January 25, 2008
The importance of Jerusalem is known to nearly all Christian believers. According to “eschatology,” doctrine concerning the last days, the Second
Advent of Jesus Christ will be culminated with His rule in that holiest of ancient cities.
Unfortunately, this leads many believers to a stance of supporting the state
of Israel at all costs. However, the state of Israel is different than the
New Testament references to “Israel,” which at the very least encompasses the body of Christ. It may include all believers in God.
Regardless, supporting the oppressive occupation of the West Bank and Gaza
by Israel appears to be against the teachings of Jesus. This week’s demolition
of the wall between Gaza and Egypt has brought these issues to the forefront.
To be sure, the suicide bombings against Israeli citizens are a reprehensible
evil. Yet, there have been only a few small such attacks in the last several
years. On the other hand, Israel has killed over 1,000 innocent civilian bystanders
in the last seven years in attempts to quell the unrest. In that time, it is
true that twelve Israelis have been killed by unrelenting, inaccurate rocket fire from Gaza.
Which side has suffered more? Both have.
What would Americans do if they suffered under a brutal occupation? They would fight if political avenues had failed. And if they
were massively outgunned in terms of manpower and military technology they would not fight “fair.”
It is a positive development that American Christians have such warmth and
close association with Jews. This is in stark contrast to the anti-Semitism so
prevalent during much of the history of the Catholic church and protestant-majority America.
Still, man cannot hasten the Lord’s coming by supporting sin, only by spreading righteousness and holiness.
Why is Israeli policy sin?
Israel and the United States have characterized militant Palestinians as “terrorists,”
and demonized them. This has been used as an excuse to isolate Gaza. Yet, terrorism is the intentional random violence and/or killing of civilians as collective punishment
for political or military purposes. Israel and America have also been guilty
of this. The religious and political leadership, and the media in America, have
dishonestly failed to admit this. The reasons why are beyond the scope of this
This week I have seen much reporting about how Israel has stiffened its embargo
on Gaza in response to increased rocket fire on Israel by Palestinian militants. This
characterization is so inaccurate that it approaches being completely false. This
simple construct leaves out so much of the story. First of all, the rockets increased
when the killing by the Israeli army increased.
Please indulge me while I digress. Shortly
after the Oslo Accords were reached in 1993, affirming the “land for peace” rubric of Camp David in 1978, a Jewish
friend of mine who has travelled extensively in the region told me that Gaza was the world’s biggest jail.” Thus, the situation prevailing inside of Gaza is not new, but longstanding. This you rarely hear about in the press.
It’s incontrovertible that Gaza is tantamount to a prison and America
pays Egypt to assist Israel as jail keeper. Egypt’s Mubarak fears the loss
of the billions of dollars he receives in aid, and power, if he crosses the US. The
reporting that Egypt fears Islamic militants is exaggerated.
In the occupied territories, families are separated for years because the
borders are closed. Economic growth is impossible. Whenever some infrastructure of value is built Israel destroys it. Simple
items such as concrete that could be used to build modest homes in Palestinian communities are unreasonably kept out because
Israel says that they could be used to attack them.
Don’t let media reports fool you.
When Israel occupied the Gaza strip, they couldn’t stop rocket attacks.
Why do they expect a weakened Palestinian Authority to do so? America
can’t even control its borders as the world’s sole superpower.
The criticisms of Egypt’s efforts at policing the border are equally
weak. The number of Egyptian troops allowed on the border is limited by the Camp
David accords and Israel refuses to negotiate a new number. In addition, there
have been reports that many of the arms in the occupied territories are supplied through the Israeli black market. Far from being solely the Palestinians fault, the origin of much of the conflict lies in failed Israeli
policies and practices.
Gigantic lakes of sewage loom over many settlements, not only causing a stench
but standing ready to unleash a deadly torrent. People have drowned in the past
when the dams have failed. Nearby, the Palestinians can see the beautiful Israeli
homes that the government helps build, but only for Jews. Of course, most people
would lose all hope in this type of situation and resort to desperate measures.
There’s more. Without going
into the origins of the centuries old Arab-Israeli conflict consider the following.
Since taking over the occupied territories approximately forty years ago Israel has a religious, moral and legal responsibility
for the stewardship of the areas. They have failed to treat these areas fairly
or attempt to develop them. Instead they have taken the best land for themselves,
often without compensation.
Two years ago Hamas won democratic elections and the US went back on promises
that democracy was their paramount concern. The policy of starving out Gaza and
Hamas started two years ago when international aid was cut off, not last summer. The
cutting off of electricity and the recent border closure was just tightening the grip on the vice. Hamas was required to renounce violence by the international community as one of the conditions for restoring
aid, a requirement that was not imposed on Israel.
Almost immediately after the fair and democratic elections Israel began arresting
Hamas lawmakers and cabinet members making it impossible for the government to function. Thus,
the current situation in Gaza is not Hamas’ fault alone as the US government has asserted this past week.
With reference to the Fatah-Hamas infighting in Gaza last year; yes Hamas
prevailed but the fighting erupted after longstanding political and human rights abuses by Fatah that had contributed to the
election results. The previous Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority government
had been corrupt and had failed to fully hold up their end of the agreements that they had signed with Israel. They didn’t just lay down their arms; but they fought and gave as good as they got until they lost. Who started the fight no one knows.
The same complaints about Fatah being corrupt and inefficient administrators
came from the US and Israel for years. Fatah has their own militant extremist
factions making it laughable that the media and the international community now call them “moderate.” In addition, Hamas has long stated a willingness to negotiate short-term cease fires with Israel even though
they refuse to recognize them as a state.
Furthermore, their position of wanting to see the state of Israel “destroyed”
has been seriously distorted by the media and our political leaders. They are
referring to the legal justification for the creation of the state of Israel.
Their position is that the legal circumstances underpinning the creation of the state are invalid. Very few envision a Nazi-like holocaust. Furthermore, it is
theologically debatable whether a “state” or kingdom of Israel the exact size described in scripture is required.
There is the possibility that dealing with Hamas in an open, realistic hard
negotiation would be better than having them attacking Israel in the shadows, all the while becoming more extremist in their
views. If we can deal with the IRA in N. Ireland and make peace with China and
Vietnam, why is dealing with Hamas beyond the pale?
Most importantly, American and Israeli policy is in direct contravention of
clear scripture which is on point. I refer readers to Leviticus 19:33-34 (NKJV), Psalms 146:9 (NKJV) and Hebrews 13:2 (NKJV); and God’s preordained peace plan, Ezekiel 47:22.
I have presented facts. Even
if one disagrees with what these facts mean or with my interpretation of Holy Scripture, the question begs to be asked. Why aren’t these points given a fair hearing in the media and in the pulpits
of our churches?
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