Good piece in the Times today from Hugo Rifkind.
I find myself in a not dissimilar dilemma; I want to be balanced in what I write but it is difficult when the media doesn’t seem to do nuance. It seems we’re forced to choose between good (Israel) and evil (Hamas); or between evil (Israel) and good (Hamas). Well, collective punishment, (which btw, is what Israel has been meting out to Gazans for 7 years), is outlawed under interntional law, so collective judgement ought also to be outlawed. Not every Israeli agrees with what is done in their name: not every Gazan is a Hamas terrorist.
If we can’t see beyond that, there’s no point in discussion. It is the blank-faced, black & white of the racist, the fundamentalist, the hopeless and afraid. As an Evangelical Christian I refuse to do any of that; it contradicts what I believe. Jesus came to give hope to the hopeless, and the Palestinian Church in its ‘Kairos’ statement gives excellent witness to ‘hope where there is no hope’.
Christians are called to follow their leader by resisting violence non-violently. There is no other way; we’ve had 5000 years plus of evidence that violence doesn’t work. Within the last hundred years we’ve had a ‘war to end all wars’ which didn’t; another war which brought peace to Western Europe, but didn’t do much for anywhere else, and hundreds of little wars killing millions of little people to what benefit? As a means of population control it sucks! Condoms and pills are cheaper and better for the environment ( Genesis 1 & 2?)!
Trying to be balanced is difficult. Rifkind asks “why do these people care so much more passionately about Gazans that Kurds”. It’s a challenge I’ve been faced with and the answer is, ‘it’s the wrong question’. It’s a pointless question; it seeks to put the other person in the wrong rather than to learn what are the issues. many of us do indeed care about Kurds, and some of us also wonder why other people care more about say Taiwan than Palestine, or Kuwait than Gaza. To suggest either an equality or a dependence is simply stupid. No-one can get involved with more than a few issues. I’m also involved in southern Africa and local issues, I’ve had to choose, and my choices are often made for me!
So, what should the Christian balanced voice be saying? Stop the violence, and that means Israel too. Stop teaching violence and that means Israel too. Seek ways of living together: instead of learning from the example of the West why not try something different, after all it’s what I used to say to people in counselling who’d tried the same, unsuccessful, tactic for years: if it doesn’t work, stop doing it; try something new. What about listening to each other, then try listening again, then make sure you’ve really listened – and then accord the same respect to the other. I know, I’m being naive – Jesus got niled to a cross for believing He could change the world, and look what happened there….