THE WESTERN LEVANT
Enrique Aboitiz Mendieta
2018 – July
WHAT A FORTNIGHT IN THE WESTERN LEVANT TAUGHT ME FROM ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE!
Arafat died with 750 million US dollars in his personal estate. Had it not been for the creation of the State of Israel, he would have been known to his mother at most. The Jews had been forgotten before World War II. Where is the Coptic Church, anybody? Who would give a care about the Mossad? The only reason the Arabs want the Holy Land is that the Israelis, their cousins, wish to it! These are the questions.
Peace in the Middle East would mean that they would become insignificant. Do you think Netanyahu would get an audience at the White House had their been peace? Who would continue to give Palestine money if there were peace? Where would the Palestinian politicians source the money they need for themselves?
I have never seen a more significant interest in commerce ever than in the City of Jerusalem — it means the City of Peace (“Jeru-Shalem”). Everyone is a capitalist after your money including all the many churches, from Armenians to the Muslims.
Here we have the most extensive land grabbing event in history, and done mostly by churches all in the name of the same God — the Franciscans that express poverty, the Muslims that represent peace, the Armenians that are significant landowners collecting rent, the Ethiopians that are the poorest because they work the least, the Greek Orthodox Church and the Russian Church — all selling everyone from Holy Water to Rosewater for a profit and with their hands out for collection.
They have all milked the same story. It is Holy for everyone, but they have all killed for thousands of years for the same God. How do different people kill each other in the name of the same God? They all claim infinite value for each of their services but keep asking you to do it over and over again, paying over and over again.
The one we all know well is the Sacrament of the Mass — it has infinite value, but you have to go every Sunday. I guess they are endless as a different number of zeros. They all put in your mind where you have sinned and the need to go to them to cleanse them. Now, it was the God that they all pray to absolve them of sin for the entry to a Heaven they invented, that created you as a sinner.
Jerusalem has nothing to offer in geography nor wealth. Apparently, it was the intermediary for all the family feuds of the region, and it charged for it, or so my guide explained to me to help me understand why it is what it is. Myths, charge, more myths, charge, fight, charge, more stories, charge, more holiness charge.
Israel has a GDP if 350 billion a year — it is desert. Palestine has a GDP of 8 billion. Now, how can a two-state solution function? And if it is, or is not, will it really matter? The American government has given the Israelis something like 90 billion US dollars from the start and is committed to another 40 billion for the next 10 years. The American Jews have probably matched that amount. All this noise to help a patch of people with an economy of 8 billion of which a significant bulk must be business with their enemies the Israelis? The Palestinians buy 4 or 5 billion US dollars a year from the Israelis and sell them a fourth of that. Israel buys fruits and vegetables from Jordan; what is it buying? Cheaper water? Israeli water costs much more than Jordanian water so why will they produce fruit and vegetable?
Sins of omission? Should we be held accountable? That question is asked among the Jews in Israel. Should the Holy See be held responsible for its blatant and, arguably shameful, behavior during WW II as it stayed neutral as the Jewish race in Europe was being annihilated by the Nazi apparatus? Arguably, Christianity started antisemitism blaming the Jews for the deicide of Christ. Europe had been, over centuries, prepared to stand aside, to a high degree, as the Holocaust unfolded. Queen Isabella expelled the Sephardic Jews from Spain.
Lebanon is rebuilding. I ask myself why they have almost as many Palestinian and Syrian refugees as their own population. Proximity is one answer and, maybe, aid is another. How much of that aid for the refugees has become a business for the country?
Jordan seems well managed. It is clean. It is beautiful. It seems progressive. There may be an argument for a strong constitutional monarch? Is this, I ask, not the model behind successful family-managed and led corporations? You need some democracy and you need some long-term controlled autocracy that uses its power for both sustainability and long-term value building.
On the Sabbath at Jerusalem, they will not serve you hot food. They may not use heat from their religion not allowing them to use fire. Now, they can use energy if on a timer. Where did we Catholics learn our pragmatism? I wonder.