Huffpost Religion
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Harvey Gotliffe, Ph.D. Headshot

A Suggestion for Solving the Israel-Palestine Problem

Posted: Updated:

What is desperately needed is an alternative plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian situation, for all current and past proposals have turned out to be fruitless.

My next-door neighbor, a former professional athlete, just became the father of his third daughter. He's a young man in his 30s, and although he was pleased to have another healthy girl to go with his four- and two-year-old, he wondered if he should try again for a son.

He told my wife Carmen about his concern, and she said that she was the fifth of six daughters born to her Jewish parents in Málaga, Spain. He asked if her father had been disappointed when the sixth girl arrived. "No," Carmen said emphatically. "He was quite pleased. He believed that his daughters would always be sure to have a meal for him in his old age."

Unfortunately, her father died at the age of 44 of lung cancer caused by excessive smoking, and he should have either consulted with a doctor earlier or at least remembered the old saying, "Physician heal thyself" -- he was a doctor, and even more than that, he was a gynecologist and therefore knew where babies came from but not how to control which sex they would be.

However, he was wise enough to know that as a Jewish family in Franco's Spain, there would be little opportunity to outwardly practice Judaism in that Catholic country. He told his daughters to explore the various religions and to choose the one that each felt was best for them.

The result was the Perfectly Enlightened Alternate Choice Effect -- PEACE -- solution, which has worked for the family since the early 1950s among the six daughters and their families, first in Spain, then Morocco, Canada and now the United States.

After careful consideration, the eldest daughter chose to remain Jewish, whereas the next decided to be Catholic, the third Jewish, the fourth Catholic, the fifth (my wife) remained Jewish, and the sixth became Catholic.

Two sisters eventually settled in Spain and the others moved to Montréal. All the sisters and their families love one another, and there is no dissension regarding religion. They live in relative harmony, but occasionally some "discussion" takes place between sisters that's common in any family. After the eldest sister died in Montréal, the youngest Catholic sister made sure that her sister's religious Jewish widower continued to be included in all family affairs.

I have been to both a family Bar Mitzvah and a Catholic wedding in Montréal and have been welcomed by my wife's entire Catholic family in Málaga, Spain and they have accepted me as they have accepted one another.

Now, if there's a way to expand my wife's family's PEACE plan among the Israelis and the Palestinians, perhaps that situation can be more readily resolved. It would be impossible to have all Palestinians and Israelis intermarry now and in the future, and then when they have children to have one be Jewish, the next Muslim and the next Christian.

"Christian?" you ask incredulously, perhaps not realizing that along with other Christians, there are Israeli Arabs of that faith. One of them is my adopted little brother Joseph, whom I met when I was living in Jerusalem in 1975 and who now lives in Florida. In the past two years I have stayed with him there, and he has stayed with me here in California. For more than 25 years we have regularly called each other trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian problem, to no avail. When we talk, Joseph always says "we Israelis" whenever referring to the situation.

Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims and Christians don't have to intermarry and beget children, but it might help if they interacted on a one-to-one basis and sat down over a cup of tea and honestly talked. They might find out that they have far more in common than they realize. Both Palestinians and Israelis I have spoken with during the years all seem to want the same basic things -- to be able to raise their children without fear and to live in peace. Their discussions could possibly work, but only if they could keep the Israeli and Palestinian leaders as well as Hillary Clinton away from the scene.

There's still the Israeli settler factor and the Palestinian Hamas factor that must be considered. As a mainstay of the PEACE plan, those two groups would be given an isolated and far-removed portion of the land to share and be allowed to resolve any differences that they may have on their own.