I admit I was one of those angry young men way back in the 1960s protesting my country’s war against a peasant people halfway around the world. Men hunting other men and plotting to savagely kill them is the biggest obscenity I can imagine. Contrary to what some people might say, I did not hate my country, and my friends who served in that war were my friends before they went, and they were my friends when they returned. We never had a problem or issue between us of any kind. I never called them baby killers. Most of them came back with anti-war persuasions, too. And just for the record, I never perpetrated any acts of violence or destruction against anyone or anything in any way. Several times I stopped others from creating such chaos.
So, based on that personal experience nearly 50 years ago, I think I know and understand first-hand the nature of the rhetoric hurled around surrounding the current war in Israel. Unfortunately, now as then, despite the real, red meat beneath those arguments, they frequently arise with little more than bumper sticker intelligence. Oh, those dreadful occupiers and the prison-like imprisonment of the poor freedom-loving Palestinians. Give me a break. It’s far more complicated and deeper than that.
From what I’ve read, the hated of the Jews allegedly goes all the way back to the time of Queen Esther in ancient Persia. Then there’s the hatred of Jews perpetrated by both the church and the European states for centuries. The Inquisition. The Crusades. Those facts aside, the Vietnam War, like the current war in Israel, really has its roots in modern colonialism.
The British controlled the area that is now Israel at the end of World War I after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire — an empire that existed longer than any other in history. The British controlled much of the Middle East and many of the issues we face in that part of the world today are the direct result of the decisions they made a little more than a century ago. They did what colonial powers always do — they created the countries of Iran and Iraq, for example, despite their traditional religious distinctions, and then they exploited the oil riches of both countries. BP.
Now sure, some may argue Israel is the Promised Land given to the Hebrews in the Bible — and I would not disagree — but the historical fact is that the current nation of Israel came into being May 14, 1948. In 1947, the United Nations approved a resolution creating both Jewish and Palestinian states in the region. That never happened, and maybe we wouldn’t be here today if the powers that be would have settled this back then.
Ah, but here’s the obvious truth, and I have no idea how any of us can miss it. The Jews are human beings just like the rest of us. So are the Palestinians. And why, oh why, can’t we all realize once and for all that hatred only begets more hatred?
I neither understand nor support any form of hatred. Instead, I believe as Jesus taught us to pray that we will earn forgiveness from our Father in the exact measure we offer forgiveness to others. I know I have fallen far short of that standard in my life, but I’m trying hard to learn and practice that lesson.
I deeply mourn the events of the day and those even more horrifying to come, so this afternoon I simply pray for peace and an immediate end to the death, destruction, violence and suffering now afflicting both the Israelis and the Palestinians, even though I know I am but one small, frail light shining in this immense, foul darkness.
That’s the best I can do.