Monday, 27 September 2010 00:00 GFP Columnist - Helen Briton Wheeler

If you want peace (and who doesn’t) please take the steps that lead to peace. As I watched on my TV news while Israeli settlers danced about celebrating the end of the freeze on settlement building, as their blue and white balloons ascended into the cloudless sky, I wanted to cry out in despair.

How is it that they can be so happily taking the steps that lead towards resentment, human misery and possibly war? How can they be so obdurately blind to the obvious?

Peace can only come with justice. Peace means living harmonious lives beside their Palestinian neighbours. Peace means treating Palestinians with respect.

While I was watching, one of the settlers talked about land titles (as these settlements are illegal according to international agreement). He held aloft a copy of the Bible and proclaimed it the greatest land title in the world.

If settlers are taking the Bible as their guide, then they should follow the Bible and behave according to the letter of the Law. They should not cherry pick according to their own preference but accept what it says.

Before I quote from Leviticus, let us also recall that Jewish people were driven out of their homeland some 2,000 years ago by the forces of Imperial Rome, not by subsequent Palestinian settlers, many of whom have a very long heritage in the land. No, it was not the Palestinians who displaced them. The Palestinians are the innocent meat in the sandwich of history.

Now, getting to Leviticus, the Biblical chapter which sets out the Jewish Law. I quote Chapter 19, verses 33-34, in the English Revised Standard translation: “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

The Palestinian people who many settlers appear so indifferent to are the very sojourners whom they should love as themselves.

That is the pathway to peace.

Image Courtesy of DayLife - An Israeli settler (C) shouts at left-wing activists holding a protest in Jerusalem calling for the continuation of a building freeze September 26, 2010. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Israeli settlers to show restraint after the limited building freeze expires on Sunday, a plea that appeared aimed at persuading Palestinians not to quit peace talks. - Reuters Pictures

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