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Team Israel

In a few days or weeks the state of Palestine will more than likely be a wasteland. It's hard to imagine an area suffering any more heartache. I know when I look at pictures, and read about the staggering number of children, some 80%, that live in extreme poverty my heart breaks. I cannot relate to such a life - a life in which two Palestinian children die every week as a result of being forced to live on the bare minimum, a pattern stretching back fourteen years.

Source: http://socialistworker.org/
As I read the social media musings on the situation, I can't help get the feeling that there are a lot of people on "Team Israel". They say things like, "Israel has a right to protect itself", and paint a portrait where Israel is an innocent victim. They divide people into "good" and "bad", a classic national strategy to shed any culpability of action. A nation or group can't be morally culpable when the people dying are bad guys, or at the very least, the people who happen to live on the same block as the bad people right? And so media outlets start up the machine, their soul, the reason for their existence, the propaganda which demonizes one group and praises the other. That's the nature of modern media - every problem and solution are told in narratives that are black and white. Nothing makes a viewer feel more angry or happy when a social issue is divided into two extremes. Just watch The Middle East Problem as a classic example of pure propaganda good/evil dichotomous language. "One side wants the other side dead"; and now all other information becomes relative to this overarching narrative. Forget the occupation. Forget the displacement of tens of thousands of indigenous people. Forget the poverty. Forget the blockade. Forget what is really happening in Gaza: Apartheid. Forget that war is altogether evil, desperate impoverished groups of people resort to desperate and yes violent acts of resistance, and forget that this offensive has now blackened the heart even more of a Palestinian state terrified of extinction.

Once one forgets the abuse, one can (silently) cheer on the war path of the heroic Israeli army who has now shelled down hundreds of civilians. It's the religious element which truly disturbs me. The Christian religious groups who place Israel at the center of history and not the cross, who value worthless land over the eternal human soul, and who invented a system of theology which essentially gives a pass for Israel, God's real chosen people. That is what breaks my heart. We now have a way of thinking about a particular group of people which ignores the very real truth, that if the roles were reversed, and if it were us living in densely populated urban shanties, we too might resort to an equal level of violence. That nature which retaliates when struck is ever lurking under our skin. The early Church knew this all to well when they committed themselves to martyrdom, when a powerful oppressive nation took their rights way, their land, property, dignity and freedom to determine their own identity. They understood that nonresistance conquers evil.

So why isn't ever single Christian damning this operation? I can only guess that it is because we have electricity 24 hours a day, unlike the Palestinians who get maybe 8. Maybe it is because we can go and get a clean cup of water whenever we like and sleep without the sound of shells blasting in the night. I have a sneaking suspicion that if any of us spent a single 24 hour day in the slums of Palestine, our perspective would change. People in the west actually believe that the Palestinians should be blaming Hamas for their situation. If you got robbed and beaten and someone in your family decided to roughen up the criminal, you might disapprove of his method, but you certainly aren't going to blame him for now being poor and wounded. It's a similar situation on a much grander scale: the robber just happens to be a world super power who has pulled the wool over many of our eyes - violence is always easily digested when it is perceived as being instigated in a vacuum; Ignore the cause and the good/evil dichotomy is preserved.

When we (rightly) condemn Hamas for their violence, an even higher moral condemnation must fall on that of Israel. Christians in Gaza understand this, they stand with their fellow Muslim brothers. They know who is oppressing who, they understand the root of their plight.

The story being told in the West is a lie. It's the lie that says power equals righteousness. It's a story all about maintaining the status quo. It's the same story that we tell ourselves in our own country when our own oppressed people groups speak of injustice.

It's time we all realized that Israel is dangerously coming close to committing genocide. It's time to be a voice of peace, the only team which ever wins.

Sources:

Gaza’s Torment, Israel’s Crimes, Our Responsibilities
Cursed Victory: A History of Israel and the Occupied Territories – review
Palestine suffers ‘worst poverty’ due to Israel
Palestinian Christian: Western Christians Don't Understand Gaza/Israeli Conflict
Turkish PM accuses Israel of terrorism, genocide; protesters pelt consulate with stones

Comments

Alex Bloomfield said…
Great post, Matt. I couldn't help thinking about this incredibly tough issue while Dave & Sue were speaking this morning, where I thought a few unfortunate "Christian" pro-Israeli opinions shed through a little during their presentation. Please don't get me wrong- they do fantastic missionary and have had a huge positive impact on the gospel in Israel- but they are part of a large group of Christians who can't bear to speak out against any Israeli action. A majority group that for some reason chooses to ignore the fact that the people of the current political nation of Israel are not in any way "God's people" like the Jews of the Old testament. The worldwide, gospel-believing church is. The Old Covenant was fulfilled in Jesus Christ's death and resurrection, opening salvation to ALL who believe, with no hierarchy of nationality. This current, complicated conflict needs to be judged equally from both sides, and definitely not viewed through a filter of badly taken-out-of-context texts from the Old Testament and Revelation.
Matthew said…
Thanks Alex. I know I might have come down hard on Israel in my article, but that perception that Israel is innocent and theologically a specific extension of God's plan is what is bothering me. Don't get me wrong, if I lived in Israel, and had to live with hundreds of rockets being fired at me, I would be angry and afraid too. However, I think that since Israel has essentially been in control of that region for decades, they have a higher responsibility to work for peace. I just hate the simple language which this situation brings out, as if it is simply a matter of the bad guys firing rockets at the good guys, which only intensifies when the western church starts talking about Israel as "God's people". Thanks again!

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