Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Posted by Jacob S.
The latest escalation of the problem occurred over the weekend when Israeli commandos stormed a humanitarian aid ship headed for Palestine and killed at least ten civilians. The ship was attempting to violate an Israeli embargo of Gaza. This horrendous act is just Israel following the script, though. The next few scenes will inevitably go something like this: Palestinians will react to the killings at sea with protests and violence; Israel will react to Palestinian protests and violence by entrenching further, demolishing a few buildings, tightening their grip on Palestine and the decades-long embargo leading to even more soul-crushing poverty and desperation; Palestinians will resort to suicide bombings and terror; Israel will crush a Palestinian uprising. The rest of the world will have some harsh critiques for the script but allow the play to go on.
* For some reason I'm having difficulties embedding the video, so go watch it on Youtube here.
Glenn Greenwald, of course, does a masterful job outlined just why this latest attack is so repulsive, and the inept handling of the situation by the Obama administration, which refuses to join countries like Russia, Turkey, Brazil, France, Spain, and China in condemning the attack. This was a boat in international waters delivering badly needed food, medicine, and building materials to Palestinian civilians who live in abject poverty and under dictatorial oppression. The United States must send a strong message that human rights and basic human decency are of paramount importance, more important than Israel's right to oppress the Palestinians, and condemn this act.
I don't pretend to understand all the complexities of the Middle East conflict. I don't think any American can fully grasp the centuries old dynamics that drive this mess. I understand that Israel is a sovereign nation that has the right to defend itself and maintain its security. I understand that Israel is our most important ally in that chaotic region, and that a strong Israel is a buffer for our own safety. I also understand that Palestinians have just as much of a claim on the territory as the Israelis. I understand that Palestinians are human, too, and the horrible weight of Israeli occupation under which they live is inimical to their basic human dignity and at the very least a major factor driving Palestinians to violence against Israel.
This attack by Israel, though, is the perfect time to take a harder stance and demand more action from Israel to resolve this conflict. With so much international outcry, now is the time to press for lifting the blockade on Gaza, ending illegal Israel settlements in the West Bank, and the creation of a two-state system. Only by giving Palestinians hope for a better future can peace be achieved.
And I've said it before and I will reiterate it now: As members of the church, living the Gospel of Peace, we should be among the strongest voices for peace in this conflict and worldwide. We should stand up and say that the atrocities committed by both sides must end and not fall into the trap of turning a blind eye to Israeli aggressions. I would love for the church to call for a concerted effort among the members to gather and ship humanitarian aid to the Palestinians to relieve their suffering and demonstrate that Christlike love for neighbors and enemies alike.