Origins of Middle Eastern Conflict

27 Mar


Seth: The conflict in the Middle East doesn’t yield as much publicity now that the US is fully involved in Iraq. However, the conflict there continues to rage. While there are many in the Middle East that work for peace, there are also many who seek the destruction of Israel. But why?

With so much fervor and hate between the different groups of people in the Middle East, I couldn’t help but question the origins of the conflict phenomenon.

The State of Israel was created as a homeland in Palestine for Jews in an area controlled by the British Empire following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War 1. In 1948 Israel declared independence, and thus began the first attacks on that nation by its Arab neighbors. The tensions that began in 1948 have lasted almost 60 years, but that wasn’t the beginning. In the Diaspora, Jews were subjected to hate crimes and ethnic cleansing, which means that violence against them for matters concerning their heritage was nothing new. In fact, the conflict can be traced to a story of two brothers, Issac and Ishmael.

Within the Bible, there is an incredible story about a man named Abraham. We now know Abraham to be the father of many nations, but there was once a time when he was the father to no one. According to the story, when Abraham was 85, I felt extreme pressure to produce heirs. Sure, 85 today ain’t what it used to be, but the Bible tells us that it was still an old age to have children at.

So, before the time of fertility clinics and drugs, there was the maid. Abraham’s wife Sarah gave him permission to sleep with her maid so he might have a son. This was a great sacrifice on her behalf, and later the maid, Hagar, would realize it was a sacrifice on her part as well. Abraham got Hagar pregnant and she gave birth to Ishmael. While she was pregnant, God said to her, “He will be a wild donkey of a man…and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.” (Gen. 16:12).

Thirteen years later (great timing, right?) God comes to Abraham and promises to fulfill his covenant and bring Abraham a son. And he does. Herein lies our problem. Abraham had Ishmael so he would have an heir. Although he had Ishmael with another woman, Ishmael was still accepted into the family. Now he has a son with his wife, the son through whom God will establish “a great nation”; not Ishmael.

Although God promises to bless him and multiply his descendants, you can see where the tension is born. Once Isaac is born, he is recognized as Abraham’s heir. Jealous, Ishmael mocks the young child and is sent into the desert with his mother by Sarah. Thus began the two paths that led to Judaism and Islam. Islamic traditions teach a different story: that Ishmael was the true heir, and that the Jews changed the story. They (the Muslims) contend the Abrahamic covenant was established through Ishmael and that the land is theirs, not the Jews. This is why for a great deal of them, the State of Israel is an affront to Islam that must be destroyed.

I should note, that at the end of Abraham’s life, after all the bitterness and jealousy the two brothers, Isaac and Ishmael came together to bury their father in peace.


Ray: I find it amazing that a conflict could extend so long between groups of people, within one region, and who are all related. But no matter how I feel about it, the conflict is real and has continued to endure beyond any logical man’s (and woman’s) comprehension. To me, it doesn’t appear that there is a common sense way to end this conflict.

I also find it amazing that Americans have become more knowledgeable about the Middle Eastern people and territories, almost more so than people know the make-up of our own country. The US has basically throw itself right into the middle of a two-thousand year old conflict. Thus, the origin for the US involvement in the Middle Eastern conflict marks a period in history when the rest of the world was forced to get involved.

The conflicts in the middle are a very important issues to us and it’s something that we hope to make you think about in a different light than what main steam media tells us to think. For instance, consider the following scenario:

The United States is known for being a majority Christian nation. As such, most politicians often have a deep sense of Christian values which certainly influence our domestic and foreign policy. Now imagine a very large Christian based organization that has major political influence. This Christian organization is not only widely trusted in the US, but also in many different parts of the world.

As part of this organization’s principals, one of the major concepts states that, “The Bible commands us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6) to speak out for Zion’s sake (Isaiah 62:1), to be watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem (Isaiah 62:6) and to bless the Jewish people (Genesis 12:3).”

Now visit:

Other sources of our involvement in the Middle East stem from the fact that Israel is the only democratic nation in that region. To many in the US, Israel is an oasis in the desert (no pun intended) and a beacon of democracy and capitalistic values in a largely Muslim region. Muslim extremist nations already feel a historic obligation to reclaim the land of Israel, even if it means the destruction of the Jewish people. Add the United States as a mortal enemy for defending Israel and blocking a two-thousand year old inheritance and you have the makings of a potentially explosive situation (also no pun intended).

I say this because it’s important for us to realize that we are a part of this conflict and the potential for a World War 3 is sustained by the activity in the Middle East. I don’t know the solutions to these problems, but somehow our leaders will have to provide answers. We’ve seen George Bush’s answer, and now the questions have grown in number and complexity. What do we do next?

Middle East



One Response to “Origins of Middle Eastern Conflict”

  1. adjacent2jason February 17, 2010 at 6:54 pm #

    Prior to the arrival of the prophet muahammad, and the revelation of islam. The arabic nation was wicked, and lost. I guess it’s save to said that the line of ishmael is a cursed. Which leads me to said that humans in general are cursed, lost, and an accident. But I wont get into that.

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