Peace and justice in Palestine

Image: Pille Kirsi


The three great Abrahamic religions have the same concept of justice and peace: justice that does not only look at the nation itself, but looks at others

In times of war when we are saddened to see death, suffering and the feeling of hatred that dominates the Holy Land, we must remember the words of Louis Massignon:[1] “During my missions, I tried to reconstruct Abraham's itinerary, from 'Lech-Lechá' (Genesis 12, 1) to 'Hineni' (Genesis 21, 2). I left Ur, in Chaldea, and went to Harran and Bersheba, where Abraham abandoned his eldest son Ishmael. I went to Mambré, where he asked forgiveness from Sodom, and finally to Jerusalem. Then I understood that he was the father of all faiths, that he was the pilgrim, the guêr, the one who left his people, who made a pact of friendship with the foreign countries to which he came as a pilgrim, that the Holy Land was not the monopoly of one race, but the Land promised to all pilgrims like him” (L. Massignon , 1949).

Understanding what is happening today in the Holy Land must take into account the perspective of religious history since Abraham, who can be seen as the first “hero of hospitality”. Israel's right to the Holy Land derives from the promise of Abraham, but this privilege was from a “guêr”, that is, from a foreigner, from a guest. Abraham in Hebrew is called the “guer”. If Hebrew law derives from the patriarch Abraham, this right necessarily derives from a “guêr”, from a foreigner. The consideration of Abraham as a foreigner in his own land is the basis on which Hebrew law is built.

When analyzing international law, it is necessary to consider the concept of nomos. Carl Schmitt,[2] at work The Nomos of the Earth in the International Law of the Jus Publicum Europaeum, see the expression nomos in the sense of land appropriation, innovating by not using it in the sense of “law”, which would allow such an expression to be understood as an “original act that founds the law”.[3] However, the Greek expression nomos (νόμος) originally comes from “nomad”: nomas (νομᾰ́ς), which means “to wander in search of pasture”, from which arose nomós (νομός), meaning pasture.[4]

It is interesting to note the relationship between the founding concepts of international law and the situation of foreigners, those who “wander in search of pasture”. If in the past the “nomads” sought pasture to feed their flock and provide for themselves and their family, today’s “nomads” move in search of better living conditions, security and, often, faith.

Returning to the definition of Abraham as the “guêr”, the first act of Hebrew law can be seen as an act of international law, which today we could call international hospitality law, relating mainly to the issue of refugees.

As recognized by Louis Massignon when dealing with the issue of Israel, it is not possible to take Jerusalem away from the Muslims because they deeply believe that the prophet was transported there in ecstasy and that they will be judged there. Therefore, when colliding with this fundamental feeling, any possibility of a pact is excluded, because, in Islam, the faith that counts is that which is based on the oath of Abraham. In the same way, one cannot tear away from the Jews the memory of Jerusalem and their hope of being there as the central objective of their own faith.

For Muslims, Muhammad, a year before the Hijrah, was transported overnight to Jerusalem.[5] This fact meant that the direction of prayers was maintained for sixteen months (“Qiblah” – القبلة( facing Jerusalem (“Al-Quds” – القُدس(. Therefore, in origin, Muslims prayed towards the place where the Al-Aqsa Mosque is located, located in Jerusalem in the place designated by the Jews as the Temple Mount. Umar ibn Al-Qatab, the second of the Muslim caliphs, When he conquered the Holy Land in 638 AD, he purified the remains of Solomon's Temple so that the God of Abraham could be worshiped there.

For the Christian, one must appeal to the ideal of charity and the understanding of the hope that sustains Israel. Christian morality, as Louis Massignon recognizes, necessarily involves an understanding of Abrahamic hospitality, the sacred nature of the right of asylum and respect for foreigners. As advocated by Pope Francis, violence cannot lead to Peace.

For the Jew, it is necessary to keep in mind the roots of the pacifist philosophy that goes back to talmud of Jerusalem. In a complementary way, the firm desire to protect Jerusalem must always be put first: “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand lose its ability. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not prefer Jerusalem to my greatest joy.”[6]

For the Muslim, finally, respect for the human person and the right to asylum have priority over the duty of holy war. In this aspect, the example of the Suwarian tradition can be cited, which was responsible for part of the peaceful growth of Islam in Africa. Finally, it is worth highlighting that the word “Islam” has the same root as peace (“salaam” – سلام(.

The three great Abrahamic religions have the same concept of justice and peace: justice that does not only look at the nation itself, but looks at others, as Abraham, father of the Jews, Christians and Muslims was a “guêr”, a foreigner to whom God himself promised a land for him and his descendants.

* Ari Marcelo Solon He is a professor at the Faculty of Law at USP. Author of, among others, books, Paths of philosophy and science of law: German connection in the future of justice (Prisma). []

* Paulo Eduardo Frederico He is a lawyer and a doctoral candidate at the USP Law School.


(1) See: L. Massignon, Memorable writings, I-II, Paris, Robert Laffont, 2009.

(2) C. Schmitt, Der Nomos der Erde im Völkerrecht des Jus Publicum Europaeum, trans. ing. by GL Ulmen, The Nomos of the Earth in the International Law of the Jus Publicum Europaeum, New Tork, Telos, 2006, pp. 336-350.

(3) In this sense, see: B. Ferreira, The nomos and the law: considerations on political realism in Carl Schmittin Criterion 118 (2008), pp. 327-366.

(4) See about the nature of perception and common sense in Deleuze, Rancière and Kant, who share an interesting discussion about the nomos and the “nomads” in aesthetic-political reflections, the following chapter: D. Panagia, From Nomos to Nomad, in D. Panagia, The Political Life the Sensation, Durham, Duke University, 2009, pp. 21-44.

(5) Quran 17, 1.

(6) Psalms 137, 5-6.

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