How the [Middle] East Can Be Won

June 9, 2007

How the [Middle] East Can Be Won


Ted Burnett

For thousands of years, the Middle East has been home to plenty of chaos. Located along the arid and rocky coastline of the southeastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea, this historic region has been occupied by almost every empire, such as Persian, Greek, Roman and Ottoman, resulting in lots of warring, tons of bloodshed and virtually no peace.

Not much seems to have changed since the end of World War II and the forming of the country known today as Israel by the Jews. Israel is located on highly sensitive grounds called the “Holy Land” with its many religious and other significant sites. The area is considered sacred by three major religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, which all claim some ownership to the land.

Today, the Holy Land is predominately occupied by the Jews and the Palestinians, who are predominantly Muslim, but also include other Palestinians groups like Christians, Druze, Samaritans, and Jews. It is also home to a small group of Christians. Most of the modern and major conflicts have occurred primarily between these two majority ethnic groups, Jews and Palestinians, with their well-defined groups of people and culture.

While I don’t have a knowledge base of any great depth to consider myself an expert on the region, its history and its people, I believe I have found a long-term solution of peace for all of the area’s stakeholders. It is not a contentious “peace through arms” but instead seeing each other in a more basic and humane way.

The ongoing problem in the Holy Land is one of perception; it is a man-made and a Biblical one that’s thousands of years in the making. It is not unique to just this region of the world. It is truly an illusion that must be recognized and be mashed by at least one party if not all. This problem may have begun when a tribe or several tribes identified themselves as the Israelites, recorded their history and later saw or viewed themselves as “God’s chosen people.”

Along with the groups’ new labels of the Israelites and now the “God’s chosen people” this instantly separated these tribes from all other religious groups in the same region, all citizens of other nations and empires. In the eyes of the Israelites, they defined what it is to be an Israelite and they alone saw themselves in a covenant with God.

A man-made concept and not a God-inspired one is the process of placing and identifying with a series of labels on our fellow man and oneself. The end result seems to create much separation, to be divisive rather than inclusive. Instead of bringing individuals and different groups together, it seems to build fences, to build walls between each other. The more labels only narrow a group down thus creating exclusivity in membership or becoming an outcast. The labels cut off and separate man from one another, groups from one another, societies from one another and so on. The more labels an individual has only singles them out and defines or refines human beings and their culture.

An example of common labels used in society include: family name(s), race, sex, place of birth — city, state, region, country–nationality, religion, education, degrees, occupation, titles, wealth, class, memberships such as “the chosen people.” Labels tend to classify the socioeconomic level and place a value on an individual, a family and a community in relation to the overall society. To put it rather bluntly, labels view some lives as being worth more than others. Labels create all sorts of discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, etc. A region or nation with more than one monoculture of people is considered to be multicultural.

Under the theory of multiculturalism, only by understanding one another’s culture can we begin to understand and accept each other and thus have peace. The theory has the opposite effect of what it purports to do. The Middle East conflict confirms that this indeed is the case. Multiculturalism has failed miserably when applied to this conflict where both the Jews and Palestinians have known each other and their cultures and have lived amongst one another for decades, if not for centuries. None of this cultural understanding of one’s neighbor has helped either side to develop any more compassion, love, understanding and acceptance for the other. Rather, we have seen continued rounds of fighting for decades.

Over two years ago, the NBC Today Show aired a segment on National Geographic’s The Genographic Project, a deep ancestry study. Rather than backtrack a family’s history through Genealogy, National Geographic’s project involves collecting 100,000 DNA samples from the inside of volunteers’ cheeks from countries all around the world to track human migration patterns. All four members of the Today Show–co-anchors Katie Couric and Matt Lauer, weatherman Al Roker and newsreader Ann Curry–participated by each giving a DNA swab.

The samples were previously collected from the foursome and, using mapping software, each cast member was shown the path or route their ancient ancestors had taken from the same central Africa region in what is known today as Ethiopia. “Adam,” does not represent the Biblical man by the same name, and he was not the only man alive during his era; however “Adam,” who lived in Africa 60,000 years ago, is “unique because his descendants are the only ones to survive to the present day.” The inference is we all came from the same area in east Africa and, maybe, from the same father.

Matt Lauer’s ancestry route left Africa through the Middle East and curled around to Italy. Katie Couric’s ancestry also left Africa in a similar migration to the north and curled to the west towards Western Europe. Ann Curry, being of Asian descent, found out that her ancestors after leaving the African continent to the north turned in an eastward direction towards the Far East. And, finally, Al Roker, who is black, learned that his great ancestors walked to the north of Africa before curling back to the west and remaining on the continent.

Assuming the Bible’s story of Creation about Adam and Eve being God’s first humans on Earth has any credence as to how man and woman were formed and later reproduced to create their children, we are all related. From their children, the lifecycle has carried forward repeating millions of times more; each and every one of us are brothers and sisters in both a spiritual and a biological manner. According to scientists, we know that all humans share 99% of the same genes. The habitants of the Middle East region appear to all share the same Y-chromosome and, thus, a mixing of bloodlines.

I believe the East can be won without firing another shot. As individuals and societies, as a whole, both the Jews and Palestinians must strip themselves of most all of the labels, including “God’s chosen people,” and see each other simply as some of God’s other children and fellow human beings. These are the only two acceptable and necessary labels for peace within individuals and amongst various groups of people not only in this war torn region, but also around the world.

I ask, “Are we not all God’s chosen people?”

Copyright © 2007, 2010. All Rights Reserved. “How the [Middle] East Can Be Won” by Ted Burnett.

I am available for speaking, consulting and political advising. My other essays can be viewed at my blog – I can be contacted via email at – My biography can be viewed at


National Geographic’s The Genographic Project’s website:

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 Ted Burnett: I'm an American thought leader and pioneer on the subjects of human, organizational and societal development and health. I write about the role that integrity, dignity, sanity play, as well as, on the topics of spirituality, faith, freedom, happiness, problem solving and risk taking. I produce and deliver original, world-class commentaries on business, political, social and spiritual matters to a global audience of world leaders, chief executives and key decision makers, top faculty and notables in the fields of academia, banking, business, foundations, government (including heads of state, lawmakers and governors), healthcare, media, non-profits and policy institutes. Website: