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Pray for the peace of Jerusalem

© 2001
by Joseph Farah
Joseph Farah, an Arab-American journalist, is the editor and chief executive officer of, a leading independent news site. See more articles by Joseph Farah
Unlike many other observers, I blame much of the Middle East conflict, not on misunderstandings, not on a failure to communicate, not on an inability to compromise, but on evil -- pure and simple. 

And evil, I believe, can only be overcome with God's love and blessing, and it can only be resisted by man through prayer and force. 

The truth is, there's a lot of evil in the world. This is something that many of our elected officials, top international diplomats and certainly the press fail to factor into the equation when they look for solutions to intractable problems. 

In the annals of history, there have been many disputes between righteous and unrighteous causes. Is it just possible that one side in this debate might be right -- or, at least, more right -- than the other? In my mind, there is no question about it. Why? 

Israel is not and has not been an aggressor. And it is the only state in the region offering any real freedom to its people. 

Most people in Israel, including its leadership, truly seek a just and lasting peace with the Arabs. Arab leaders can be divided into basically two camps -- those who preach war and annihilation openly and those who pay lip service to peace while planning war and annihilation. 

Take, for instance, Jerusalem's Grand Mufti Ekrima Sabri. Make no mistake about it -- this guy is a hard-line, anti-Jewish, war-mongering zealot. He tells anyone who will listen to his ravings that the imaginary state of Palestine extends "from the sea to the river." For those of you weak on geography, the sea is the Mediterranean and the river is the Jordan. That includes all of Israel. He also declares "to all infidel nations that Jerusalem is Arab; we shall not respect anyone else's wishes regarding her." This is the same Islamic cleric who refuses to condemn deadly terrorist bombings in Jerusalem and other suicide attacks on Jewish civilians. 

"We cannot judge," say the Mufti. 

This a "holy man." This is Yasser Arafat's "spiritual leader." 

You see, sometimes in international affairs, people just think differently. They are, figuratively speaking, on different planets. They don't speak the same language. They live in opposite parallel universes. There is no common ground. 

There is no room to negotiate with people who want only to destroy you. Even the best multicultural vibes can't change people's hearts and minds. And that's the real root cause of the Mideast crisis. 

I don't pretend to have any monopoly on the truth. But as a journalist of 25 years, I recognize it when I see it. 

One truth is certain. The troubles in the Middle East today will not be solved by the creation of a "Palestinian state." 

Another truth is that Jerusalem has a unique importance to Jews. It has always been a place described and revered in Jewish law. For centuries since the Diaspora, Jews around the world have prayed toward Jerusalem, mourned the destruction of their Temple and hopefully repeated the phrase, "Next year in Jerusalem." 

There is no chance for peace in the Middle East -- no chance whatsoever -- as long as those involved on both sides allow themselves to believe myths, to see the past through a prism of lies. The first and most important step toward peace is seeking truth -- not compromise. 

Psalm 122:6 says, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee." 

I really believe some people in this world of ours are misreading this verse. They must think it says, "Pray for a piece of Jerusalem." That's not what it says. 

Meanwhile, Zechariah 12:3 says, "And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it." 

Surely Jerusalem has become that burdensome stone for all people. And we've seen what happens to those who try to divide the city -- even those with the best of intentions. They, indeed, are cut to pieces. 

Sad to say, this is not a struggle that will be solved at the bargaining table. Jews should understand this better than any other people, but even many Israelis have misplaced their faith -- the very faith that returned them to their homeland a generation ago. 

I have a simple (some might say simplistic) prescription for peace in the Middle East -- and everywhere else, for that matter: Forsake pride, lies and covetousness, and rediscover the power of prayer, supplication and obedience. 

Joseph Farah is editor and chief executive officer of and writes a daily column.

This page was produced by Joseph E. Katz
Middle Eastern Political and Religious History Analyst 
Brooklyn, New York 
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Portions Copyright © 1984 Joan Peters, Portions Copyright © 2001 Joseph Katz
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