One year ago, I was excitedly preparing to head to Israel and Palestine. It was a dream of mine to understand the ground from where all three of the Abrahamic religions have deep roots. I couldn’t imagine getting to understand the conflict in the region on a more personal level. I came back from that trip a changed person, understanding the situation so much better and also realizing just how much I don’t understand. I also realized–on a much deeper level–how tenuous and difficult peace in the middle east was.
These last two weeks have been absolutely heartbreaking for me to watch. The absolute horror of the Hamas attacks on innocent Israelis. The absolute horror of the retaliatory strikes on Gaza. The hostages and the families who are terrified waiting for news. The removal of electricity, water and fuel to the people in captivity in Gaza, and now the impending invasion of north Gaza and literally more than a million displaced people. The scope of the pain, grief, fear and hopelessness is truly unfathomable.
Some of us have followed what has been happening in the Middle East for years, others are realizing that it is time to educate ourselves more about it. Many are looking for answers–or at least looking to determine who is at “fault” here, and it is a metaphor for our world today, that there are no easy explanations or answers. This is truly one of the most complicated situations in world history.
And our hearts are hurting.
We have changed our worship schedule so that I can preach on this topic on November 5th. We have the Pride Parade and service this Sunday and next weekend we are honoring our ancestors so Nov 5th is the earliest we can do it. Sadly, I know that it will still be relevant.
Until then–and at the risk of getting some people really angry with me–here are some statements I can make:
- The strike by Hamas was a terrorist move that intentionally targeted civilians. Their goal is to kill as many Israelis and Jews as possible. This is terrorism in its very definition and should be denounced in the strongest way possible.
- Hamas does not speak for all Palestinians. Nor does the state of Israel speak for all Israelis or Jews.
- Gaza is an occupied territory. The people are trapped inside walled areas without freedom and open access to income, health care, education and other human rights–and now they are being deprived of any remaining resources and half of the people are needing to move before they get obliterated, yet there is nowhere for them to move to. Israel has one of the most powerful armies in the world. These are not two equal entities.
- Both the Palestinians and Jews have been oppressed and murdered for their existence in history. Both of them claim the land as their home. This very complicated conflict is over 70 years old and at steps along the history, the strategy was “we hope we’ll figure it out later.” It hasn’t been figured out and the world has collectively failed this area.
- The Palestinian people are oppressed and occupied people. They have been finding peaceful and unpeaceful ways to protest for years. Their continued oppression will result in continued violence.
There are tons of resources out there and I encourage you to educate yourself, but also note that many of them are biased. This is a resource I was directed to before my trip and it is short and I found it very helpful.
What is my response? Pray. Send love. I am praying and sending so much love until my insides hurt. I don’t know what else to do. I do know that in the face of war and death and hate, my response HAS to be love and peace. It has to. I wish I could do more, but at least I can do that.