Pray for the People of Gaza and Israel

There are no winners here, just sinners and victims on both sides.  Only God can heal this and it will not be done by firepower, but by the blood of Christ crucified.

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  • Mike Walsh

    Cheap moral equivalence has always been your approach to this conflict. But it saves you from the hard work. And the hard choices.


    • Bill

      Yes, because praying for people to end suffering is cheap moral equivalence.

      Your bias is showing.

      • How is his bias showing? He doesn’t even say which side he thinks worse.

        • Richard Johnson

          Which side is without sin? Which side is without victims? Which side is without pain, death, injury, and hurt? Which side deserves what they are getting?

          Mike Walsh’s statement implies that there are answers to these questions other than the word “neither”, and leads me to believe that he views one side or the other as beyond the pale of human caring because they are the ultimate in evil.

          • You’re reading a tremendous amount into his statements that are probably not there. Saying the conflict is not one between two equal sides is not the same as saying that one side is perfect and the other damned. One side is flawed with much power, and the other side is flawed with little power. And I think it is immoral to ever forget or ignore that. If you don’t really understand that reality yet, I suggest you do some research.

            • Richard Johnson

              “Cheap moral equivalence has always been your approach to this conflict.”

              I would suggest that Mike Walsh did not do due diligence in his research before responding to Mark’s post, otherwise he would have read the article linked to by Mark. Had he read that he would probably not have slammed Mark with the above phrase.

              And in acknowledging the differences you mention, how should that affect the prayers for the innocents on both sides? Or do you hold that there are no innocents on one side (or either)?

        • Mark Shea

          Read the link.

        • Ted Seeber

          Doesn’t matter- the real bias in the Israel-Palestine situation is that we can live in a world with SIDES.

          • I actually (mostly) agree with this. That’s a first between us, I think.

            • Ted Seeber

              It might help you to know that I identified as a liberal right up until the time I read a letter on George Tiller’s clinic website from a mother who wished she had been able to use the same “cure” on her autistic son that she had used on her Turner’s Syndrome Daughter.

              That letter suddenly proved to me that everything I had disagreed with on the Church about human sexuality, the Church was depressingly right on.

              It was much the same with my slow conversion from Marxism to Distributism; based on reading Church documents in the 1990s.

    • Mark Shea

      No cheap moral equivalance about it. Did you not read the link? Israel obviously holds all the cards here militarily and economically and deserves the lion’s share of the blame for the suffering in Gaza. They are also fools for trying to maintain military superiority while functioning as Manhattan on the Mediterranean in their abortive and contraceptive culture while their enemies keep multiplying. This is, once again, the choice to live in unreality and will guarantee that Israel goes the way of Outremer if nothing changes. It can remain Jewish or a democracy, but not both. However, Palestinians remain moral agents (particularly Hamas) and their choices to sacrifice their own innocents in vengeance remains theirs to make. I have no idea how to resolve this, so think prayer is best. Why that is cheap moral equivalence I don’t know.

      • Ted Seeber

        I’ve recently been looking into this- and I think certain groups of Zionists have learned the wrong lesson from the holocaust.

        Instead of rejecting eugenics and valuing diversity, they have embraced eugenics and are trying to rebuild their tribalism in a world that is busy fighting to reject tribalism.

        It’s not just contraception and abortion, though that is a part of it. It’s also actively embracing IVF (Israel leads the world for in-vitro fertilized children). It’s the advent of modern genetic testing technology leading to big databases of Ashkenzi Jews so that couples who are dating can enter two pins into a 1-800 number to find out if they should get engaged (and don’t if there is any chance of Tay Sachs disease in the children). It’s also the war in Gaza- as they attempt to wipe out the Palestinians by attrition while expanding Zionist “Settlements”.

        Entirely the wrong lesson.

        • The Deuce

          …in a world that is busy fighting to reject tribalism.

          I wish that were true, but it’s not. With very few exceptions, the only people who claim to be trying to reject tribalism are the ones who have decided to reject reproduction as well. The tribalists of various stripes are surging in power and numbers.

      • The Deuce

        …deserves the lion’s share of the blame for the suffering in Gaza.

        That I don’t think I agree with. The way I read the situation, the Palestinians have made the absolute most self-destructive decisions possible every step of the way, and worst of all, they’ve proven that any deal made with them will only be used to stab the person foolish enough to make a deal with them in the back at a later date, so that any attempt to help them improve their lot will be punished. Furthermore, they are largely the remnants who stuck around after Jordan, Egypt, and Syria attempted to invade Israel and got smacked down, and so didn’t really have a right to expect the benefit of the doubt.

        The rest of what you said is true though, particularly about Israel’s foolishness in attempting to live as secular, godless liberals while their enemies multiply.

        • Most of the people living in Gaza are under the age of 18, and thus weren’t alive the last time Jordan, Egypt, and Syria fought a war with Israel.

          • The Deuce

            It doesn’t matter. The Palestinians have been hostile nonstop since then, and they’ve gotten worse over time.

      • TMLutas

        When Israel left Gaza, it stopped being responsible for it. Israel’s non-negotiable point is that they must be at peace. Once you stop trying to kill them, cooperation is possible. Hamas’ non-negotiable is that the Jews must be driven into the sea. Timing does not matter to them so much. To view such a situation as one where Jews are more morally culpable is only very charitably false moral equivalence.

        The real kicker is that Hamas’ death cult may very well not be Muslim. That is for the Muslims to determine. An Egyptian jihad into Gaza to burn out the death cult aspects of Palestinian worship is a medium term possibility.

  • ivan_the_mad

    The plight of Christians in the Holy Land is frequently overlooked by American media. But pray indeed for all of them. People deserve life, and children are precious, regardless of creed. War is always revolution and always terrible.

  • While I wouldn’t go so far as calling it a cheap moral equivalence, I would say that I am not comfortable equating the sins of the Israeli government with the sins of Hamas. The violence of an occupying power is simply not on the same moral plane as the violence of the occupied. Even if it was on the same moral plain, the Israelis almost always kill 5-10 times as many Palestinians as the reverse. Did you know that 10% of children in the Gaza strip have their growth stunted by malnutrition and the over half of the population is food insecure? Did you know that a wikileaks cable revealed that keeping the Palestinians on the brink of economic collapse was a deliberate Israeli policy? Did you know that the African National Congress (the organization lead by Nelson Mandela that lead South Africa out of apartheid) has said that the oppression of the Palestinians is worse than that of Aparthied?

    If an abused woman fired a shot at her abusive husband and missed, we would condemn the act. But we would not say that both spouses were sinners. We would not put the abused on the same moral plane as the abuser, and we should not do so in this case.

    This is an issue extremely relevant to subjects covered by your blog. The Israeli occupation, the violent and destructive repression of millions of Palestinians, is armed and funded by the United States. We are their biggest foreign arms supplier, and they are the biggest recipient of our (mostly military) aid. The legitimate security needs of the Israelis can be best met by STARTING to meet the legitimate security needs of the Palestinians.

    I hope you will pray, do some research, and lift your voice against this US funded injustice.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Stick around a bit longer. Mark is hardly silent about injustices perpetrated by Israel. In this particular outbreak of violence it’s been a bit more difficult to determine just what’s going on.

      Prayer for peace is never a bad thing.

      • Prayer for peace can be a bad thing if that prayer equates two unequal parties and thus perpetuates false assumptions about a conflict. Israel holds almost all the power in this situation, and that should never be forgotten.

        • Richard Johnson

          A prayer for peace is never a bad thing as long as you focus on the innocents on both sides who are dying, and who will stop dying if the leaders ever decide to strive for peace rather than war. Does it make a difference if it is an Israeli or Palestinian child who is killed? Does it make a difference if the child is Muslim, Jewish or Christian (or any other faith)?

          • The dying isn’t the only aspect of this conflict. If all the killing stopped, the Palestinians in Gaza would not have peace. They would have an illegal and immoral economic blockade, no good way to leave or return from their country, and violent Israeli night raids. A prayer for peace that ignores this is not really a prayer for peace.

            • Mark Shea

              So who was ignoring that? It’s why I linked the article. Israel has been massively unjust to the Palestinians for a long time and our policy has been to treat Israel as immaculately conceived and incapable of doing anything wrong, while endlessly repeating all the rubbish about who criticizing Israel is to incur a curse and all the rest of it. Only God can untie this Gordian Knot now.

            • Mark Shea

              By the way, what’s bitterly ironic about you and Walsh is that I’m 99% sure Walsh is an advocate for the notion that Israel is the Big Victim here. How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in hostility. Meanwhile, my link makes it pretty obvious that Israel has the lion’s share of blame here, while Palestinians remain moral agents who are choosing to sacrifice innocents–their own and others–in order to just land a punch. In short, everybody remains a moral agent. I don’t know how to resolve that, so I pray for peace–and get attacked for it.

              Psalm 120 [119]
              A Song of Ascents.

              1 In my distress I cry to the LORD,
              that he may answer me:
              2 “Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips,
              from a deceitful tongue.”
              3 What shall be given to you?
              And what more shall be done to you,
              you deceitful tongue?
              4 A warrior’s sharp arrows,
              with glowing coals of the broom tree!
              5 Woe is me, that I sojourn in Meshech,
              that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
              6 Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace.
              7 I am for peace; but when I speak,
              they are for war!

            • Richard Johnson

              “If all the killing stopped, the Palestinians in Gaza would not have peace.”

              I suspect this is why Mark suggested we pray for peace and not an end to the killing. But to arrive at a true peace, the killing must be the first thing to stop, no?

              And again, do you place a higher value on one dead child over the other simply because of the side which happened to do the killing?

        • Mark Shea

          That’s why I linked the article. This situation is one of Israel’s making. But Palestinians remain moral agents. Their choice to insanely sacrifice their own innocents in vengeance for what Israel has done to them remains theirs. But Israel created this situation in their folly.

        • Ted Seeber

          Prayer for peace can ALSO be about granting Palestinians full citizenship and voting rights in Israel, and full annexation and assimilation into Israeli economics.

          Not sure Hamas (or other Islamic radicals) would go for it, and the Zionist extremists sure won’t, but that is the obvious solution.

          • The Deuce

            The problem is, if the Palestinians were given full voting rights and economic assimilation, they would almost certainly use that newfound power to develop more effective methods to murder Israelis, and to vote for decreased protection of Israel against attacks. I’ve got no doubt, btw, that Hamas *would* go for it, for exactly that reason.

            • Ted Seeber

              If given FULL citizenship, then wouldn’t voting to murder Israelis be voting to murder themselves? Wouldn’t decreasing protection for Israel, if given full citizenship and assimilation, be voting to decrease protection for Gaza as well?

              Why would Hamas do that? Better yet, how could they possibly get a majority of Palestinians to open themselves up to attack from Egypt? And better yet, in a Palestinian- heavy Israel in which the rights of Islamics are protected, why would Egypt WANT to attack?

              • The Deuce

                If given FULL citizenship, then wouldn’t voting to murder Israelis be voting to murder themselves?

                They don’t seem to mind murdering themselves in order murder Israelis now, so it doesn’t matter. I doubt “murder Israelis” would be up for a direct vote, but the Palestinians would certainly use the increased resources from economic assimilation to buy better weapons, and they’d use the increased proximity to Israelis afforded by citizenship to walk up to Bar Mitzvahs and blow the children up. Recall that the Palestinians used to be afforded freer travel within Israel, but it had to be restricted precisely because they kept using it to detonate themselves at civilian gatherings (they seemed to especially enjoy birthday parties for children).

                Wouldn’t decreasing protection for Israel, if given full citizenship and assimilation, be voting to decrease protection for Gaza as well?

                Again, they don’t care. They’ve never shown any concern for their own protection if it means a chance at killing Israelis. Besides, what I mean is that they’d vote for looser domestic laws, to make domestic terrorism harder to crack down on and easier to pull off.

                Remember, the Palestinians were given a chance at democracy. They used it to vote in Hamas, and stepped up the attacks. Every single chance they’ve been afforded for peace has been turned into an occasion to step up the violence. It would be crazy of Israel to give them power to vote on Israel’s policies as well. If someone has proven themselves irresponsible with small things, you don’t entrust them with your very life.

            • Mark Shea

              One of the many reasons I pray since I see no human solutions to this.

              • Richard Johnson

                Perhaps the prayer should be amended to include a prayer that partisans’ hearts be made able to accept peace, since so many of the posts here do not seem ready to do so.

            • Richard Johnson

              Deuce, are you suggesting that the only solution to this problem is for one side to eliminate the other? Since you believe that the Palestinians can never be trusted to act fairly in relation to Israel, should Israel simply invade and eliminate the problem by eliminating the Palestinians?

              If not, then how do you see the current situation resolved?

              • The Deuce

                I think elimination of Israel is the only thing that would satisfy the Palestinians. Israel, I think, would be happy if the Palestinians would just give up.

                I don’t think that Israel should eliminate the Palestinians, though it may be that the Palestinians won’t give up short of that. I’m not sure what they should do, to be honest. Like Mark, I pray there’s no human solution to this

                • Richard Johnson

                  “I think elimination of Israel is the only thing that would satisfy the Palestinians.”

                  If you truly believe that, Deuce, then there is no logical alternative but to eliminate the Palestinians. Any solution that leaves them intact, either in a one-state or two-state solution, or that moves them elsewhere in the region (Jordan, Syria, etc.) simply kicks the can down the road and leaves future generations of Israelis at risk, does it not?

                  Another question for you, Deuce (and you as well, TMLutas). Do you hold the civilians in Gaza to blame for electing Hamas in 2006, or more exactly do you hold them to blame for embracing as their government a party with the goal of eliminating Israel?

    • TMLutas

      Israel does not occupy Gaza and has not for years. From this error your post cannot recover. It is simply nonsense. And every responding post that accepted this objectively false fact is also nonsense, independent of the quality of the theology used.

      Israel withdrew from Gaza, Hamas won elections, and Gaza has been at war since. Blockade of a belligerent is not illegitimate war tactics. I do not even believe it is a sin in the manner that Israel does it. Hamas is not honest and it is not efficient. They choose to live like this, in a constant state of warfare. They bear the responsibility of the sovereign. That our Westphalian system has difficulty dealing with the sort of entity Gaza is does not change the moral calculus.

  • Bill

    Prayer for peace is NEVER a bad thing

    • That sounds nice, but it isn’t true. Prayers can have assumptions, and those assumptions can be false. When those prayers are prayed in public, those assumptions become reinforced, SPREADING UNTRUTHS. Praying for peace CAN be bad under certain conditions, and an unjustified assumption to the contrary won’t change that.

      • ivan_the_mad

        You know what they say about assumptions … and you’re making quite a few in this thread.

      • Bill

        as a Catholic, it’s always true

        I’m not a materialist or a pragmatist. Call me fideistic all you want, but I believe it.

      • Mark Shea

        What’s fascinting to me, by the way, is that my prayer is not being regarded as, you know, a prayer to, like, God but is instead being treated as a veiled political statement essentially addressed to man. Doesn’t anybody believe that it’s actually possible for a human being to throw up his hands, say, “I see no way out of this humanly speaking. Help, God!” and mean it?

        Have I mentioned how mortally sick I am of politicized faith?

        • TMLutas

          Your prayer is laudable. Your assignment of moral responsibility is anything but because it minimizes intent and wrongly elevates capability. Hamas wants to kill all the Jews. The Jews do not reciprocate. That is the start and end of first order moral sorting. Israel may very well foul up and sin in many ways but so long as they do not sink to intending genocide, they are the morally superior party compared to the genocidal Hamas.

      • This is possibly the craziest thing I’ve ever seen written about prayer. Set aside the particular issues and problems regarding the Middle East — are you suggesting prayer is not a good idea unless the one doing the prayer fully and without error completely understands the issue she is praying about?

        Of course, naive, ignorant optimist that I am, I assume God takes all prayers, well-meaning or not, laden with erroneous assumptions or not, and cuts through to the truth to do what He thinks is best.

        • Andy

          Thank you Beadgirl – i agree 100% God is able to hear my prayer and in His charity understand what I am asking for or saying thank you for. If only we could find a bit of His charity for our fellow sinners.

  • Frank Sales

    We all pray for peace and and end to violence. But how can you blame Israel for being “massively unjust” when the occupants of Gaza seem to have no desire above the extinction of Israel and the extermination of Jews. If the Palestinians spent 1/10 of the energy they use arming themselves and attacking Israeli civilians on building a functioning society, there would be peace. Every Israeli overture, from withdrawal from Gaza to loosening of border controls is met with increased violence. What would you do, Mark, if you were Prime Minister of Israel charged with the duty of protecting your fellow citizens? The reflex on blaming the more powerful is not always correct.