Who ownes the Holy Land? By Lloyd Geering
Published by St Andrews Trust for teh study of Religion and Society
Review by Alan Goss
Lloyd Geering, in typical trademark fashion, compresses much into very little space.
This booklet comprises lectures delivered to large audiences at St Andrews-on-the-Terrace in October 2001, and very topical they proved to be. The events of September 11 in New York gave them an ever sharper edge than originally envisaged.
The four chapters cover both the Jewish and Palestinian claims to the Holy Land, the British responsibility, and the critical question, "Who resolves the conflict?" The author avoids giving the reader soft answers, the background to the nightmarish scenes seen regularly on our television screens is scrupulously analysed and blame apportioned where it seems due. Not all have felt comfortable with the position the author takes though they may want to explore the issues further and deepen their understanding of the complexities involved.
In his assessment of the Jewish and Palestinian claims to the Holy Land no-one can accuse Prof.
Geering of bias. He shows clearly how both sides have strong claims to the same piece of territory, each producing ace cards such as the promises of God and long-standing ancestral ties. This is a no-win situation and no solution seems to be in sight. Prof. Geering identifies the long and complex train of events which occurred during the time of British nile in Palestine 1918-1948, e.g. the emergence of Zionism, the League of Nations mandate, the impetus for Jewish immigration to the Holy Land resulting from Nazi persecution and the U.N. plans for partitioning Palestine. The reader is given an excellent summary of the twists and turns which racked Palestine during this 30-year period and which sowed the seed of conflict between Israeli and Palestinian and the growing confrontation between the Islamic and western worlds. Prof. Geering does proffer a prospect for peace in the Holy Land but only when both factions "become incorporated into one, religiously neutral, state | Jerusalem, he says, remains to this day a pow- | erful symbol for the world and of the international tensions within it. The conflict and the violence in that land is not yet over, it may well explode into all-out war. What the westemn world has to learn is that neither daisy-cutter bombs nor crusade-type rhetoric, while they may provide a facade for order, do not bring peace. As Prof. Geering concludes, "When we have found a way of establishing peace in the Holy Land we shall have some chance of creating a stable, global peace." This little booklet is definitely a tract for our times.