I received the following comment on my recent article Israel … What Does It Matter? As my reply was quite long for the comment body, I chose to reply to it publicly here.
I think your article is very well written and you make some good points, but there are two sides to this story. The land that makes up the country now known as Israel was taken from Palestine without the Palestinians consent. It would be the same as the UN taking part of the United States and creating a whole new country, without even consulting our government. I can definitely understand why the Palestinians want their land back. Also, the very things that the Palestinians are accused of doing (celebrating the deaths of the kidnapped boys, bombing and terrorizing people in Gaza etc) are being done by Israelites as well (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/18/world/middleeast/israel-gaza-strip.html?_r=0, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/17/world/middleeast/gaza-strip-beach-explosion-kills-children.html).
I have seen videos of Israeli police beating Palestinian women and children, just as I have seen videos of Hamas members beating Israeli women and children, both made me sick. I also think it is a mischaracterization to state that Muslims teach their children the only way to go to heaven is, “to die while killing others in the cause of their religion”. Yes, some people claiming to be Muslims believe this (ISIS is an excellent example), but many do not. Just like some so-called Christians believe that they should protest at veterans funerals (the Westboro Baptist Church), however I would not appreciate being lumped in to the same category as them just because we both profess to be of the same religion.
I really see no major difference between the attacks by either side. Both parties are in the wrong. Both parties are killing innocent people. Both parties are celebrating when others die and their family members are left to mourn. Both Hamas and the Israeli government need to stop attacking each other and earnestly seek peace. Abraham’s people were certainly chosen by God, but through Jesus Christ we are brothers and sisters with all people, Christians, Jews and Muslims and everyone else. We cannot pick and choose who to support when two groups are viciously killing each other and there is blame on both sides, we must love and pray for everyone. I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men -1 Timothy 2:1. Thanks for sharing your point of view, it is always good to learn from others who have different opinions. I am very glad you and your family have been blessed enough to travel to a land where you can witness and bring others to Christ!
I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts but also point out that you made some inaccurate statements.
To begin with, the land of Israel was not taken from the Palestinians. Books have been written about the history of it, but briefly …
This land was under Turkish control until World War 1, in which it became British territory. In 1947, with many Jewish people displaced after the holocaust and wanting to make their homes in Israel, the UN voted to create an Arab and a Jewish state. The Jews said yes, the Arabs said no and started rioting and killing Jews. When the British troops left the territory in May 1948, the Jews declared their independence as the state of Israel. Five of the surrounding Arab nations attacked them, boasting that, “It does not matter how many [Jews] there are. We will sweep them into the sea.” The Jews encouraged the Arabs living in the area to stay and live in peace, but the Arab armies told them to leave so that they would not be slaughtered with the Jews … and then they could return when all the Jews were gone. So many Arabs left their homes and property and fled to Jordan or surrounding Arab countries, expecting to come back shortly once the Jews were swept into the sea.
Of course, the Israelis were not as easily swept into the sea as the Arabs thought they would be and now the Arab countries had all these “refugees” on their hands … people whom they had told to leave their homes temporarily and now they had lost them completely. So it is not accurate to say, “The land that makes up the country now known as Israel was taken from Palestine without the Palestinians consent”. There never has been a country of Palestine and there still isn’t one. The Palestinians, as a people group, never had any land. The land of Israel has been called Palestine for centuries but it was never controlled by Palestinians and the Arabs living there were not even referred to as “Palestinians” until the 1960s. So this is not about poor, misplaced people who have been driven from their land. They fled their homes and now they and their descendants are paying the consequences. And why is Israel supposed to give up the land for which they fought, after being attacked, to these people? Since when is a country attacked, defends itself, expands its territory in the process, and then gives back that territory to the people who are trying to destroy them???
The links that you included … ay ay ay. First, may I point out that the NY Times is probably not the best news source from which to gather your impressions of the situation. Notice the title “Boys Drawn to Gaza Beach, and Into Center of Mideast Strife.”
Drawn to Gaza Beach??? What is the supposed to mean? A closer look at the article reveals that they had been ordered to stay indoors and had defied their parents.
And Israel is to blame.
The whole news story paints Israel as an aggressor who kills innocent children. Israel, who has issued countless warnings to Gaza residents, dropping over 100,000 leaflets and sending phone message to hundreds of thousands of citizens, warning them to evacuate their homes and make their way from less populated areas to the major cities. On this note, you may find this article of interest: http://www.jihadwatch.org/2014/07/hamas-to-social-media-activists-always-call-dead-innocent-civilians-dont-post-photos-of-rockets-being-fired-from-civilian-areas.
Do not hear me say that Israelis are perfect, or that their government/military policies are perfect, or that Israelis do not mistreat Palestinians at times. For that matter, Israelis mistreat their own people (remember Gush Katif?) However, it is worth noting again that Israel avoids civilians while Hamas targets them. Not only that, Hamas hides behind civilians and when accidents such as this take place, the world blames Israel without recognizing the enemy with which they have to fight. I am very sorry for those boys and for their families who are mourning them. But this is what happens when they do not bless the people about whom YHWH has declared “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.” When the Palestinians, or anyone else for that matter, choose to curse Israel, what can they expect?
Which brings me to your other statement: “I also think it is a mischaracterization to state that Muslims teach their children the only way to go to heaven is, ‘to die while killing others in the cause of their religion’. Yes, some people claiming to be Muslims believe this (ISIS is an excellent example), but many do not. Just like some so-called Christians believe that they should protest at veterans funerals (the Westboro Baptist Church), however I would not appreciate being lumped in to the same category as them just because we both profess to be of the same religion.”
I should have said “There are some hateful, aggressive Israelis but they don’t teach their children that the only way to be assured of going to heaven is to die while killing others in the cause of their religion, as Islam does.” This is a teaching of Islam and a Muslim who believes in his religion will believe this. To bring up so-called Christians protesting veteran’s funerals is really non-applicable because that is not a teaching of the Bible. I agree that there are plenty of Christians who do or believe things that other Christians disagree with, but this example has to do with personal ideology, not Scriptural teachings. So yes, there are obviously many Muslims who do not believe and practice this, but a good, observant Muslim should because it is a part of his religion. Perhaps this article and video would be of interest to you:
I am sorry that you feel there is no difference between the attacks on both sides and that both parties are in the wrong. This is, in my opinion, a very warped sense of justice. Hamas has fired thousands upon thousands of rockets into Israel during the past nine years since Israel handed control of the territory to the Palestinians and pulled its citizens out. Our friend who lives in Ashkelon, a city less than ten miles from the Gaza border, told us while we were visiting him last year that missiles regularly fell on their city and the surrounding areas, and the air raid sirens would often sound all day long. Most of this was not reported in the news though. For years, Israel’s citizens in the areas near Gaza have been under attack and now that Israel finally tries to put a stop to this terrorism … now they are wrong??? Maybe you have a better suggestion for how to stop the rockets from falling on Israel?
Your statement that “but through Jesus Christ we are brothers and sisters with all people, Christians, Jews and Muslims and everyone else” is not based in Scripture. As we look at the New Testament Scriptures, we find that the only people who were referred to as “brethren” were those who worshipped the one, true God … the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This included the believers in the Messiah, as well as Jews who were not believers. As believers, we cannot be brothers and sisters, in a spiritual sense, with those who do not believe in YHWH – the God of the Bible. And Muslims do not believe in this God.
And finally, in reply to your statement “We cannot pick and choose who to support when two groups are viciously killing each other and there is blame on both sides, we must love and pray for everyone” … I would answer that we most definitely can and should choose to support the people who have been chosen by the Creator, while keeping in mind that He did not choose them for their sakes or for any righteousness of their own, but for the sanctification of His name (Ezekiel 36:22,23). Thankfully, this decision is made easier by knowing that Israel is not viciously killing people and desires to live in peace.