“Democracy,” Reinhold Niebuhr famously said, “is finding proximate solutions to insoluble problems.” And it’s hard to imagine a more insoluble set of problems than those associated with Israel and Palestine. Presently the Palestinians are pursuing a seat at the United Nations, which, if secured, would be a big step for them in the direction achieving statehood. If the U.N. rebuffs the Palestinians, however, there may be dire consequences. Warning the U.N. of the dangers, French President Nicholas Sarkozy said yesterday, “Each of us knows that Palestine cannot immediately obtain full and complete recognition of the status of United Nations member state. But who could doubt that a veto at the Security Council risks engendering a cycle of violence in the Middle East?” That possibility alone should provoke Christians to pray for the upcoming vote…and to prayerful reflection on just what it means to be politically faithful in this complicated global society.
Paul Alexander has posted a great, short article on the two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict on the Jesus & Politics Blog. The two-state solution is, at best, a proximate solution for what may be an insoluble political problem–but it is a problem that cries out for some sort of solution nonetheless. He writes,
The call for a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders with equal land swaps (i.e. on 22% of historical Palestine) is a pragmatic compromise solution, favoring both Israel and Palestine. It is not a pro-Palestinian position addressing only the interests of Palestinians, or acceding to their “maximum demands.” The fact that Palestinians are initiating this move and that the current Israeli government resists it should not distract us from that fact. The two-state solution has never been the ideal, or the greatest approximation of Kingdom of God values, but it has always been a pragmatic compromise of otherwise serious and irreconcilable claims that tend to be mutually exclusive. The two-state solution helps defend Israel against criticisms of Zionism and only grants Palestinians relative justice.
Relative justice is better than flat-out injustice and, as Martin Luther King said, justice delayed, whether relative or not, is justice denied. Will you pray with me for the U.N. to have wisdom, for the Palestinians to have justice, and for the Israelis and the Palestinians to have peace?