Who Will Build the Roof of Zion?

The House of Israel remains incomplete. Without peace the Jewish people will always be wanderers in search of a permanent justice, for themselves and for their neighbors. Israel lies adjacent to the very heart of the Islamic world. For the Roof of Zion to be built Judaism and Islam must share a definitive understanding as to their theological construction as brotherly religions with a singularly unique ancestor — Abraham.

A house without a roof can never become a true home. Israel needs its neighbors as its neighborhood needs Israel. But there are forces opposed to both Israel and the freedom inherent in a Judaic-Islamic reconciliation. These forces not only deny the long-held suffering of the Jewish people, but they insist that there is no Divine connection between the Jews and both Jerusalem and Judea. These forces oppose not only Judaism, but Islam as well.

There is a horrible false Islam afoot in the world today. Its banner is displayed by both Shiite and Sunni alike. If it could, it would destroy the roofless House of Israel, even if it had to sacrifice millions of Muslims along the way. Many in the Sunni Arab world understand that such extremism is an affront to the very speech of Allah. However many others would choose either to destroy the incomplete Jewish state within their midst, or perhaps even to cooperate with a power outside the Arab world to achieve the same end.

It is at this crossroads where Israel stands today. Peace has never been closer, but its neighborhood has never been in such a state of turmoil and fragility. The Arabs need the Jews to help construct a healthy and viable modern economic and political neighborhood, and the Jews need the Arabs to help them build the Roof of Zion. However, the Middle East continues to suffer from the consequences of its quest for modernity and democracy. Power politics from the continually divided continent of Europe has once again turned the region of the Middle East into a geopolitical playground for the machinations of proxy war and blind destruction.

European nations have been at war with each other for over a century. The Americans and NATO have been at the very center of this war since the conquest of Nazi Germany in 1945. In fact, the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the US (and its allies) has now morphed into a second stage of conflict involving the Russian Federation’s search for a secure and stable European security architecture. The problems of the Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and potentially Estonia and the Baltic states are currently being played out in the Syrian civil war.

Russia will simply not stand pat for US-NATO hegemony on the European continent, and it has once again sought out the much weaker Middle East to gain leverage over the US and its allies within the region. Moscow continues to use Iran as its proxy in the fight against the Sunni majority in Syria. The Arab Sunni world is at risk not only of complete collapse, but also of subjugation to a Shiite alliance system which, along with help from the Palestinians, could eventually topple Jordan and severely endanger the Gulf states themselves. The US will have to make a stand soon or risk permanently losing its position within the Middle East.

But under the leadership of Barack Obama, the US appears hamstrung. If it escalates in Syria it risks a serious confrontation with Russia. However, if the US continues on its current path (fiddling while Aleppo burns) it risks a dramatic tilt toward Moscow by the Sunni Arab states. Russia is playing a serious game of geopolitical hard ball in the Middle East, and all of America’s allies across the region and the rest of Asia are watching intently. The world is on the cusp of a serious military escalation.

Iran is an existential threat to both Israel and all the Sunni Arab states. Israel, Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia must construct a pathway toward regional stability, economy and modernization. Such a pathway will certainly defeat the extremists and render the region free from the myriad forms of imperial penetration rampant throughout its history. No state within the regional system must ever fear for its survival. In order for this pathway to be built, Russia and the European NATO nations must be strongly encouraged to solve their own problems on their own continent. Some form of incorporation of their mutual defense establishments into an all-European structure must certainly be the way forward.

Within this broad context of regional solutions as the initial precedent toward peace, Israel must acknowledge its hegemony in Middle East on nuclear weapons. At the same time, all the Sunni Arab states need to admit that the old armistice lines of 1949 are conventionally dangerous, unstable and counterproductive. For Israel to ever agree to a Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone, its conventional security must be assured through its own armed forces and by its own strategic depth. In order for Israel to ever agree to the necessity of a region free of nuclear weapons (and all weapons of mass destruction), it must possess a form of shared sovereignty on the West Bank. All Arabs know that, without the West Bank and nuclear weapon hegemony, Israel becomes a near defenseless entity.

However, the Middle East is quickly moving in the direction of nuclear weapons proliferation as the states of the region realize that the Iran nuclear deal was negotiated as nothing more than an interim stopgap. Without a dramatic regional approach to nuclear weapons, conventional stability and peace, the next decade will bring nuclear insecurity to a region already saddled with near chaos, imperial devastation and death. Israel, the Sunni Arab states and Turkey must confront the prospect of a failed region with a blueprint for nuclear disarmament, peace and economic promise.

Who will build the Roof of Zion? Not Hamas or the PLO with their plans of “temporary truce” and “phased struggle”. After one hundred years of violence and death, Israelis and Zionists can easily distinguish between the truth or falsity of Palestinian intentions. So too can the other Arabs of the region. On the other hand, peace will not come through annexation or conquest by Israelis bent on a redemptive process that ignores the theological understanding that the Promised Land is not solely owned by any particular people. On the contrary, the Land of Israel is owned by Divine Authority. It is a possession of a peaceful G-d whose great hope is that all people walk with their L-rd and follow in the ways of peace.

So who will build the Roof of Zion? Israel, Turkey and the Sunni Arab states will set the stage for a regional Zone of Peace leading also to an alternative Israeli-Palestinian paradigm. Jerusalem will become the capital of two states within the geographic dimension of the original League of Nations Mandate for Palestine (Israel, the West Bank and Jordan). This area is simply too small for three states to exist with any kind of viability or normalcy.

This regional anti-nuclear endeavor will, by necessity, work to replace the old half-finished construct of a West Bank Palestinian state. This concept was designed at Rabat and fudged through Oslo to eventually render Israel ripe for naked aggression. This is precisely why this concept has led nowhere in the last twenty-three years. Palestine has continually demanded that Israel be reduced to a nine-mile-wide “country” before it will ever agree to even this temporary version of “peace”.

In the aftermath of the initial stage of the Iranian Islamic revolution, PLO leader Arafat was the first foreign dignitary to visit Tehran. He knew that for Palestine to be liberated (Israel destroyed) would require the removal of Israel from the military strategic West Bank. He also knew that he would need the help of a regional superpower. For Arafat, this regional hegemon would most likely become either the Islamic Republic or its arch enemy Saddam Hussein. Now Iraq has become a surrogate state of Tehran, as Iran attempts to take over the entire Levant.

The Iranian revolution is an extreme danger which is very much alive in the Middle East today; so too is the concept of a West Bank Palestinian state. The regional marriage of these two realities is a clear danger that urgently requires a dramatic response. A new and different kind of pathway toward peace is the only true way forward. Unless the Jewish state and its potential Arab Gulf allies find a formula to establish direct relations, the Iranian danger will remain acute. European and US imperial penetration only compounds the problem. It’s time for an Israeli-sponsored, anti-nuclear regional approach to be born. It’s time to begin hammering the Roof of Zion.

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).