DAILY CATHOLIC   TUESDAY   February 9, 1999   vol. 10, no. 27


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History has a way of repeating itself!

          While one leader struts like a peacock in the oval office as he is confidently assured he won't be impeached and will once again "get away with it scot free," another is laid to rest. While one leader taunts and teases western powers with a "cat and mouse" game of the "pea under the pod," another is eulogized as one who never wavered. As we all know, the wrong Hussein passed away Sunday. One - Jordan's King Hussein was loved by his people and enjoyed a trust with other nations that few leaders can claim; the other Saddam Hussein is feared and loathed by his people and trust is an anomaly in Iraq. Yet, when we study history and the proud heritage of these biblical lands of Jordan and Iraq, there has to be sadness at the depths these countries have fallen to today. The Arab infusion in both countries has overshadowed their rich roots for it was at Ur near what is today Nasiriyah, Iraq where the "Father of Faith" was born. We are speaking, of course, of Abraham who migrated south from Babylonia and, as they say, the rest is history.

          It was the region of Moab, now southern Jordan, where the Israelites, after wandering so long in the desert, first got an inkling of the "Promised Land." During the time of Christ Jordan was part of Judea on both sides of the Dead Sea, the River Jordan and the Sea of Galilee, though the Romans segmented the area as Decapolis and the Tetrarchy of Philip. Yet it was largely known as Judea with the southern portion comprising Arabia. Iraq was part of Mesopotamia and later the great Persian empire before being incorporated as part of the Ottoman Turkish empire and then British occupation until the Kurdish revolts against Assyrian Christians. This was followed by a major tribal uprising in the Euphrates basin which allowed the Arab regime to take over and the eventual rise of Saddam with his masterminding the attempted assassination of General Kassem in 1959 and his thorough involvement in the Revolutionary Command Council in 1969 and ten years later his take over of the country in 1979. It was unfortunate that he was so coddled by the United States. Yet, in retrospect, we can see the reasoning for America had just lost their great ally the Shah of Iran via the overthrow of his regime by the nasty Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini at the same time Saddam came to power.

          Meanwhile, further south in what had been called Trans Jordan, another Hussein , the Hashemite sherif of the Hejaz in eastern Arabia, proclaimed himself king of the Arabs in 1916 and began the great war made famous in the film "Lawrence of Arabia". Though this Hussein was forced to abdicate his throne in 1924, two of his sons ruled in Iraq and Trans Jordan at that time. The late King Hussein, whose lineage could be traced to Hashem, the great-grandfather of the seventh century prophet Mohammed, came into power in 1952. His forty-seven year reign was a fitting reparation of the damage done by his ancestors in which millions upon millions have been killed over the centuries in the name of religion. He was more like the "Good Samaritan" of the Scriptures who would distribute kindness and care while the other nine nations refused. Samaria, by the way, borders both Israel and Jordan with its capitol remaining Jericho. We all know what happened to the walls of Jericho. Hussein was well aware of these religious roots. He took over Trans Jordan three years after Israel became a state in 1949 when she returned to this sacred soil after nearly two millenniums of wandering in the desert of anonymity. To this day Israel still laments the fall of Jerusalem towards the end of the first century as her clerics pound their heads at the wailing wall.

          During King Hussein's regime mideast nations fell and were founded, great men came and went; men like David Ben Gurion, Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin. Like Switzerland, Hussein remained neutral through it all, buoyed by the oil rush of the mideast region that enriched the coffers of these Arab nations. But the riches have not been evenly distributed and therein lies the problems of the mideast where history and resentments stem from ancient times. As much as many of these nations resent the "great satan of the west" - the United States - they have become carbon copies of America in that the rich get richer and the poor poorer. We only hope the transition of the throne to his little-known son Abdullah Hussein will be as smooth as his regime was. If not, look for bigger problems in these areas where Abraham and Christ once walked the earth.

          It is no coincidence that these nations have become so prominent in these end times of the second millennium for this, indeed, is the stage on which Sacred Scripture says the great final act will be played out and where the purification of the earth as God has promised will begin and end. The political climate in this mideast region has been sensitive to say the least over the past twenty years and grows more unsteady with each passing day. Though Jordan had not been an announced ally of Israel, Hussein was not her enemy. Now, with the changing of the guard, we cannot be so sure. There will be undue pressure placed on him by other Arab allies who will threaten, cajole and persuade Abdullah to embrace the Arab anthem of oneness against the Jews. If Abdullah would take a harder stance toward the state of Israel, then Israel will indeed become an isolated island in a sea of Arab foes gnawing at the bit to devour the Jewish people, much the same as in biblical times.

          As in those times, the Jews would be wise to heed God's warnings and treat others in the manner of the "Golden Rule." First of all, don't rock the boat and don't upset the rest of the world with demands and conditions that are not feasible if they are not willing to give in return. In the spirit of Christ's words in Luke 6: 28, "Forgive, and you shall be forgiven; give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall they pour into your lap. For with what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you." This includes affording the Palestinian Christians the freedom to worship and live in peace along the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. It would also help better pave the way for the Holy Father to make his much-anticipated pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 2000. But the climate remains very volatile and only sane, wise leaders can keep things steady. Sadly, with the passing of King Hussein, there are few sane, wise leaders left in this region of the world; ironic in a land that gave us the great King Solomon. One way for both Jew and Arab to increase in wisdom is to learn from the Word of God and history, for, as we all know because God allows it, history has a way of repeating itself!

Michael Cain, editor

February 9, 1999      volume 10, no. 27
Today's Catholic PewPoint Editorial


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