It’s time to end the phenomenon called “Progressive Except Palestine” (PEP), and progressive Christians ought to lead the way.
Thousands and thousands of progressive Christians are aware of the 54-year-long, brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine – and they care deeply. But millions more have no idea what’s going on in the birthplace of our Savior – or they have an idea that is inaccurate.
The mainstream media has for years demonized the people of Palestine and disguised Israel’s crimes, but the facts are available for those who want them (I’ve personally reported on this media bias here, here, and here; also see this and this).
Christians should not just know about this, but should care – because Jesus made it clear to us in Matthew 25:
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
As a researcher and writer on the subject (here and here, primarily), I have read and reported on many heartrending stories from Israel/Palestine. In the last few weeks, there have been even more incidents involving children than usual – so today, I want to tell you about Palestinian children.
Fasten your seatbelt, and read with Matthew 25 in mind.
On Tuesday, March 9, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was injured by a leftover Israeli ordnance that exploded near him. (Israeli military often conduct training near this village – in 2018, a 3-year-old was shot in the head; other similar incidents have been reported as well.)
On Monday, March 9, two Palestinian youths were shot as Israeli soldiers invaded their neighborhood. (During the same week, there were at least 10 shootings at Palestinians by Israeli military.)
On Saturday, February 27, two Palestinian girls playing on the beach in Gaza were shot at and injured by the Israeli navy. (During the same week, Israeli soldiers – and in some cases, settlers – committed at least 195 violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.)
On Sunday, February 22, Israeli soldiers abducted two Palestinian boys ages 6 and 8, as they played in front of their house. (During the same week, Israeli soldiers – and in some cases, settlers – committed at least 176 violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.)
On Saturday, January 16, Israeli soldiers entered a Palestinian home, demanding to know whether one of the children had thrown a marble at an illegal Israeli settlement built on Palestinian land. (During the same week, Israeli soldiers – and in some cases, settlers – committed at least 199 violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.)
Has your pulse started racing? Those are just a few stories from the last couple of weeks. Here are some recent reports on Israel’s actions toward Palestinian kids (each one is clickable and verifiable, but the headline alone tells the story):
- Israel is systematically poisoning one million Palestinian children (Gaza, Jan. 2020)
- Israel has arrested over 50 thousand children since 1967 (May 2019)
- Crimes against Humanity: Israeli Snipers have shot down 45 Child Gaza Protesters (May 2018)
- Palestinian children throwing stones got longer sentences than Israeli who killed unarmed man (Feb. 2017)
- Report: 1 million Palestinians detained by Israel since 1948 (April 2017)
This is apartheid: Jewish supremacy from the River to the Sea (a report by an Israeli human rights org, Jan. 2021)
Blood pressure rising? It should be. As Christians, we should find these headlines infuriating.
Here are just a few articles about Palestinian children’s experience of occupation as they try to get an education:
- Goliath lives: Palestinian children at risk in school (a list of Israeli military actions against Palestinian schools, fall 2018)
- Without explanation, Israel tears down new Palestinian school in Jerusalem (March 2019)
- Attending school while Palestinian: brief (horror) stories from the last 6 weeks (Nov.-Dec. 2018)
- Israeli Army Denied Soldiers Threw Gas Canister Into Hebron School. Then a Video Surfaced (originally reported by Israeli news outlet Ha’aretz, Dec. 2018)
- 2 stories of the 1st day of school in the Palestinian Territories (Aug. 2018)
- The first day of school in Palestine is unlike any other (Sept. 2017)
- IMEMC Report: Israel Demolishes 3 Schools Days before Start of 2017 School Year (Aug. 2017)
In case you’re still skeptical, here are a few more headlines that illustrate how little value Israel puts on Palestinian lives (Israel almost never investigates incidents of possible police brutality or disproportionate use of force – and when it does, the soldiers are invariably found innocent. This is why Israel is being investigated by the International Criminal Court right now):
- Israeli Military Policy: Continue to Shoot Palestinian Children (originally reported in Ha’aretz, Feb. 2020)
- The Protest Dispersed. Then an Israeli Sniper Shot a 9-year-old Boy in the Head (originally reported in Ha’aretz, July 2019)
- Israeli soldiers shoot Palestinian teen, bleeds to death (Jan. 2021)
- IDF shot a Palestinian Teen, Dragged Him Around, Chased Ambulance Away (originally reported in Ha’aretz, Dec. 2018)
- VIDEO: Israeli soldiers shoot dead 16-year-old with hands up, also kill 17 year old (Sept. 2018)
- Shattered Limbs, Broken Dreams: Life for Gaza Athletes after Surviving Israeli Bullets (Sept. 2018)
- Israeli Forces Kill Two Palestinian Boys in Gaza Who Posed No Threat (Feb. 2018)
- Youngsters “disabled for life” by Israel’s shoot-to-cripple policy in Gaza (June 2018)
- Israeli forces kill 19-year-old with bullet to the head (Feb. 2018)
- A Palestinian Teen Puts His Hand in His Pocket. His Punishment: A Bullet in the Face (originally reported in Ha’aretz, Dec. 2017)
- Israel says teen fell and died as he fled soldiers. Witness Describes Gruesome Violence (originally reported in Ha’aretz, Nov. 2020)
- Israel arrests child with one-third of his skull missing, then lies about it (Feb. 2018 – a must-read)
And finally, in our headline run-down, here are other miscellaneous stories of Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation in the land we call “Holy”:
- Two Palestinian children killed in home fire after Israel blocks fire trucks (March 2019)
- Israeli soldiers invade orphanage school to stop ‘Yes to Peace’ poetry (June 2019)
- Israeli Authorities Summon 3-Year Old Child for Interrogation (originally reported in Ha’aretz, July 2019)
- Gideon Levy: Israel’s massacre of family is a war crime (originally reported in Ha’aretz, Nov. 2019)
- Gazan Girl Fighting Cancer Died After Israel Denied Her Parents’ Visit. She Won’t Be the Last (originally reported in Ha’aretz, March 2020)
- Playground or battleground? 2 stories in 1 weekend (Nov. 2018)
- Israel bombs children’s hospital on Christmas (Dec. 2020)
- WATCH: 2-minute video about mother and toddler killed in Gaza by Israeli forces (Aug. 2018)
I trust you get the picture.
Advocates for Palestinians are not looking for donations, but simply trying to build an educated electorate. Israel’s atrocities are only possible because the US (and other countries) turn a blind eye. The US Congress gives Israel over $3.8 billion a year in aid – that’s more than $10 million a day. We are subsidizing these abuses.
As Christians (especially progressive Christians who haven’t fallen for the endtimes nonsense), we have an obligation to do what we can about this travesty. Share information (for example, this post!). Learn more (I recommend some great films, books, and websites here). Tell your pastor (a few Christian websites that I can personally recommend are here and here).
And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. (Mark 9:42)
OTHER POSTS ON PALESTINE:
Israel, Palestine, and Covid 19: a travesty
This Christmas in Bethlehem, Palestine
The least of these need to see God in us
FEATURED IMAGE: “Scenes from Gaza After Israeli Air Strikes” by United Nations Photo is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0