A long time ago, some of my ancestors moved from Virginia to Kentucky. They read the Bible. They were devout Christians. Some of them became circuit-riding ministers of the Gospel throughout Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas. One of my relatives who was a circuit preacher was the evangelist Peter Cartwright, Jr., one of the more famous evangelists of early American history.
As the Tennessee River, Cumberland River, and Ohio River valleys became settled by American pioneers, there was a need for Justices of the Peace, and then, regular judges in the various counties. Some of my preacher relatives and ancestors became Justices of the Peace or Judges in Kentucky and elsewhere. My father's father was from Lyon County, Kentucky. Often I visited with relatives in or near Kentucky. Often I would hear stories of Kentucky Justice. I believe that the Middle East, especially Israel/Palestine, could use some Kentucky Justice to form A KENTUCKY SOLUTION TO THE ISRAEL-PALESTINE CONFLICT. Let me explain.
In Kentucky, when land would be sold, a deed would be signed. The buyer of the land would take the signed deed to the county courthouse to have it recorded. A trip to the county seat to file the deed at the county courthouse might take all day by horseback or horse-buggy. So, many times buyers would wait for a more convenient time to go to file their papers. Sometimes, people would go to the county seat to attend church on Sunday and stay overnight with some relatives or friends so that they could file papers at the courthouse on Monday and then return home.
Some dishonest scoundrels would take advantage of this system of delayed deed filing. The scoundrels would take money for their land and sign a deed to one buyer early in the week and then take money for their land and sign another deed to another buyer later in the week. Then, the cheating scoundrel would quickly leave Kentucky to go west to Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, or further west. The scoundrels would go far enough westward that it would be impractical to chase, capture, and punish them. Often, the scoundrels would change their names to make capturing them even more unlikely. At some time, often on Mondays, two innocent deed holders would arrive at the courthouse to file their deeds of ownership on the same property. When the new buyers discovered that each had a deed to the same property, a legal (and sometimes personal) conflict would arise. A court hearing would be held. The judge would ask questions of each of the buyers concerning the actual facts of the case and what each buyer had or had not done to protect his interests. Based on the facts, the judge would award the property to one of the parties or divide the property between the buyers in a way that seemed fair under the particular circumstances. Often, the judges would divide the property in half or in a way that gave half of the lands farmable property to each of the new owners. But, if one buyer had delayed more than the other, or should have known the poor reputation of the seller, or failed to observe some other reasonable practice, then the judge could make the split in a way that was not 50-50. But, usually, the judge would try to divide the land about half and half. Of course, each of the parties in the court wanted ALL THE LAND which was in dispute. But, in such cases, there was no perfect solution. In these cases, the judge would search for an imperfect solution which seemed fair to each of the parties under the circumstances. The important thing is that the judge would listen to both of the parties in the conflict before making a decision.
In a way, the Jews who want a homeland in Palestine and the Palestinians are victims of a double-cross similar to the innocent buyers of Kentucky land who were cheated by the double-deeding scoundrels of Americas frontier history. During World War One, the British were at war with Germany, Austria, and the Ottoman Empire. The British made various promises to Arabs that if the Arabs would help the British defeat the Ottoman Empire (the Turks), then Great Britain would liberate the Arab lands. It is in this period of history that a young British secret service agent named Thomas Edward Lawrence became known as Lawrence of Arabia. He befriended and fought with Arabs against Turks. When Lawrence finally discovered that his superiors in the British government had lied to him and had caused him to repeat British government lies to his Arab friends, he changed his name and tried to live in obscurity. He was embarrassed and ashamed that he had been used to lie to the Arabs about the British governments intentions toward the Middle East and Arab lands.
At the same time, the British government recruited Zionist Jews to help them defeat the Germans, Austrians, and Turks. Zionism began in the late 1800s as a movement to establish a homeland for Jews. Although other places in the world were considered, the Jewish leaders of the Zionist movement settled on Palestine for their goal. There were and still are different kinds or degrees of Zionists. For an independent Jewish state, some Zionists want part of Palestine, some Zionists want all of Palestine, and some Zionists want all of Palestine and much of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iraq, as described by Moses (Deuteronomy 1:7.) In 1917, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, leader of the Zionist movement, procured The Balfour Declaration from the British government. The Balfour Declaration stated that the British government favored the establishment of a national Jewish homeland in Palestine and that the British government would use its best efforts to help achieve that.
Also, during World War One, the British and French entered into a secret agreement known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement. By this pact, the British and French agreed that they would cooperate in dividing the Arab lands of the Fertile Crescent to make these lands the protectorate colonies of Britain and France.
Thus, the British made three conflicting promises concerning Arab lands of the Ottoman Empire: (1) to liberate all Arab lands, (2) to establish a Jewish national homeland in Palestine, and (3) to cooperate with the French in the dividing and taking of Arab lands as new British and French colonial protectorates. After World War One, the British and French worked together to divide the Arab lands. The French obtained Lebanon and Syria as protectorates. The British obtained Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, and Kuwait as protectorates.
At first, the Americans opposed the British and French plan to divide and take Arab lands. Woodrow Wilson and the Americans did not like the idea of America entering the war and accidentally helping the British and French to acquire more colonies. The Americans wanted to grant liberty and independence to the Arabs immediately. But, Woodrow Wilsons health was beginning to fail. The British and French pressed him hard to let them take the Arab lands. The tired and ill Woodrow Wilson agreed only after the British and French assured him that the occupation of Arab lands would be temporary so that the British and French could teach Arabs about democracy.
The Americans never had any desire to conquer Arab lands. The Americans distinguished themselves from the Europeans again in the 1930s when oil was discovered in Saudi Arabia. Various European governments and companies tried to trick or arm-twist the Saudi Arabian royalty into making deals which effectively cheated Arabs terribly. But, the Americans offered to pay the Saudi Arabians the real-world, real-market value for their oil. The Saudi Arabians liked the honest, no-nonsense business approach which the Americans took. The Americans won the right to drill and market Saudi Arabian oil. The Americans paid the Saudi Arabian government exactly as promised. Because American businessmen dealt honestly and fairly with the Saudi Arabians, the Saudi Arabians understood that there were big differences between the Europeans and the Americans. The Saudi Arabian royalty liked the Americans much more. To this day, American diplomats owe a great debt to the American oilmen who demonstrated that Americans want to be friends with Saudi Arabia and its neighbors.
The Balfour Declaration Becomes Public
The Balfour Declaration obtained by Dr. Chaim Weizmann was intended to be a secret document. It did not become public until the Allied Council incorporated provisions of it in the British mandate of Palestine in the 1920s. The objective of the British government was to get the assistance of Jews in the Zionist movement to defeat Germany, Austria, and the Ottoman Empire. Most of the world and most Jews knew NOTHING about the Balfour Declaration during World War One. The Balfour Declaration was intended to motivate or assure only the dedicated Zionists of the Jewish community. At the beginning of World War One, Britain was concerned that the United States of America might enter the war on the side of Germany. Because of a flood of German immigrants during the 1800s, in 1914 over half of all Americans were GERMAN-AMERICANS. But, Jewish Americans owned some of Americas major newspapers in New York, Baltimore, St. Louis, and elsewhere. Some believe that the Balfour Declaration was a reward to Dr. Chaim Weizmann and other Zionists for influencing Jewish American newspaper owners to slant the war news against the Germans to help bring America into the war on the side of the British and French. For example, reporting of the sinking of the Lusitania was very harsh against the Germans despite the fact that the Lusitania was being used to transport military munitions and the German consulate issued warnings and paid for advertisements in some New York newspapers to alert civilians not to board such ships.
After World War One, as details of the Balfour Declaration became public, a growing number of Germans began to believe that Adolph Hitler and the National Socialists (Nazis) might be right about their goal of expelling Jews from Germany. Although most Jews knew NOTHING about the Balfour Declaration during World War One, some Jews were involved in revolutionary efforts towards the end of the war and after the wars end in Germany. The Germans had lived in relative peace with Jews for about 500 years. Jews enjoyed tremendous freedoms in Germany. But the Balfour Declaration, as it became public, began to cast suspicion and resentment toward all Jews in Germany. Many Jews left Germany prior to the outbreak of World War Two. Before and after World War Two, many European Jews fled to British controlled Palestine.
During British control of Palestine, Jews were allowed limited emigration to Palestine. Arabs resented this as another example of British deception and betrayal. There were many conflicts in which Arabs killed Jews. In 1929 over 130 Jews were killed in one attack at the Wailing Wall. Other Jewish communities were attacked and some were nearly slaughtered completely. But, Palestinians were not the only terrorists. Jewish terrorist organizations started attacking both the British and Palestinians. The most notorious of these Jewish terrorist groups were the Irgun Zvai Leumi, lead by Menachem Begin, and the Stern Gang, with Yitzhak Shamir as one of its leaders. Also, a secret Jewish army called the Hagannah started stealing weapons from the British to use against Palestinians. Officially, Jewish community leaders disapproved of terrorism, but they did not cooperate with the British to capture and punish Jewish terrorists. The British grew tired of trying to keep the peace in Palestine and they left in May 1948 when Israel became an independent state. War between the Jews and the Arabs started immediately.
The Israelis, the Palestinians, and their Arab neighbors manage to find enough reasons to fight. They don't need anyone's help. But, sometimes, some parties help to create the excuse for conflict in the region to serve some other purpose. In 1956, the French began using their diplomats to stir trouble and conflict between Israel and Egypt. The British learned that the French were doing something and demanded an explanation from the French. The French explained the plan and took the British as a partner in the scheme. War between Egypt and Israel started and the Israelis pushed all the way to the Suez Canal. At that point the British and French sent their forces to the region to secure the Suez Canal for international commerce. My cousin President Dwight Eisenhower learned of the treachery of the French and British and HE WAS FURIOUS. Eisenhower demanded that the French and British leave the Suez Canal immediately or he would send American forces to drive them from the Suez Canal. Then, President Eisenhower explained what had happened to the Egyptians and the Israelis and persuaded the Israelis to withdraw from the Egyptian Sinai. Again, I want to emphasize that the Americans had a very different attitude than the British and French.
In 1967, the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and other countries organized themselves along the Israeli borders to attack. Israel did not wait to be attacked, but struck preemptively. Although other conflicts and truces have occurred since then, the borders achieved during that war are effectively the borders of Israel today, except for the return of the Sinai to Egypt.
The Search for Peace
At various times during the periods of conflict and peace, some Palestinians have fled Palestine to live in refugee camps in neighboring countries. Some Palestinians have remained within the borders of Israel. The major question of the region is how to achieve peaceful co-existence between Israeli Jews and Palestinians?
Some Israeli Jews and their supporters claim that all the Palestinians should leave Israel and move to neighboring countries. After all, they argue, the Palestinians are Arabs and they should live with their Arab relatives in neighboring countries.
This argument is ridiculous. The several countries of the Fertile Crescent were Arab land prior to World War One, but Palestine was a special, almost separate, part of it. The Palestinians who lived there were somewhat distinct from their Arab neighbors. Palestine was their homeland and it had a unique history which was unlike other Arab lands. Imagine if the United Nations decided that Mexican-Americans in Texas should have Texas as their homeland and all Anglo-Americans should leave Texas to move to Arkansas, Oklahoma, or elsewhere. Do you really believe that the Anglo-Texans would cooperate without resistance to the United Nations edict? I don't believe that the Texans would or should cooperate. Neither do I believe that the Palestinians would or should cooperate with United Nations or other foreign edicts which consider none of the historical facts about the region.
Lets review both the modern and the ancient history of the region and its people and then lets apply some Kentucky Justice.
Some of the Zionists claim that all of Palestine is land promised to the Jews by an ancient covenant between God and Abraham, their patriarch. Unfortunately for those Zionists and their many supporters, THAT IS NOT TRUE.
By examining biblical scripture, we can establish that God never promised all of the promised land to the Jews. The scripture teaches that God gave it to the Israelites on condition that they obeyed Gods laws. The people who became the Jews were only part of the Israelites. So, God gave to those Israelites who became the Jews only the southernmost part of the promised land. The assertion of some Zionists that the Jews have a right to all of the promised land is a merit-less claim.
Imagine that a grandfather divides a piece of land and gives half of it to one grandson and the other half to another grandson and that the grandsons are cousins. If both cousins leave the land given to them by their grandfather due to some calamity, and innocent people later occupy the land, should the descendants of one of the cousins be able to return to the land, claim both halves for themselves and force the innocent occupants off the land? I don't believe that is fair. Do you? Likewise, the descendants of the people of the southern part of the ancient kingdom of Israel do not have a right to claim land which was given to their northern cousins.
Also, I have heard misguided people claim that the Bible states that God wants the Jews to drive away the inhabitants of the promised land. The verses cited to prove this were written about three thousand years ago. At the time, all the Israelites were commanded to conquer the people who inhabited the promised land then because those inhabitants were evil idol worshippers who sacrificed human babies to idols and committed other evil practices. The Christian, Jewish, and Moslem Palestinians who occupied the promised land in the beginning of the twentieth century were not idol worshippers. There is no command from God to drive the Palestinians from their land.
Which Israel Do You Mean?
Originally, the Abrahamic Covenant was a promise by God to Abraham that his children would inherit the land. At the time, which children was not specified. Abraham had the son Ishmael, whom he later rejected and sent into the desert. The Arab people trace their ancestry to Ishmael. Later, Isaac was born. Then Isaac's son Jacob was born. Jacob changed his name to Israel. Now here is where the confusion begins. There are several meanings of the word Israel in the Bible:
(1) Jacob, the patriarch (Genesis 32:28 & 35:10);
(2) All the tribes of Israel which settled the Promised Land;
(3) The northern tribes of the Kingdom of Israel alone after it split from the southern tribes of the kingdom after King Solomon's death;
(4) The remnants of the northern tribes (Israelites / Samaritans);
(5) The remnants of the northern and southern tribes (Israelites / Samaritans and Jews);
(6) Figuratively, as Gods spiritual kingdom or heaven;
(7) Figuratively, as Christians being part of a spiritual Israel.
I am sure that other meanings of Israel could be discovered in the Bible if one searched long enough. In addition to these definitions of Israel from the Bible, there is the modern definition of Israel as the Jewish state. So, when someone discusses Israel, which Israel is meant? Many of my friends insist that today's Jewish state of Israel is the Israel predicted by various verses of the Bible. They are surprised when I challenge that belief.
Originally, the term Israel meant the patriarch Jacob. Then, Israel meant all the descendants of all the tribes named after the sons of Israel. At that time, the terms Hebrew and Israelite were synonymous (Genesis 10:21-25). After the death of King Solomon, the northern tribes asked Solomon's son to reduce the heavy taxes imposed by Solomon. Solomon's son Jeroboam refused and the northern tribes seceded under the kingship of Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:1-33). After this split, the northern tribes became known as Israel. The Bible then starts to refer to northern tribesmen as Israelites or the house of Israel and to the southern tribesmen as Jews or the house of Judah. The territorial areas of the various tribes had been decided by lot by Joshua (Joshua 14:1-5). The Bible seems to teach that the lot by Joshua had divine guidance from God. (The conquered lands of Canaan were allotted to the remaining nine and a half tribes of Israel. The decision as to which tribe would receive which area was decided by throwing dice before the Lord, and he caused them to turn up in the ways he wanted. Joshua 14: 1,2; The Living Bible, Paraphrased; Tyndale House Publishers; Wheaton, Illinois.) The southern kingdom was composed of all the tribe of Judah and portions of the tribes of Benjamin, and Levi. All the rest of the tribes of Israel formed the northern kingdom. The capital of the southern kingdom was in Jerusalem, practically on the border between the two kingdoms. The capital of the northern kingdom moved several times until Omri became king of the northern tribes and established a permanent capital at Samaria (1 Kings 16:24). It is after this that the people in the southern kingdom gradually began to call the northern tribesmen Samaritans. The relationship between the Israelites or Samaritans of the northern kingdom and the Jews of the southern kingdom often changed from friendship to envy and conflict. This weakened both kingdoms.
Eventually, neighboring countries took advantage of the weakened kingdoms. The Assyrians invaded and took thousands of Samaritans captive and removed them to other parts of the Assyrian empire. Likewise, the Assyrians brought foreigners to Samaria to compete for land and resources with the Samaritans who remained. Later, the Babylonians attacked the southern kingdom and took away thousands of Jews as captives to settle other Babylonian areas. In each case, the Assyrians and Babylonians took the well educated upper class, the skilled craftsmen, and the important political and religious leaders into captivity while leaving the rest of the Samaritans and Jews in Palestine without the benefit of leaders (who might lead rebellions against the conquerors). Later, the Medes and Persians conquered first the Assyrians and then the Babylonians. The Medes and Persians allowed the captive people to return to their homelands if they chose to do so. The Samaritans in Assyrian territories were allowed to return home to Palestine. But, there is no distinct record of the return of any Samaritans in the Bible because the latter books of the Old Testament were written by Jews who were mostly concerned with the return of some of the Jews from Babylonia. Most of the Jews in captivity remained in what had been Babylonia until about 1100 A.D. because living there was more profitable than living in the old kingdom in Palestine.
The Samaritans had intermarried with some of the foreigners. So, their blood was not completely Hebrew. This was one of the reasons that the Jews looked down on the Samaritans. But, after the return of Jews from Babylon, some of the Jewish leaders began forcing non-Jews to accept Judaism. After that, the Jews began to intermarry with converted foreigners. By the time that Jesus of Nazareth lived, substantial numbers of Samaritans and Jews were not purely Hebrew or Israelite.
Christian and Moslem Eras
In the early Christian era, first Jews, then Samaritans, then Gentiles (non-Hebrews) began to convert to Christianity. Among these Christians, intermarriage became common. The Christians became the majority in the area for centuries. Even after the Arab Moslems took political control of Palestine, the Christians and Jews were the majority of the population of Palestine for hundreds of years.
Throughout most of the Moslem rule of Palestine, Moslems respected Christians and Jews as "brothers of the Book" and lived in peace with them. But there were some Moslems who came to power in Palestine and began campaigns to slaughter Christians and Jews. This reduced the Christian and Jewish population some. But, the Moslem practice of taxing Christians and Jews but not taxing Moslems caused a gradual conversion to Islam by substantial numbers of Christians and Jews. Once the former Christians and Jews converted to Islam, intermarriage with their Arab Moslem brethren became common.
It is for this reason that Palestinian Arabs are different from their Arab relatives in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, Libya, and elsewhere. The Palestinian Arabs are part Samaritan and Jew! The Palestinian Arabs are descendants of Abraham through Ishmael as their Arab relatives are. But, the Palestinian Arabs, like the Palestinian Jews and Christians, are descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, also. If the criteria for a scriptural right to live in Palestine is that one must be a descendant of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, then the Palestinians, including the Palestinian Arabs, comply with that criteria and have a scriptural right to live in Palestine.
It is unfortunate that the British governments lies and broken promises during World War One brought the Palestinians and Israeli Jews into inevitable conflict. It is similar to the situation in early Kentucky in which two innocent purchasers of land were put into conflict by a scoundrel who purported to sell the same property to each buyer. Some division of the land must be accomplished in a way that respects each party.
In 1947, the United Nations, lead by Britain and France, and heavily influenced by Zionists, purported to divide Palestine between the Jews and the Palestinians. But, that division gave almost all the good land to the Jews and almost nothing but desert to the Palestinians. Furthermore, the division demonstrated that only the interests of Zionists were being considered, rather than the interests of both Jews and Palestinians with a healthy respect of their histories.
A Fair and Reasonable Solution
I propose a KENTUCKY SOLUTION in which both the Jews and the Palestinians, and their histories are respected. The Jews are the descendants of the southern part of the ancient Kingdom of Israel. If you believe in the divine guidance of God during Joshua's lot, then Jews never were meant to have any part of northern Palestine. The southern kingdom never completely defeated the Philistines. The unconquered Philistine territory roughly equates to the Gaza strip of today. King Solomon did have a fleet of merchant ships on the Red Sea. Taking this historical record of the extent of the southern kingdom into consideration, and applying a Kentucky Justice sense of fairness, I propose the following KENTUCKY SOLUTION:
1. The Gaza strip shall be a part of the Palestinian homeland.
2. The southern borders of Israel shall remain as they are, with access to the Red Sea.
3. The northern border of modern Israel shall be moved to approximate the border between the northern kingdom of Israel with the southern kingdom. The northernmost cities of the ancient Jewish kingdom were Jericho, Jerusalem, and Joppa.
4. All Israeli territories north of the new boundary shall be returned to the Palestinians. This includes Tel Aviv and Haifa.
5. The Golan Heights shall be returned to Syria.
6. Jerusalem shall not be in Israel nor in Palestine, but in an international territory controlled by an international force. The border between Israel and Palestine shall run through Jerusalem.
7. A buffer territory of approximately two miles along the borders between Palestine and Gaza with Israel shall be controlled and patrolled by an international force for an undetermined time until the international community believes that such a buffer and international force is not needed to maintain peace between the Palestinians and Israeli Jews. All of Jerusalem, and a reasonable area around the city, shall be within the buffer territory.
8. Establish a timetable for a gradual migration of people to the territories described so that Israeli Jews live in Israel and Palestinians live in the Palestinian homeland.
9. Allow all Palestinians now living in neighboring countries to return to the newly created Palestinian homeland.
10. Establish an agreement among the new Israel, the new Palestinian homeland, and their neighbors for mutual respect of the borders established under such a KENTUCKY SOLUTION.
Many will resist the KENTUCKY SOLUTION which I have proposed. I am sure of that. Some who disagree with me will attack my motive for this proposal because for them it will be easier to attack that rather than attack my logic. So, let me state my motive clearly. I am a Zionist because I believe it is right for Jewish people to have an independent homeland where there is a close historical and emotional connection to the land. But, I want to give Palestinians the respect and friendship which they deserve. My motive is to promote peace. To do that I must be against allowing the Jewish State of Israel to occupy land which never was part of the ancient Jewish kingdom because that would be totally unfair to the Palestinians. My Kentucky Solution looks to the history of the area and its people to carve a solution which respects everyone.
The Best Imperfect Solution
Eventually, much of the world will agree with this solution even if it is not within my lifetime. I admit that it is not a perfect solution. But, there is no perfect solution in such a situation. To many Israeli Jews and their supporters around the world, getting rid of all Palestinians in the area would be a perfect solution. To many Palestinians and their supporters, getting rid of all Israeli Jews in the area would be a perfect solution. I reject both of these so-called perfect solutions. Instead, I have proposed what I believe is the very best imperfect solution in this imperfect world. If I were speaking to a group of people who were very interested in this idea of a KENTUCKY SOLUTION, then I could speak at length and in more detail. But, the purpose of this writing is simply to introduce the world to this idea which I believe will promote a just peace in the area. To the Israeli Jews and the Palestinians, I urge that you realize that you are more closely related than you might have thought. Treat each other as family. Follow the example of your patriarch father Abraham when he gave his nephew Lot a choice of which land to take because he did not want enmity between his family and Lots family (Genesis 13: 8,9). Please, do what Abraham would do: DIVIDE THE LAND AND LIVE IN PEACE!
P. O. Box 744
Griffith, Indiana 46319
Woodrow Wilcox welcomes opportunities to speak about a
Kentucky Solution and other important topics.
A Personal Note
In late March 2002, I had lunch with a friend who informed me of the news about the Israeli government's attacks on Palestinians. My friend supported the Israeli action and I did not. My friend is a good and reasonable man. But, he was ignorant about the Middle East. It was obvious to me that he was very misinformed. In that meeting, I realized how misinformed the average American is regarding the Israel/Palestine issue. I experienced a strong, deep impression to research and write something which would both inform the public and promote peace.
In the nearly eight months since then, I have allowed my personal life and finances to suffer a bit while I pursued what I believed was both the noble and holy task of writing about a Kentucky Solution. I believe that I did the right thing. I believe that God will help me to recover and that He will bless me in other ways, also. I state this because I know that I will be attacked by those who dislike the idea of a Kentucky Solution. I want the world to know that I wrote this with sincerity and sacrifice.