Fences and Bandwaggons | Israel and Gaza

Even those who take a close interest in the Middle East will admit, I think, that nothing is ever quite as clear-cut as one would like. The present conflict between Hamas and Israel is a case in point. Here in the West every report of further shelling or rocket attack leaves many of us more and more confused. Why should people want to exterminate one another? How can sleeping children be a legitimate target? How can random missile attacks advance a cause? I know, from past experience, that my refusal to back either Gaza or Israel will lead to many angry attacks and furious ‘explanations’ of the reasons why I should think the same as the writer. I can only reply that sitting on a fence is sometimes more fitting than clambering on a bandwaggon. It gives one a vantage point, enabling one to see and hear something of what is going on; and it is so uncomfortable that one is constantly reminded that situations are very flexible and can change in an instant.

The failure of yesterday’s ceasefire agreement after merely an hour or so has dashed the hopes of millions. The measure of the failure can be seen in the number of people killed in the subsequent hostilities. Looking further afield, the war in Syria continues to destroy lives; the activities of Isis are tearing Iraq apart. Surely so much human blood wantonly spilled must cry to heaven for vengeance, but we are very much mistaken if we think we are meant to be the instruments of that vengeance. Instead, we might say from the ashes of dead hope, let the phoenix of prayer arise. Our duty now is to pray and work for peace — an unthankful task, perhaps, but ultimately the only one that can really change things for the better.

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7 thoughts on “Fences and Bandwaggons | Israel and Gaza”

  1. Thank you for speaking out in what is a horrific situation.

    We feel increasingly helpless in the face of such horror, cruelty and inhumanity, prayer for peace is the only thing within our power to do. Condemnation helps no one, but you can’t help feeling compassion for the innocents in the middle, who always seem to be the casualties of war.

    There is no such thing as a just war, just war in all of it’s ugliness, hatreds and the inevitable consequences for those caught up in the middle.

    I’m not sure about the politics behind this, but it seems obvious to me that people wanting to live in peace in the middle east are caught up in some great evil, today we hear about infighting in Libya between factions which has left over 200 dead in the last week. Yet another sign of some great evil overwhelmingly disrupting the lives of the peoples of these places. It seems hopeless, but prayer and peace works and support for the agencies seeking to build peace is the only option we have. Armed intervention will only make things worse.

    God help the peoples of the middle east. As we seem unable to do so.

  2. I am a Christian Zionist, but in the sense that I pray that the temple on mount Zion will become a house of prayer for all people. A place where Jew and Arab will embrace one another as brothers and where the oil of Gods anointing will flow down over each of their heads.
    I am praying that Israel and and Hamas will lay down the swords that kill and maim the innocents , but take up the sword of the spirit to slay the daemon of bitter hatred that is destroying their lives. >

  3. I would not describe your activity as fence sitting, but an intelligent appraisal of the situation and measure of sanity in an increasingly insane world.

  4. I totally agree that it is our duty to pray and work for peace. But I can’t help being reminded of Pope Paul VI’s words: “If you want peace, work for justice.” And also of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s words in the time of apartheid: “If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

  5. I agree with you Sister. Your words give me much more to think about when I look at the crucifix. I see Jesus hanging on a tall “fence poll” experiencing the fullness of what we are seeing. He does exactly what you said. He prayers to His Father for reconciled peace – for us!
    We know what happens 3 days later. Yes, there is hope! May I have the courage to be His instrument of peace.

  6. ‘The doctrine of Original Sin, at least in its mainstream versions, does not regard men and women as utterly corrupt. On the contrary, it holds that they have a capacity for redemption which can never be suppressed, but only if they repent — which is to say, only if they take soberly realistic account of the tenacity of human egoism, the persistence of violence and self-delusion, the arrogance of power, the compulsive recurrence of conflict, the fragility of virtue, and the eternal dissatisfaction of desire’ (Terry Eagleton, Culture and the Death of God, 2014). This leads us to pray ‘Lord have mercy’ — on all of us, and not just some.

  7. I quite agree, I also do not take a particular side, in fact I feel it is impossible to do so. However, comfortable Western society tries to ignore the fact that most nations where Jews have tried to settle, they have been pushed out, discriminated against and threatened with extinction in some cases. They do deserve at least one safe nation on earth where they can live their lives free from persecution and violence; Israel offers that and yet even that small nation is under continual threat of ‘Jihad’. May God open the eyes of our country’s people to some neutrality too.

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