Saturday, 19 July 2014

Gaza - the silent voices and worse (update)

The Palestinian death toll in Gaza tops 300 as Israel’s relentless attacks continue unabated.

Over the last week we have seen the tragic deaths of four children as they played on a beach near Gaza City. Four children who were just doing what children do and have never fired a missile at anybody. An eyewitness account in the Guardian is particularly harrowing –

In the meantime the west continues its devoted support for Israel. Just this weekend David Cameron spoke out in support of Israel’s actions –

He was not speaking in my name. Nor was he speaking in the name of the thousands in London and across the world who have taken to the streets to protest against the continuing bombing.

Israel justifies its attacks by pointing to the missiles that come across the border from Gaza. Now let’s get one thing right, those attacks by militants cannot be supported. But the response is so disproportionate as to be oppressive. Even if an eye for an eye is good theology, which it isn’t, this is more like 200 eyes for an eye. It is simply an aggressive demonstration of power to show the Palestinians who is the more powerful. And we can easily forget that it is an illegal occupation.

What is particularly depressing is that Christians continue to give Israel blind support. It is as if they can do no wrong. Any criticism of Israel’s leadership is tantamount to blasphemy. I know people who have been accused of anti-Semitism and even of being holocaust deniers just for speaking out against Israel’s oppression. Have they never read the Hebrew prophets? Have they not read the prophet Amos who said that they had turned justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground (Amos 5)? Or how about Jeremiah who talked of the blood of innocents (Jeremiah 2). Isaiah spoke out against those who called evil good and good evil. Were the prophets anti-Semitic? No. They were speaking the words of God to those who oppressed the weak.

Some Christians look no further than the promises to Abraham and the geography of the ‘promised land’. This seems to subsume all other issues. It is as if they are more interested in the implications of those words and the status of the ‘chosen people’ than the injustice that is there for all to see. It is a devotion that even some Jews fail to understand –

Innocent children are being killed or injured and the death count is bound to rise.

If Israel could no longer rely on the blind support of the Christian west they would have to think twice. But as it is they can do what they like in the knowledge that conservative politicians and Christians will not only stay silent but actively cheer them on. Anyone who is serious about the bible and about the teachings of Jesus has no option but to say that this is unacceptable and that it has to stop.

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