Then less than a year later came the Six Day War, an extraordinary military success for Israel against the combined forces of Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq, probably not best understood from Wikipedia, which resulted in a vast expansion of Israeli-held territory. I relate my '66 experiences not to qualify me as expert, but rather to explain my interest in that region and explain my lack of clarity about it. It seems to me that anyone who pretends fully to understand the rights and wrongs or to know the answer to the Israeli/Palestinian problem is deluded. Today the Archbishop Cranmer blog fired a broadside at the prevalent liberal orthodox view in Rich powerful Jews annihilate poor innocent Palestinians. And I have to agree that it apparently takes a well-directed Israeli drone attack on the top Hamas military commander, Ahmed al-Jamari (I can't remember whether we are supposed to regard Hamas as a terrorist organisation or not at present. It's certainly intent on destroying the nation state of Israel), to remind the BBC and other news organisations of the 800 missiles and mortars launched from Gaza this year into Israel. So I take Cranmer's point.
Clearly war will not prove to be the solution to the intractable problem. The Arab states' unwillingness to acknowledge Israel's right to exist and Israel's stubborn determination to exist seem to create a formula for perpetual conflict. It would take a massive amount of international repentance (including by the UK - for its [mis]handling of the 1922 Mandate for Palestine, for instance) to form any foundation for peace negotiations.
However I suspect the only hope for the parties apparently addicted to violence (including us) is the recognition of their need for a "greater Power" and something like Alcoholics Anonymous's Twelve Steps:
For "alcohol", read violence, and for "alcoholics" read warmongers. And the whole document makes great sense in this context. The Middle East is indeed "unmanageable" and does need a greater Power to restore "sanity".
The beauty of this part of the world is haunting - and so is its pain. Ironic, isn't it, that in five weeks' time millions worldwide will be singing about a future "when peace shall over all the world / its ancient splendours fling" remembering events in this region over two thousand years ago? We should pray that it might be so.