Since the times of the Bible, the land now called the nation-state of Israel was to be a homeland for the persecuted Jewish people, as a historic, ethnic and religious entity. Now, as a modern, secular democracy, Judaism is not even a required religion of its citizens, similar to the United Kingdom, which officially exists as an Anglican state. Like the U.K., Israel grants freedom of religion to all its citizens and legal residents.
Islam's 50-plus religious "democracies," republics, monarchies or emirates boldly establish Islam as the official religion and its human-rights-restrictive Sharia Law as the "principal source of legislation." It results in a) laws against religious apostasy (renouncing or changing religions), blasphemy (stifling freedom of expression) and (b) laws in approval of demeaning women or minority identity groups and, in some cases, even slavery.
However, in the modern nation of Israel, members of all other religions and ethnic groups are respected as full citizens. They may vote, serve as lawmakers and judges, and maybe more significantly, freely worship in protected places.
Israel's new "nation-state law" states the obvious, that its 70-year-old nation was established by world powers as "a homeland for the Jewish people," in a land which has had over three millennia of Jewish presence and influence.
Now, President Trump is reported to be planning to introduce his administration's peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians at the United Nations in late September. He has hinted that Israel may not like it and that both parties need to be willing to give a little.
Unless he accounts for the religious-supremacist basis of the Palestinians' historic recalcitrance, long-lasting results for peace in the region will remain an Arabian night's dream.
Ordained to the ministry in 1969, Gary Curtis is a graduate of LIFE Bible College at Los Angeles (soon to become Life Pacific University at San Dimas, California). He has taken graduate courses at Trinity College in Deerfield, Illinois. and Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. Gary served as part of the pastoral staff of The Church on The Way, the First Foursquare Church of Van Nuys, California, for 27 years (1988-2015), the last 13 years as the vice president of Life on The Way Communications Inc., the church's not-for-profit media outreach. Now retired, Gary and his wife have been married for 50 years and live in Southern California. They have two married daughters and five grandchildren.
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