>Conservative Christians have admittedly had an imbalanced perspective regarding Israel and her enemies (particularly the Palestinians) in recent years. The plight of Palestinian Christians, for instance, has largely been overlooked amid what is oftentimes uncritical support for the Israeli government. Carl Moeller, President/CEO of Open Doors USA recently commented on the difficult situation faced by Palestinian Christians: “They’re not part of Hamas. They’re not radical Islamic terrorists. And, they’re not Israelis. So the Israelis see them as Palestinians, and the Palestinian terrorists see them as Christians who are not part of their Islamic movement. It’s a tough place to be.” It certainly is. Unfortunately conservatives come across as if we are more concerned with how the current situation in Gaza might fit into a prophetic timetable than we are with the welfare of the estimated 2,500 Christians in Gaza, not to the mention scores of other innocent civilians. We conservative Christians have some work to do in order to deal with the shortcomings in our approaches to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so that we might be more balanced.
That being said, it troubles me when I see my Facebook friends joining groups and applications such as “Israel is a Terrorist” (27,000+ members), “STOP Israel’s War Crimes in Gaza” (74K fans) and “i bet i can find 1,000,000 people who hates [sic] israel” (23K+ members). I will not waste my time repeating some of the less-than-lovely comments you can find on these pages. These folks condemn Israel for killing civilians in Gaza (often using such irresponsibly hyperbolic statements such as “the Israeli ruthless genocide in Gaza”). One application offers to update your Facebook status with the number of Palestinians killed or wounded as a “counter media campaign” in response to a competing application (run by the “Zionists”) which will update your status with the number of rockets fired into Israel by Hamas.
I have no problem with those who are passionate about speaking out on behalf of those who have been killed in the battles between Israel and Hamas. What I have a problem with is the fact that the same people who claim “genocide” in Gaza remain absolutely silent over the cowardly crimes of Hamas. Hamas, one of the many terrorist organizations committed to the destruction of Israel, is responsible for 7,000 rocket attacks against the people of Sderot, Israel since 2001. They have no regard for their fellow Palestinians as they hide themselves among civilians in hospitals and foreign diplomatic mission centers. Israel has a well-established policy of specifically targeting terrorist leaders while Hamas aims to maximize civilian casualties with their attacks. Israel’s detractors accuse the government of war crimes while Hamas actually commits war crimes.
To those, specifically fellow Christians, who support Facebook groups such as “Israel is a Terrorist” and download applications such as “STOP Israel’s War Crimes in Gaza,” why do you ignore the war crimes of Hamas? Why have you said nothing as Hamas and other Palestinians have targeted civilian areas in Israel with rocket attacks? Why have you remained silent as Hamas has placed their security facilities in the middle of densely-populated areas and operate out of hospitals? If you are strongly opposed to the so-called cycle of violence, why have you just now begun to speak out now that Israel has chosen to take action in Gaza? Where was your voice as the rockets landed in Sderot? Hamas has no regard for Israeli or Palestinian civilians. Do you have anything to say about this? Or will you continue to hide behind oft-repeated excuses about disproportionate numbers of deaths as if statistics were the sole arbiter of morality? STOP Israel’s War Crimes in Gaza states, “These numbers [of Palestinian casualties] have already exceeded hundreds and thousands versus only few tens of Israelis.” Would it have been better if Hamas’ rocket attacks near school buses, hospitals, and elementary schools actually killed Israeli children rather than being terrifying near-misses so that the casualty numbers would be more evenly distributed?
Alan Dershowitz was right to speak of “moral idiocy” in his recent column on Israel and Gaza. Dershowitz writes,
“There have been three types of international response to the Israeli military actions against the Hamas rockets. Not surprisingly, Iran, Hamas and other knee-jerk Israeli-bashers have argued that the Hamas rocket attacks against Israeli civilians are entirely legitimate and that the Israeli counterattacks are war crimes. Equally unsurprising is the response of the United Nations, the European Union, Russia, and others who, at least when it comes to Israel, see a moral and legal equivalence between terrorists who target civilians and a democracy that responds by targeting the terrorists. And finally, there is the United States and a few other nations that place the blame squarely on Hamas for its unlawful and immoral policy of using its own civilians as human shields. The most dangerous of the three responses is the United Nations and European Union response, which equates the willful murder of civilians with legitimate self-defense pursuant to Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. This false moral equivalence only encourages terrorists to persist in their unlawful actions against civilians. The U.S. has it exactly right by placing the blame on Hamas while urging Israel to do everything possible to minimize civilian casualties.” [emphasis mine]
Do the Christians who are condemning Israel fall into the camp of “knee-jerk Israeli-bashers” who, as Dershowitz states, believe “that the Hamas rocket attacks against Israeli civilians are entirely legitimate and that the Israeli counterattacks are war crimes”? I do not know. Their silence regarding the crimes of Hamas leads me to believe that this is a possibility.
Here is a simple fact I would like to share with my fellow Christians who are condemning Israel on Facebook and elsewhere: The enemies of Israel want Israel to die while Israel wants to live. Israel’s enemies are committed to the destruction of Israel but Israel does not want to be destroyed. That is the problem. How you solve this problem is incredibly complex but the problem itself is quite simple. The problem with Israel and Gaza is not a genocidal Israeli government whose aim is to kill Palestinian civilians. Gaining clarity regarding the root problem with Israel and her enemies while abandoning morally idiotic claims of equivalency and cycles of violence could bring some much-needed balance to the discussion. So would a healthy dose of discernment and independent thinking when it comes to the grossly unfair and imbalanced media coverage in favor of the Palestinians and against Israel. When Jews from the extreme left to the extreme right of the political spectrum are universally united in their support of Israel’s present course of action, perhaps its time to take a second look at the situation.
Can left-leaning Christians be pro-Palestinian without being anti-Israel? Can conservative Christians support Israel while demonstrating concern for Palestinians? Of course. We are not limited to either/or fallacies. Christians of both the left and the right could all stand to become more balanced in their approaches to and slogans about the problem with Israel and Gaza.