Solomon's Peace AccordRoundup
tags: Israel, Palestine, Middle East history, King Solomon
David is a philosopher, filmmaker and writer whose focus is making a better world. He has produced a number of investigative films for both the BBC and PBS, including Nazi Gold, dispelling the myth that Switzerland was neutral in WWII. Information about his recent book, The Way, an interpretation of the Tao Te Ching, an ancient treatise about humanity's place in nature, is available at LaoTzu-TheWay.org.
There was an ancient tranquil era in the Middle East, when current enemies viewed themselves as one extended family. Sulamein, known also as Jedidiah or Solomon, reigned for decades with an even hand and a deep sense of justice.
Solomon’s historical prominence as a prophet and a peacemaker is due to his implementation of policies based on the perennial truth that violence begets violence.
Today, in stark contrast to Solomon’s reign, some Palestinians and Israelis continue to cause grievous harm to each other; there seems little hope for stable peace. Ongoing and past abuses and atrocities fuel the rationale for violence. Reciprocal belligerence has become normalized in response to recurrent territorial disputes.
The worsening mood of the region is dominated by greater self-justification; each side claiming that they are the victim, each side taking license for aggressive defense or hostile action.
Leadership, militaries, and by extension, people in and around Israel, are in a state of contentious trance; antagonists conceive that their foes are inherently malevolent and dangerous. Both sides blame each other for atrocities and sincerely believe their enemy’s behavior has a sinister intent.
Some individuals, organizations and governments outside of the strife feel a need to cast judgment. Foreign commentary and policy often ignore the complex underlying history when criticizing the violence. Interlopers with their own agenda agitate the angry atmosphere by condoning and supporting either side’s actions.
Inflammatory rhetoric, externally and internally, has only encouraged fruitless hostilities in the region. The increasing intensity of the warfare has yielded more sadness and suffering, and even with a cease-fire, most observers have a bleak view of the future.
Devastating and lethal assaults confirm that might does not make right. Continuing brutality only ensures the engendering of a new generation of angry warriors.
On either side of every war and battle, the children whose loved ones are killed by an enemy grow up to perpetrate atrocities as adults, not because of politics, but as retribution for their personal loss.
Foundation for Change
Political solutions based on the priorities of powerful forces rather than human needs have failed miserably to end the struggle. Wise leadership is required, with knowledge of what has failed, and the necessary tools to heal the wounds and the divisions.
The seemingly intransigent schism emerged from disputes over what was once shared. The immense feud appears irreconcilable, however, common moral codes hold the potential remedy for this long-standing civil war. Understanding both the divergent and similar perspectives of the people at war is a necessity for implementing change.
Palestinians and Israelis have an inseparable ancestry with the same spiritual foundations.
In Solomon’s day, there was certainly conflict, however, his perspective often catalyzed adversity into harmony. His central theme is compelling; he recognized the extreme folly of self-righteous behavior.
There is a potential application of the wisdom of Solomon today. Stories about him from the Old Testament and the Quran have renewed relevance. For the venerable King, resolution was not about determining who had a better argument or a sharper sword; nor was a solution based on who insisted on being the greater victim. A fair outcome for all meant — arguing sides must give up blaming their opponents — for the sake of a harmonious community.
Solomon’s good judgment and conflict resolution skills are exemplified in a number of allegories. In one, the owner of a vineyard was outraged that his neighbor’s sheep had over-run and ruined his grape crop. The shepherd vehemently claimed the vineyard was already in decrepit condition with poor fencing. Rather than declaring a verdict about who was right, Solomon had the vintner care for the sheep, and the shepherd work on the vineyard until each appreciated the other’s challenges.
This formula for humble rapprochement is based on recognition that a foe’s needs, claims and perspective are very similar to one’s own. It may seem odd or outrageous to some and idealistic to others. Yet encouraging empathy for an adversary or enemy was a successful method of reconciliation employed by Solomon and has been embraced by many peacemakers throughout history.
In perhaps the most widely known tale of Solomon, two mothers were brought to him, claiming the same child as their own. He proposed cutting it in half for them to share, a solution that dramatically tested the truthfulness and will of the women before him. However, the heart of this parable reveals Solomon’s foundational wisdom, no less applicable today; destructive and deadly force used to settle any dispute is the source of greater suffering.
By extension, foes need to awaken to the reality that their interests are served only by abandoning aggression and militarization. The dominant eye for an eye mentality can be eliminated by initiating a conciliatory atmosphere where combatants stop portraying each other as victim or perpetrator.
An Idealistic Accord
Those seeking an end to conflict can imagine Solomon’s Peace Accord. What might it include?
The prime directive of a new Peace Authority would be to generate a consensus that common human needs greatly overshadow any obstacles to unity. Primary members of this Peace Authority must have experience and credentials in healing community relationships with a pacifist orientation. Once established, new members must be approved by consensus.
The Peace Authority would be empowered with the central responsibility of maintaining a harmonious community in all surrounding regions, with commensurate functions supporting conflict resolution. Cultivating supportive relations among neighbors would become a mutual responsibility for all leaders and residents; maintaining peace would rely on resolving differences through calm and creative dialogue among all members of the community.
Foreign powers would be prohibited from supplying munitions or funds for weaponry to individual governments or militias in the region.
A complete demilitarization of the warring parties would be implemented. Former soldiers would work on building infrastructure and establishing community services. A single, regional, international peace-keeping force, commensurate with the protective needs of all parties, would operate under the Peace Authority.
The Peace Authority would distribute all humanitarian foreign funds and supplies. It would ensure these are used exclusively for the development of human services that support all communities.
The needs of children from all cultures in the region would be a high priority. Good education would be made equally available for all in the Holy Land; with schools embracing a version of history recognizing joint responsibility for past violence.
Students would learn the basics of conflict resolution from an early age.
The Peace Authority would ensure that land, housing, and food are equitably managed. Where claims of ownership are disputed without resolution, land would remain as common ground, until a consensus is reached for future use.
Jerusalem would be the home of the new Peace Authority. It would become a model city, esteemed by the world as a center of ultimate reconciliation and tolerance, and symbolic of a future without war.
Inspired leadership should develop and implement renewed ideals promoting stability. Adversaries must recognize their mutual interests and recover their principled common dreams. The region will only have lasting peace when people embrace abiding kinship and goodwill.