Friday, October 13, 2023

What is to be done? Israel - Palestine in October 2023

There is any amount of comment in mainstream and social media about the Iranian-supported, Hamas-led terrorist murder, rape and desecration of Israel civilians a few days ago, including women and children.

I have been sick to the stomach reading about this evil.

Sometimes as a Christian I think there are too many words in the world, and in church, and more silence would be befitting. But this is not that occasion, Silence would mean consent for evil. We must speak out and up and say that evil has taken place, that is was not the result of pressure (no one is forced to behead a child or to brutalise a woman - such things are a choice to exercise power in the worst possible way), that justification for such evil acts (as, unfortunately, many people are attempting to provide) is itself an evil, and that the Israeli government is justified in seeking once and for all to remove Hamas as government in Gaza.

Whether the Israeli government should use means such as starvation of power and water against all citizens of Gaza is a matter of debate, but that debate should include debate about (1) the role the people of Gaza themselves have in removing Hamas - a role they are unlikely to be able to play because Hamas terrorises its own people - which makes its own point about the impossibility of Hamas ever being a partner to peace in the Middle East; and about (2) Egypt’s largely unnoticed role in also blockading Gaza - which I understand at least in part to be because Hamas has killed Egyptian citizens in recent years - which underlines the point about the impossibility of Hamas ever being a partner to peace in the Middle East.

What is to be done?

I have no specific contribution to offer but many good words are available on the internet. One example only, these words by Israeli philosopher Yoah Harari, here.

So, a different question: what might we read in Scripture when faced with the presence of such evil in our world?

When so many of our readings of the New Testament, for example, emphasise the love of God, the importance of our love for neighbour and for one another and the contribution examples of love make to the well-being of communities, where do we turn when face with horrific evil?

My own thought has been to turn to the Revelation of John.

Stop reading now if you hope I am about to link the visions of John the seer to current events as though a specific point in an assume timetable revealed in Revelation has been reached.

Rather, Revelation is Scripture confronting immense and widespread suffering, painful torture and horrific death, as forces seen (Rome?) and unseen (demonic activity of principalities and powers?), as a stark acknowledgement that God’s mission of love is not a seamless robe of progress among humans till the point of human perfection of wellbeing-in-society is reached.

Against that mission of divine love there are evil forces intent on destroying the mission and forcing the world into allegiance with the powers of hatred and oppression. Whether Revelation discloses a periodic unleashing of such evil forces, or a status quo of God’s love-filled mission always being attacked, or a future but always imminent threat of one Herculean, final war against God is a matter for discussion and debate. But what is not debateable is that Revelation presses the case for Christians to face, courageously and honestly, even when painful to do so, as per the past few days, the raw reality of life: that evil exists and is not yet eradicated, and all calculations about progress and improvement in human society should take this into account.

I am back from Africa. In due course I will post some thoughts about my amazing visit there.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Eyeless in Gaza? It simply makes no sense to have 2.4 million people crammed into a strip of desert without water, resources or employment, nearly everyone living in poverty and one of the highest birth rates in the world, and controlled by savage Islamic fundamentalists who propagate their message by terror. It is no wonder that Egypt (burned by the chaos of the Muslim Brotherhood) doesn't want them, nor does any other Arab state. It is clear that Hamas is Iran's proxy and they orchestrated this war to scupper an Israeli-Saudi peace deal.
Yet prior to Hamas coming to power and wiping out the local Fatah in 2007, up to 40% of Gazans were working in Israel. So there once was a more reasonable time there - before Islamism prevailed. Now even the very tiny Christian community has now been destroyed.
Personally I can't see any way around other than these two drastic measures:
1. the literal destruction of Hamas, which the IDF is clearly gearing up to do.
2. the relocation of most of the unemployed, poverty-stricken population to different parts of the Arab world.
The alternative - or maybe corollory - is all-out war with Iran.

Pax et bonum (bellum?)
William Greenhalgh