constructed in such away that Jewish exclusivity to the Promised Land can be challenged. I submit that now is the time for such a challenge.

On the other hand, the Jewish Covenant — as promised through Sarah with the birth of Isaac — is the same as the birthright sold to Jacob by his older brother, Esau, for a bowl of stew. The Jewish birthright is not an inheritance of land or material possessions. Jacob later relinquished most of his possessions in guilt toward his theft of his brother’s blessing caused by his own trickery at the time of their father’s death. But the exclusive birthright of Abraham, as promised through Sarah and established through the sons of Jacob, is not material in nature. It is a spiritual covenant separate from a land covenant. It was a birthright unknowable until the events at Sinai and the later building of the Temple at Jerusalem.

The living birthright of the Jews is the Law through Torah; as offspring to Abraham, land is promised to the Jews, but their specific mission is spiritual. This mission is eventually exemplified by the very housing of the L-rd’s sacred space on earth through the building of a Temple at Jerusalem. But the laws of the Torah were what kept the Jews unified after the Temple was invaded and destroyed. At that point in history, the Promised Land was lost to the Jews as a sovereign nation. We were a people dispossessed.

The Promised Land of Abraham is both a material and a sacred place. Materially, it is promised to both Muslims and Jews — the multitude of nations promised to Abraham. But the sacred nature of the land derives from its connection to the events at Sinai and the seat of G-d’s Throne in the Temple at Jerusalem. In our time, for peace to be achieved, both sides — Jews and Muslims alike — must relinquish any claim to exclusivity to the land. This can only be done when Muslims and Jews end their erroneous claims of sole ownership. In this day and age, the Promised Land can no longer be conquered. Such a course of action has become a Divine abomination.

Peace will reign when Jews are challenged by Muslims over the true nature of the Covenant of Abraham. The Torah allows for an equal power relationship with respect to the land of Israel. The Covenant of Abraham is, in fact, a double covenant or perhaps two separate covenants. One clause pertains to land and the other clause to a Divine Birthright through the events at Sinai and the giving of the Torah (the Law to Moses), as witnessed by the Jewish people.

The next fifty years will be a test of the religiosity of both Muslims and Jews. Peace will never be achieved through the political machinations of non-believers (liberals, leftists, secular democrats, Marxists or triumphant capitalists, all of whose financial debts resemble the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah). According to Divine Plan only believers will achieve a genuine reconciliation. This will be accomplished through both Koran and Torah. It will be finalized through an affirmation by both Jews and Muslims that the future Peace of Jerusalem holds direct linkage to the biblical Covenant of Abraham. The symbol of this eventual reconciliation will be an understanding by all believers that the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem has become essential for a global reconciliation through world peace and a deepening of human understanding.

About the Author
Steven Horowitz has been a farmer, journalist and teacher spanning the last 45 years. He resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. During the 1970's, he lived on kibbutz in Israel, where he worked as a shepherd and construction worker. In 1985, he was the winner of the Christian Science Monitor's Peace 2010 international essay contest. He was a contributing author to the book "How Peace came to the World" (MIT Press).