Trouble has been brewing and bubbling over in the Middle East in earnest since the end of WWII and the foundation of Israel in 1948 by the Allied Powers, a Jewish state in the midst of Palestine. It was deemed as a measure of justice for the Nazi treatment of the Jews during Hitler’s Third Reich.
Actually, the trouble started well enough in the 7th century AD with the birth of Islam and the subsequent conflicts between Muslims and Christians beginning 400 years later during the crusades of the 11th – 13th centuries over claims to the so-called “Holy Lands.”
Today, the three major Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam claim Palestine and the city of Jerusalem in particular as the historical seat of their religions. The Jews once did occupy and reign over the territory in ancient Biblical times but had since scattered throughout the world.
So, the cause of the trouble is religion.
The nation of Israel has been fighting for its very existence ever since it was founded in 1948 completely surrounded by Islamic peoples who have in their hearts and minds not given up their claim to the territory as a major center of Islam, and some of whom have vowed to reclaim it and wipe Israel off the face of the Earth.
It’s all about religion.
The latest threat to Israel comes from the nation of Iran, who’s political and religious leaders have flatly stated again and again that Israel does not have the right to exist. Now Israel is afraid that Iran is on the brink of obtaining nuclear weapons and therefore is doing everything within its power to prevent that from happening.
Earlier this year, Israel accused Iran of trying to assassinate Israeli embassy personnel in New Delhi, India, and Tbilisi, Georgia. That followed the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist for which Iran vowed revenge and blamed the government of Israel, which is itching to invoke a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities as part of a growing confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program.
In the midst of all this, Israel’s major ally, the United States, is leading a global push for sanctions that it hopes will force Iran to suspend its uranium-enrichment program. Naturally, Iran is maintaining that its nuclear facilities are for peaceful purposes and not for weapons.
The U.S. is asking Israel to wait before acting militarily against Iran with the hope that the sanctions will work. As an inducement, Israel is being offered advanced weaponry including bunker-busting bombs and long-range refueling planes in return for it committing not to attack Iran's nuclear facilities this year.
Of course the average American citizen, while saying goodbye to its tax dollars, is as usual, getting nothing.
Actually the U.S. has its own plans in place to attack Iran if necessary to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. President Barack Obama has assured Israel that the U.S. is prepared to take military action if necessary in the event that diplomatic efforts and sanctions fail.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu argues the negotiations will fail unless Iran agrees to halt all uranium enrichment, ship its current stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country and dismantle an underground enrichment facility near the city of Qom.
This week the U.S. Congress passed a new set of severe sanctions on Iran's energy, shipping and financial industries, convinced that increasing the economic pressure on Tehran will derail its suspected nuclear weapons program. The bill would penalize anyone who works in Iran's petroleum, petrochemical or natural gas sector, or helps Tehran's oil and gas industry by providing goods, services, technology or infrastructure.
Netanyahu was not impressed: “Neither sanctions nor diplomacy has yet had any impact on Iran's nuclear weapons program," he said.
Some U.S. Congressmen objected to the legislation, casting it as a step toward war. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, said it should be called the "Obsession With Iran Act" and warned against "beating the war drums once again."
"We need to stop the wars. We don't have the money to fight these wars any longer," Paul said.
Paul, as usual, is right.
More wars are not going to solve a problem which has been festering since the 11th century. The United States has nuclear weapons. Israel has nuclear weapons. The Christians and the Jews have nuclear weapons. They object to the Muslims having nuclear weapons. The problem is not nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons have functioned as a valid deterrent to war for the last 67 years – a necessary evil, but they’re here to stay.
Religion is the problem.
Everyone knows that the problem is religion, but no one wants to mention it.
We’re still fighting the crusades of the Middle Ages by proxy in the 21st century. If you take the imaginary man in the sky out of the equation all the problems would be solved.
The Islamic countries – the Muslims-- have to get over the fact that Israel is a legitimate state. The Jews and the Christians have to reconcile the fact that the Muslims still have to some extent a legitimate claim to parts of Jerusalem.
Diplomacy is the one and only answer.
Religion is the elephant in the room.