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Land For People

08/18/2005

Israeli police clear out settlers in the Gaza Strip. (AP photo)

The heartrending images of Israeli settlers being forced out of their homes by their own government evoke an array of emotions -- sympathy for many decent people, confusion over the wisdom of the political solution, and hope for future peace, to express a few.

One truth stands out in all of this turmoil: Peace cannot be bartered. No amount of money can change the hearts of suicide bombers. All of the desert sand in the world would not pacify some evil men, bent on the destruction of others even at the cost of their own lives. So how about a new way of looking at the evacuation of the settlements? How about a revolutionary concept in the struggling peace process? How about "Land For People"?

In the Old Testament, Abram, a father figure in Judaism, Islam and Christianity, and his nephew, Lot, found that their occupation of the same land caused problems among the people. So Abram said to Lot, "Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Let's part company. If you go to the left, I'll go to the right; if you go to the right, I'll go to the left." Both were well entrenched in their place. Both had rightful claims to the land. But they gave up land for their people and, in the process, found peace.

Abram, the true leader of the people, gave Lot his choice in the land. Lot chose the more bountiful, fruitful terrain. Yet it was Abram and his descendants who ultimately prospered the most.

God promises to give land to His people all throughout the Torah. It is in the Divine Nature of God to give -- even to give away land. God also promised the Israelites that they would be in a position to give to others: "For the Lord your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none." The pullout of the Gaza Strip amounts to a "lending" of land to the displaced people of Palestine.

Christians are specifically instructed by Jesus to "love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back." Yet many Christians in this country have resisted "lending" land to the Palestinians. Christ also said, "if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles." The point: do good things for bad people; give them more than they ask for. Because this goes against much of human nature, it requires a Divine enabling to act with such grace and forgiveness.

The multitude of sins in the Middle East is well documented: broken promises, wounded spirits, shattered lives. For decades, world leaders have tried, and failed, to bring lasting peace to the region. All the while, far too many men, women and children -- most of them innocent -- live in terror, oppression, poverty and hopelessness. Only one thing can bring healing to this land: the power of real, demonstrable love. Such love may require giving land -- not for peace, but for people. I pray for those experiencing the tumult of dislocation, especially after enduring so many difficult years of fear and death. I weep with those who weep, but anxiously anticipate the day when I can rejoice with those who rejoice.


Author: James Robison

Word Count: 580

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, an international humanitarian aid ministry; host of the television program, Life Today; and author of The Absolutes.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, randy.robison at loi.org

Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.