The existential threat posed by political, anti-Israel Arabist and Islamist rhetoric -- toothless, ineffectual and empty as it is and always has been -- serves only to justify the extreme actions of the state of Israel against the Palestinian people.
However, there is absolutely no justification for making that threat in either the Qur'an or the Sunnah, and in fact the opposite is true:
Israel's strongest claim to Holy Land hegemony lies in the words of the Qur'an, just as the strongest scriptural support for Palestinian peace and justice can be found in the words of the Bible.
Palestinians -- both Muslim and Christian -- have lived oppressed, stunted and often shortened lives for decades, and will continue to do so for as long as the state of Israel can use the threat of annihilation against them, allowing security to trump human rights and freedoms, in order to deny their internationally legal and Covenant-based responsibilities.
Without question, according to both international law and the Torah, the well-being of all those living in Israel/Palestine -- known to so many as God's Holy Land -- is the central responsibility of Israel, Jews and Judaism.
And also without question, according to the Qur'an, responsibility for governing that land and belongs to Judaism, and God's people Israel.
Any Muslim familiar with the revelation God gave to Muhammad should know that.
In Al-Maeda 5:20-21 the Qur'an declares:
Remember Moses said to his people; "O my People! Call in remembrance the favor of Allah unto you, when he produced prophets among you, made you kings, and gave you what he had not given to any other among the peoples. O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah hath assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown to your own ruin."
In fact, those words make it clear that their very survival as a people depends on their residency. What many Muslims may not know, however, is that KatabAllahu, the word so often translated as "assigned," actually means something much stronger that that, something much closer to "ordained" or "destined." According to the words of the Qur'an, living in and governing God's Holy Land is the Jewish people's destiny.
Muslims, Jews and Christians together acknowledge that Jews are God's chosen people, but what were they actually chosen for? It's not a secret. In fact, the answer lies in the 18th chapter of the first book of the Torah, known as Genesis to Christians. There God explains in verses 17-19:
Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will about for Abraham what he has promised him.
Here again, though, translation leaves much to be desired. The word translated as "what is right and just" is Tzedakah and means "righteousness," "benevolent justice" and "charity," but the character of the virtues it describes is so profoundly archetypal that some Hebrew scholars even say that real Tzedakah is something more akin to brotherly love.
And the "so that" clause makes living in accordance to Tzedakah a necessary pre-condition to God keeping his promises.
There's a reason that Muhammad always made sure to use Jewish law and precedent to judge the Jewish people: It's that Islam was revealed to confirm and build upon Judaism and to call Jews back to their Covenant, not to replace it. Time and time again he confirmed that the laws of Moses persisted for the Children of Israel, and about non-Jews living in the Holy Land, the words of the Jewish books of revelation and prophecy are clear.
Exodus 22:21: "Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt."
Deuteronomy 29: 10-11:
All of you are standing today in the presence of the LORD your God -- your leaders and chief men, your elders and officials, and all the other men of Israel, together with your children and your wives, and the aliens living in your camps who chop your wood and carry your water. You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the LORD your God, a covenant the LORD is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.
Leviticus 24:22: "You are to have the same law for the alien and the native born. I am the Lord your God."
"You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. In whatever tribe the alien settles, there you are to give him his inheritance," declares the Sovereign Lord.
Together these passages proclaim peace and justice for Palestinian and Israeli together, Jew and non-Jew alike.
For Middle east peace to come to pass, our world needs nothing more than Israel as God wants it to be.
As I write this on Sunday evening -- sitting safe in my hospital call-room in Canada -- the last few days' death toll in Gaza approaches 200 innocent lives lost, over 10 times that severely injured, on top of the tens of thousands of Christian and Muslim Palestinians killed for the sake of "security" since the state of Israel's inception, a fact that in no way justifies the Jewish blood that has been shed, since Muslims and Christians both are supposed to do better than "an eye for an eye."
However, given all that, I thought long about the title for this piece, because there is no possible way that I can rhetorically support or defend Israel today, despite the fact I truly believe that Israel's claim on the Holy Land is unquestionable and secure, a necessary pre-condition to the revelation of God's Holy vision: "sustain" -- a word that means "maintain," "nourish" and "suffer," all together -- is as far as I think any Muslim could possibly go.
But I know that proclaiming both justice and peace for Israel will inevitably bring about the same for my Palestinian brothers and sisters, in both Christianity and Islam.
Justice looks the same no matter from which side you look at it, and peace -- if it's real peace -- is always shared.
Shalom Aleichum/Assalamu-Alaikum Israel/Palestine, may God Grant You Peace, Amen.