I feel so inept…as war rages across the world and especially right now in Gaza, I watch as Israel attempts to annihilate all those they suspect of being “terrorists” within the confines of Gaza. Of course, along with the “terrorists” many civilians have also been killed. Leaders throughout history call this “collateral damage”.
If one expresses concern about Palestinians in general or the ongoing battle in Gaza, it is automatically assumed that one is anti-Israel. Being pro-Palestinian does not make me anti-Israeli; in fact, I remember the stories of David Ben-Gurion well. I loved Leon Uris and his tales of the struggle for a homeland for a people that no one wanted. This people may have been chosen by God but the rest of the world did not want them within their own land. While I am definitely not for the tactics used by the Israeli government to control the land of Palestine and its people, I am just as definitely not pro-Hamas. But no one ever asks me that and they actually assume that if I am one, then I am the other.
However, I also know that it is fairly impossible to try to understand the anger within the prison known as the Gaza Strip. How many generations of children have now been born under the domination of the Israeli war machine? Israel guards on one side enforcing a never ending blockade while Egypt sits quietly but just as forcefully on the other side with all their empty talk. What frustration must build each day as one attempts to live within the oppression of checkpoints and concrete walls laced with barbwire, too little employment and too much poverty. I doubt that many white U.S. born citizens could even come close to understanding the idea that these Palestinians, Muslim and Christian alike, are an oppressed group of people simply because they are Palestinians in a land now occupied and controlled by Israel.
What lesson is taught when a child throws a rock and an adult retaliates with gun fire? Even if we revert to the idea of “an eye for an eye”, the thought that retaliation or “preemptive” behavior might cure the problem is very frightening. Of course, this type of thinking is a product of our “right to bear arms” so that we can protect our own limited mentality. I have read the bumper stickers that proclaim that “guns don’t kill, people do.” My own creativity leads me to this – “Guns don’t kill people, idiots do but take the guns away from the idiots and maybe people won’t die from being shot.”
When our oldest son was first driving, I chastised him for driving too closely to a person on a bicycle. He exclaimed that he wasn’t doing anything wrong, that the guy on the bike was on the wrong side. I reminded him that it wouldn’t matter too much who was wrong if he, as a 16 year old killed a person on a bike. Does it matter who is right and who is wrong when people are dying? Will retaliation ever “fix” the problem of disagreement?
Who cares who threw the first bomb? Does it matter, especially if we look at it from a public health issue? Do we worry about punishing the offenders or fixing the problem that causes the concern? Which is easier – send in the F-16s, the tanks, the bulldozers or find a way to work hand in hand, side by side so that both Palestinians and Israelis (Muslims, Christians and Jews) can share the common heritage of their father Abraham? Who are the victims here?
Others can live in a world controlled by the fears brought on by reading Revelation to John. As for me, I will live in the idea that Jesus told us not to be afraid and to love one another. That is a far bigger concern to me today. And with that concern, I say unapologetically that I believe that Israel has many sins for which they will one day answer. There is the Augustinian idea of Just War. One could easily state that is why the Palestinians are fighting. Some may say that Israel has the right to defend its borders but my question is this…Which border?