On Gaza

It seems that everybody has something to say about Gaza, and in particular the apportionment of blame. This analysis by Cranmer is, I believe, vital reading for understanding the futility of so much of the response to the past fortnight’s tragedies.

The ‘underlying cause’ is theological, or, to be more precise, religio-theological-historical-political.

It all comes down to which son Abraham almost sacrificed.

For Jews it is revealed in the Torah (Gen 22:1f) that it was Isaac – from whom the Jews are descended. The Christians corroborate this (Heb 11:17; Js 2:21). But to Muslims it is revealed in the Qur’an (Surah 11:69-73, 37:112-113, 51:24-30) that it was Ishmael – from whom Arab Muslims are descended. They believe that the ‘promised son’ was Ishmael and scribes later corrupted the original reading in Genesis to ‘Isaac’.

This is possibly the most important bit of redaction in the history of the world. Genesis according to the Torah reveals that Isaac was the ‘promised son’ and so the Jews are the chosen of YHWH. But Genesis according to the Qur’an reveals Ishmael as the ‘promised son’, and so Muslim Arabs are the chosen of Allah.

So who is the chosen ‘promised’ son? Who inherits the land? The second-born of the first wife, or the first-born of the second wife?

There is no consensus to be found here, no agreement to be had, no concordat to be drawn up by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, for not even the Middle East messiah peace envoy will be able to resolve this intractable antithesis and irreconcilable mutual exclusion. There is no convenient fudge, no compromise, and no third way.

So we are left with an intractable dilemma, a problem without resolution, a devastatingly inevitable and utterly unavoidable scenario in which nothing but the return of the concept of a victor and a vanquished will lead to anything approaching peace – with all the attendant suffering, pain, death and trauma.

What we are seeing is the eternal struggle between the (perceived) revelation of God and those who base their lives on a corruption of that revelation. How can there ever be peace without one side acknowledging that they were deceived?

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