Israel-Palestine conflict: Spirit of magnanimity vs siege mentality | Inquirer Opinion

Israel-Palestine conflict: Spirit of magnanimity vs siege mentality

/ 05:00 AM November 07, 2023

Randy David has highlighted the value of having a country of one’s own: OFWs returning to the Philippines from war-torn Gaza and Jews having returned to Palestine, and established their own nation-state called Israel, then concludes with Palestinians being refugees in their own country, condemning Israel as yesterday’s oppressed having become today’s oppressors, then ends with an admonition that we cannot by our silence or neutrality, be complicit in this heinous crime (“To have a country of one’s own,” Public Lives, 11/5/23). In short, Israelis are the criminals in this heinous crime, and Palestinians are the victims.

The Department of Foreign Affairs explained our abstention vote to the UN resolution as having been dictated by the absence of any reference to the Oct. 7 Hamas invasion of Israel, mass murder, rape, and abduction. In other words, a balanced take. To do that, one must take a far-sighted view and a broader context.

The land that is being referred to now as Palestine is actually Syria Palaestina, or Palestinian Syria, composed of Judaea and Galilee (corresponding to present-day Israel, West Bank, and Gaza), which was annexed by the Roman conquistadors to the larger territory of the Levant (of Syria and Lebanon). In short, there never was a country Palestine; the word Palaestina only indicates that it was part of the Roman province of Syria.


Jews reclaimed Judea and Galilee, their own land by historic right going back four millennia, and have been defending themselves—the universal right to self-defense—against some of its neighbors who publicly avow annihilating Israel until it is no more as a nation-state. The Oct. 7 invasion is a continuation of this longest war; the ongoing Israeli counterinvasion of Gaza is in hot pursuit of the Hamas invaders and to free the hostages. As in any war, collateral damage is inevitable.


All of Western civilization, including Israel, desire peace in the Middle East; yet, its immediate neighbors persistently reject peace because it runs counter to their goal of annihilating Israel through the instrument of war. Pursuing peace has been very costly for Egypt losing Anwar Sadat in the process and the birthing of the Muslim Brotherhood; costly for the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan which took in Palestinians as refugees in the aftermath of the 1967 war, these same guests becoming active participants in the destabilization of the country; costly, too, for Lebanon resulting from the destabilizing Hezbollah presence. By the way, the British created the new state of Jordan toward the end of the British Mandate, while the Jews created their own country Israel when the opportunity presented itself via the UN-sponsored Palestine Partition Resolution. The Arab neighbors rejected the resolution and denied recognition of Israel.

It is easy to pontificate from the relative peace of Western civilization that powerful Israel, with a nuclear deterrent, must discard its “siege mentality” and display a spirit of magnanimity. Yet, one must wonder how one is faced with an existential threat and reduced to self-defense since 1948, 1967, and 1973, continuing intermittently to Oct. 7, and it seems, for all eternity, must conduct its affairs.

And, who are we to question Wisdom Himself, the Almighty, who led Abraham (Father to all Jews, Muslims, and Christians) from Ur of the Chaldees in present-day Iraq to the Promised Land, while decreeing that the first son Ishmael shall establish his own separate kingdom? To all the peoples of the Book, isn’t that enough reason for partition, for separate nation-states, and for peaceful coexistence as the Almighty has decreed?

Richard Ferrer

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TAGS: Israel-Hamas war, Letters to the Editor

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