The Jews and the Muslims are cousins.
They share a grandfather in Abraham.
The father of the Jews is Isaac, and the father of the Muslims is Ishmael.
But the blessings promised to Abraham were for all his children, and so the Jews and the Muslims need to become at-one with each other, under Abraham, rather than hating and fighting each other (and by so doing not being at-one with Abraham).
It’s like when we were kids and got a new toy, and I thought it was mine, and my brother thought it was his. If we played together nicely, we had a grand time and enjoyed the toy together. If we fought over the toy, our mother would take it away until we could play together again. When the toy was taken away, we both lost because neither my brother or myself got to play with it.
No playing together, no toy.
No being at-one, no inheritance.
The Jews and Muslims need each other to be perfected under the blessings of Abraham.
We read about the same thing with the Nephites and Lamanites, who shared their grandfather Lehi. The Nephites were the children of Nephi, and the Lamanites were the children of Laman and Lemuel.
The Nephites had the ancient records and knew themselves to be the holy people, while the Lamanites were angry about being cheated and perceived that the Nephi (the younger brother, like Isaac), had stolen their inheritance.
Because they felt injustice had been done, the Lamanites taught their children to hate their cousins the Nephites.
Because they we always being attacked, the Nephites taught their children how dangerous the enemy Lamanites were, and how to fight against them to maintain their land and liberty.
This was a forever war, until everyone was destroyed.
This was a cousins’ war.
We see the same scenario playing out before our eyes with the Isaac-ites and the Ishmael-ites.
The Ishmael-ites feel injustice has been done, a birthright has been stolen along with its inheritance.
The Isaac-ites feel their rightful inheritance is always been attacked, and that they are constantly being oppressed by their cousins.
Iran entered the waters of the Mediterranean Sea last night (for only the second time since 1979), through the Suez Canal, on the heels of the Palestinian cry of Israel refusing democracy. The showdown is about to begin (again).
Israel has a serious question to consider regarding the democracy, for in less than ten years’ time there will be more Muslims here than Jews. The Jews want a democracy, but they will keep their state of Israel at all cost. They cannot choose democracy when they know they will be out out-numbered at the next election, because that is like declaring a forfeit. They want a democracy, but need it to be a Jewish democracy, which won’t work when they are the minority.
This morning, Syrian refugees flooded into Jordan, because the regime would rather destroy Syria than allow revolution and the rebels have not defined or organized their revolution. In the meantime, families are displaced and real people are injured.
(In the 80’s, Israel decided to attack Syria one day to reclaim some land. They did it during the day, and didn’t let the people who were working go home that night. The families yell through megaphones over the border to each other.)
Because everybody gets hurt when families go to war.
Most believe that the US and Israel are arming the Syrian rebels.
Others believe the US is destroying relations with Israel by attempting peace talks with Iran.
Others say Israel can’t force Iran to self-disclose their nuclear weapons until Israel does, too.
When cousins go to war, all the second cousins gets forced to pick sides.
Palestine has Iran, Syria, China, and Russia.
Israel has the US and most of Europe.
Egypt and India are being forced to choose, and after that the other countries fall like dominoes.
It’s the fight in the parking lot that happens after a bad family therapy session.
The problem for Israel is their own history. Their land is is being excavated everywhere, so the memories of the Roman invasion is kept fresh and raw despite the centuries. Cross-referencing Josephus, the Jew-turned-Roman-historian, especially his story of Magdela, and the people today know that when Rome invaded, the locals wanted to make peace by not fighting and submitting politically so as to maintain their religion. But foreigners living here fought, angering Rome, and all was destroyed. They have just gotten their land back, and do not want to lose it again.
Their people were massacred (repeatedly), and they just want to be left alone, with a land to call their own.
The Palestinians say that rather than being gracious to give up half their land, Israel has imprisoned them and oppressed them, becoming the enemy they say they fear.
Palestine will lose power this weekend, completely, of Egypt doesn’t bring the fuel. Israel cut off their solar panels. Air strikes both ways began today.
(Edit: Tonight Palestine declined Egypt’s offer.)
The battleground has to be here, in Israel, because it has always been.
If you look at a map, they call it “the fertile crescent” because people going from East to West had to go north above the desert to be able to travel through safely, with enough food and water for their armies.
Then, if you look at the geography of Israel, you see it is like a handprint. The palm is the desert, and the fingers area mountains. Between the fingers are valleys, and in the valleys are rivers and seas.
When civilization was settling, they naturally settled at the places where food and water were available. These specific points became attached together by roads that connected other cities to those sources of food and water. Every valley had an entrance and an exit, and roads where what developed to connect the cities, with both points having food and water, creating stopping stations along the way.
This is what makes the land such a hotbed of political power, even besides cultural or religious issues.
Because all the major empires through all time have been to the west or east of Israel, and Israel has been a crossing ground, the place where the gathering armies meet halfway for battle.
When the armies of the west were trying to conquer the armies of the east, they had to travel through Israel. When the armies of the east were trying to conquer the west, they had to travel through Israel.
This land, since the beginning of time, has been at war.
This is why it will all end here, because even from here all things must be restored.
This is why the Savior will appear here, because of the Law of Opposition, where the greatest Light meets the greatest darkness.
The place is known as Armageddon, which is actually a derivative of the mis-pronunciation of Har- Meggido. It is the central crossing place on the main roads since the beginning of time, always the halfway point between empires – even today.
Our lesson from archeology shows how cities were built one on top of another, era after era, in identifiable layers, each using the ruins of the people before to build their civilization anew.
We know for history when the Ottomans ruled, and when the Byzantines were here, and the Romans before them.
But when you go far enough back, trying to decide between two cousins, it is more difficult to know who was here first. The Muslims say Ishmael, because he was oldest, while the Jews say Isaac, because he was given the inheritance.
This is the argument, with the Christians in the middle saying that if there had been no arguing, the Romans and the Byzantines and the Ottomans never would have conquered either group.
We see the same thing in the Book of Mormon, too, when the Nephites repeatedly get attacked only when they are busy arguing amongst themselves, and the Lamanites suffer when they would not let go of false traditions and embrace the truth.
The point of the story is the same as the goal of family therapy.
It isn’t about proving yourself right, so much as what you are doing to make peace.
It isn’t about proving the injustice caused by the other, so much as how you are actively forgiving.
It isn’t about what has been taken from you, so much as what you are willing to give.
That is atonement,
That is at-one-ment.
These are the covenants we share with our grandfather Abraham.
Without them, we betray not only our own fathers but also the grandfather we share, and the God who his father.
With them, we learn who God is, who our Father is, and who we are.
To keep our covenants that entitle us to Abraham’s blessing, we must live as he lived, with great faith that offers peace and actively forgives and is willing to give what is not earned.
The one thing that both Arabs and Israelis, Muslims and Jews can agree on, is their distaste for the west. They do note hate us (necessarily), but they think we are fools. They have watched us let our morality decline quickly by plain and simple ways, like modesty and pride and living outside our means. It is not us they are weary of, but the influences that have destroyed our families. We are an example to them of what not to do! And they are wise enough to pay attention. They know family is more important than anything else, and they shut out western influence in order to protect families. In many ways, they are wise for doing so.
We would have greater influence there if we would first focus on ourselves and careful for own families and children and if we could demonstrate an improved ability to keep our covenants, whether it is our government meaning what it says, our own families being top priority in our lives, or our individual efforts at being obedient to God. This is how they can help us, by holding us accountable, like the Lamanites did for the Nephites so long ago.
These are our choices: to be at war with our neighbors and cousins, or to humble ourselves before God and honor our father, even if that means following the example of the grandfather we share rather than focusing the differences between his sons.
Cousins should be family, not enemies.
Sometimes the best way to honor our fathers is to do things differently than the false traditions passed down to us. It honors our fathers when we do well, and choose wisely, and love God. We honor our fathers when we are obedient to the example of their fathers, and their fathers before them, and their fathers before them. We honor our fathers when we forgive, and make peace.
It is our first Father, even our Heavenly Father, that we most want to honor.
Sometimes it is our pride that must be the scapegoat, and our humility that is our sacrifice.
We cannot be His children if we do not act like it; acting like it is evidence that we are His children.
And to be adopted by Him, to truly be the children of God, we must give evidence we have chosen Him.
That’s the whole reason we are here.