Dear Dr. Saidi,
My mother tells me you are curious, after reading my book, on my views on the Palestinian issue. Although I have personal views on the particular issues, these views are necessarily incompletely informed as well as immaterial to how I believe we, as a nation, should operate in regards to this issue. We, obviously as individuals but also collectively as a people, cannot solve the particular and complex problems which exist in innumerable scenarios and areas of the world. We can work to establish conditions within which those most familiar with and affected by these issues can arrive at solutions for themselves.
The ideological differences between Islam and Christianity are fundamental and irreconcilable. Fundamentalists from these faith traditions will not likely ever agree on a compromise in areas where these faith traditions are translated into political ends, and US support of Israel is one of those ends. One cannot view the Israeli Palestinian issue in isolation from the support Israel enjoys from the US, which support is not rationally based in terms of secular national interests alone but is also faith based. Achieving compromise on the contentious issues between the Israelis and Palestinians requires not only a discussion between those two parties but also a discussion in the US which would render support of a compromise solution politically viable for the US politician advocating it.
If secular US national interests and faith tradition interests could be separated and the former dealt with in isolation, Middle East stability, which supports unrestricted, and non-threatened, commercial transit and trade, nuclear non-proliferation, and a regional and international political arrangement to maintain the same would, or should, be the US goals. These goals are incompatible with a continued non-resolution of, as you call it, the Palestinian issue, a phrase which states simplistically multiple very difficult issues. Having artificially, for arguments sake, taken ideology of US factions out of the equation, and focusing solely on what is in our national interests, the particulars of the issues are less important than how their resolution achieves our national goals, those goals themselves informed by our national ideals.
Stability ensues where peace reigns, and both are fundamental to economic growth and development. Stability, peace and economic development enhance prosperity, endowing citizens the economic freedom to pursue their diverse passions if the political structure allows free market forces to operate. This model has been applied to US interactions with China for some time under the concept of functionalism. If we can stimulate the growth of a free market economy and their integration into the global free market, over time political freedoms will follow as free markets require a rule of law structure and the economic growth which follows produces a middle class which is unencumbered by a singular focus on subsistence. It is a theory which has arguably had some success in China and a policy which has undoubtedly lifted countless Chinese citizens out of a subsistence living and into, in some cases, affluence.
What does this have to do with the Palestinian issue? What I am trying to explain is how, in international relations, countries can pursue an altruistic philosophy without taking sides on the particular issues. Our goals should be stability, peace, integration of regional markets into the global market, development, foreign direct investment, unfettered access to markets, lessening of tensions and that which increases the same, and political arrangements to perpetuate these conditions. By achieving these things we do, in fact, help our fellow man without taking sides in contentious issues which we will never be able to fully understand our resolve to anyone’s satisfaction. These particular issues must be resolved by the aggrieved parties. Discourse is important to explore potential avenues of compromise. Pressure, where available, is important to encourage the conversation. Taking sides is dangerous if one really intends to achieve stability, peace and the hope of prosperity which leads to both economic and political liberty if followed to its end.
What I believe personally about the Palestinian issue is not important. I do have strong views of Israel’s providential place in historical events. I do not believe I need to help God in bringing His plan to pass in that regards. What I am called to do is the best I can for my family, my community, and my country while doing what is possible for my fellow man at large. The best effort at the latter cannot be realized by transposing my views of justice and love on others situations which I cannot hope to appreciate. It can only be approached by living my life as best I can as an example and applying, on the grand scale, general propositions which have proven themselves to lend to the greatest benefit to the greatest number – foremost among which is individual liberty which is enhanced and enabled by economic freedom.
I appreciate your willingness to read something with an ideology outside of your faith tradition. I, as well, have read the Quran, finding within it principles much in line with those of my faith, although clearly there are doctrinal differences. Although these differences are irreconcilable, that does not necessitate they be elevated into a political clash of civilizations. The most basic principle of moral action in my faith is love. That is incompatible with the hubris of a belief in my ability to understand, in all its intricate details, the situation of another and forcing my ideas of moral rectitude on them, although I believe there are general principles which enable love, in its many expressions, to abound. Individual liberty and the conditions under which it thrives and grows is one of those principles.
My mother truly enjoys your lessons and appreciates your friendship. Thank you for your kindness to my family.
Harold R. Gielow