Israel’s Peace Dichotomy

Palestinian gunmen attend the funeral of Khairi Shaheen and Hamza Maqbul, killed by Israeli forces during a military raid, in Nablus in the occupied West Bank on July 7, 2023.
ZAIN JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images

Israel’s Peace Dichotomy

Jews, Arabs and the paradox of peace in the Holy Land

west bank
As I drove in from Jerusalem, aside from a run-down checkpoint, it wasn’t obvious I had left Israel proper. Everything seems safe and normal in Kalia Beach. Tourists are drinking mojitos and enjoying the warm Dead Sea water. In fact, Jews and Arabs are enjoying the sea together.

But Israel has a peace dichotomy. As this part of the West Bank is enjoying peace, another is hit with war.

As I write this (on July 7), Israel just conducted a raid on the West Bank city of Nablus in hunt of men suspected of carrying out a terror attack earlier this week. The Israel Defense Forces (idf) tracked the two suspects to a house and called on them to surrender. The response was improvised explosive devices. The two Palestinians were shot dead.

This isn’t even the biggest Israeli-Palestinian clash of the week. On July 4, Israel conducted its largest raid in the West Bank in over two decades. The idf went to Jenin in the West Bank’s north to destroy weapons storage facilities and other military infrastructure used by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, arguably Iran’s most loyal “lapdog” in the region. Over a thousand idf soldiers took part in a two-day skirmish that claimed the lives of 13 Palestinians and one Israeli.

Terrorists in other areas responded to the Jenin raid with their own acts of violence. Militants in Gaza lobbed rockets over the border toward the Israeli community of Sderot. Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted the lobby. Meanwhile, a “lone-wolf” terrorist rammed a truck into pedestrians in Tel Aviv and stabbed people until fatally shot.

You wouldn’t know any of this sitting on a beach chair, enjoying the sun in Kalia.

Across the Dead Sea, slightly obscured by haze, is the coastline of Jordan. Jordan and Israel have a peace treaty. But exactly 50 years ago this October is the anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, when Israel’s Arab neighbors (including Jordan) invaded in hopes of extinguishing the Jewish state.

Tourists regularly cross into Jordan to visit the famed archaeological site of Petra. But that doesn’t mean relations are good. In May, Jordanian Member of Parliament Imad al-Adwan was caught smuggling 194 handguns and 12 assault rifles into the West Bank. And Jordan’s King Abdullah ii is a perennial Israel harasser whenever the Israeli-Palestinian conflict escalates.

This is Israel’s peace dichotomy. You can go to a place like Kalia Beach and see Jews and Arabs enjoying life together. Or you could work in downtown Jerusalem, like I’ve been doing, and see Jews and Arabs shopping at the same malls, promenading down the same parks or eating at the same restaurants.

And then, headlines like the following pop up:

I’m living in Israel, and I find out about these events online like everybody in the rest of the world. It feels as though the fighting is a country—a continent—a world—away. Perhaps some Israelis feel that way. But no false sense of security can wipe away the fact that every Jew and Arab who dies is the friend, the family member of somebody. And with every terror attack, with every raid, with every crazy man on a rampage, more casualties join the list.

Israelis wish relations with Arabs both inside and outside Israel were like those on Kalia Beach: everybody sets politics aside and enjoys life together. It’s easy for Israelis to bury their heads in the Dead Sea sand and assume everything will be alright. There are still issues to iron out, but those will settle in time. For the first time in Israel’s existence, Jews and Arabs can look at each other as good neighbors and as human beings. Peace seems so close.

But people remember old scores that need to be settled. A handful of dangerous people cause a city to blow up. One crazy man snuffs out the lives of innocent pedestrians enjoying life on the Mediterranean.

Sometimes, the security situation can seem like the whole country is turning into Kalia. But then, real life shatters that desert mirage. And that’s all peace ever seems to feel like: a mirage.

The Bible prophesies that Israelis’ relations with their Arab neighbors aren’t going to get better in the short term. Zechariah 14:1-2 prophesies that the Palestinians will take East Jerusalem by force. Hosea 5:13 calls the Arab-Israeli peace process an unhealable “wound.” Daniel 11:40 shows radical Islam’s push against the West will trigger World War iii.

But the same Bible prophesies that peace between Jews and Arabs will come. Isaiah 2:1-4 shows that the whole world will be united under God and under Jerusalem. Isaiah 19:23-25 states Israel and Egypt (populated today by Arabs) will serve God together.

Jews descend from the Patriarch Isaac. Arabs trace their ancestry to Isaac’s brother, Ishmael. Their father was Abraham. Jews and Arabs belong to the same family.

Genesis 25:8-9 records Abraham’s death: “And Abraham expired, and died a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people. And Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah ….” They buried him together, as brothers united in the legacy of their father.

Soon, God will unite Jews and Arabs as brothers—as a family.

God speed that day.

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