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Who Owns The Holy Land? by Lloyd Geering (2001)
These lectures were planned long before it was realised how topical they would be in the light of September 11, 2001.
The bitter clash between Israelis and Palestinians for possession of the Holy Land is the chief factor which has been fomenting, in the Arab and Muslim world, distrust of the West in general and hatred of the USA in particular.
In this series, Lloyd Geering sketches the historical factors which lie behind this conflict and attempts to analyse the respective rights and responsibilities of all who are concerned with it.
When this series of lectures was planned we had no idea they would be delivered in the aftermath of the horrendous acts of terrorism which befell the United States on September 11. Yet I have not been wholly surprised by that shocking event.
My fear of what might happen as a consequence of the general unrest in the Middle East, and of the Palestinian intifada against Israel in particular, prompted me to write an article for the Otago Daily Times early this year. In it I wrote, ‘the escalating violence between Israel and the Palestinians has the potential to ignite a much larger conflict. The Holy Land is sacred to the three monotheistic faiths and is the meeting place between the Christian West and the Islamic Middle East. Conflict there can all too easily set the West on a collision course with the Islamic world, of which the Gulf War with Iraq was but a forerunner. One has only to spend a little time in some Islamic countries to find out how much the West in general, and the USA in particular, is distrusted and even hated by many in the Islamic world.’
Over the last thirty-five years I have visited all the Middle Eastern countries from Egypt to Iran, some of them many times. In my earlier academic career it was my responsibility, for 16 years, to study and teach the history of the ancient Middle East over the four thousand years which preceded the Christian era.
With this background I shall be trying in these lectures to look at the conflict in the Holy Land in the widest possible context, both historical and geographical. The Holy Land has probably witnessed more violent conflict in the last four thousand years than any other spot in the whole world.
– The introduction to Lloyd Geering’s 2001 series Who Owns The Holy Land?