Monday, July 23, 2012

Mormons on Israel and the Palestinians

Since Mitt Romney is the likely GOP presidential nominee, his Mormon faith, and how it might influence his policies on war and peace in the Mideast, will likely be key issues in the 2012 race.

There is reason to believe that Romney, like most past U.S. presidents, will be blindly pro-Israel. The New York Times has reported on the close friendship between Romney and Bibi Netanyahu ("A Friendship Dating to 1976 Resonates in 2012," by Michael Barbaro, April 7, 2012):

[I]n 1976, the lives of Mitt Romney and Benjamin Netanyahu intersected, briefly but indelibly, in the 16th-floor offices of the Boston Consulting Group, where both had been recruited as corporate advisers. At the most formative time of their careers, they sized each other up during the firm's weekly brainstorming sessions, absorbing the same profoundly analytical view of the world.

That shared experience decades ago led to a warm friendship, little known to outsiders, that is now rich with political intrigue.

Mr. Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, is making the case for military action against Iran as Mr. Romney, the likely Republican presidential nominee, is attacking the Obama administration for not supporting Mr. Netanyahu more robustly.

That's not good news for peaceniks.

But if Romney is elected, I hope he will recall that the Mormon faith advocates an even-handed approach to Jewish-Israeli/Muslim-Arab relations.

I'm no expert on the Mormon faith, but I was pleased to find this on an LDS website ("Orson Hyde's 1841 Mission to the Holy Land," by David B. Galbraith, October 1991):

It was perhaps inevitable that the gathering of the Jews and the creation of their modern nation would lead to a clash between political zionism and Arab nationalism. Few members of the Church fully appreciate the dimensions of this confrontation. In what has become a classic address, President Howard W. Hunter observed:

"Our Father loves all of his children. He desires all of them to embrace the gospel and come unto him. Only those are favored who obey him and keep his commandments.

"As members of the Lord's church, we need to lift our vision beyond personal prejudices. We need to discover the supreme truth that indeed our Father is no respecter of persons. Sometimes we unduly offend brothers and sisters of other nations by assigning exclusiveness to one nationality of people over another.

"...Both the Jews and the Arabs are children of our Father. They are both children of promise, and as a church we do not take sides. We have love for and an interest in each. The purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ is to bring about love, unity, and brotherhood of the highest order."

Some of our Arab/Palestinian friends express concern about Elder Hyde's prayer because they feel anything that favors the Jews must oppose them. On the other hand, some of our Jewish friends have a tendency to interpret the prayer as conferring political support for their cause. Even members of the Church are sometimes confused as to how the prayer is to be understood.

The scriptures and the modern prophets clearly teach that all father Abraham's children have a place in the Lord's plan, and our Arab/ Palestinian friends are a part of this group.

Latter-day Saints need to be more sensitive to the hurt, disappointment, and even anger created among our Arab/Palestinian friends when we blindly attribute divine approbation to all that takes place in that part of the world we call the Holy Land.

Also read the Catholic Church's position on Islam.

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