Palestine, especially the injustice in Gaza, is topmost in my heart right now. I have tried to write posts for several days about other topics, but it just doesn’t work. Soon, inshallah, as the situation in the Holy Land returns to a measure of sanity, I will return to regularly scheduled programming (a variety of topics, from abortion to sexual orientation, and most of all, the words of Jesus).
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The last time I wrote, Gaza and Israel had just entered a ceasefire. Eleven days later, the rockets and warplanes are still on the ground. This is something to celebrate. But make no mistake: this is not peace.
“Peace” doesn’t just require the absence of war – there is no real peace without justice.
Wherever people know they are being oppressed, whether by their government, their fellow citizens, or even their own community, family, or neighbors, there is war. And whenever oppressors feel their power is threatened, there is war.
There was war inside me when my Conservative Christian Community (not-lovingly nicknamed my CCC) spiritually abused me. I was able to leave that community and the injustice I experienced there.
There is war inside Black Americans when they (and their allies) take to the streets after the unjust death of yet another of their own. They want justice – and oppressed groups don’t get justice by asking politely. You get it by demanding it, and making clear to your oppressor that it’s more expedient to administer justice than to perpetuate oppression.
Black Americans are still dying at the hands of police, still struggling with poverty and all the other injustices, so their war goes on.
As we all know, such wars often escalate: a few protesters smash a window or start a fire or take up arms. We as onlookers might think these actions are uncalled for, unhelpful – but we should see them for what they are: the desperation and anger of injustice boiling over, an indication that the issue has been ignored far too long.
And instead of asking the oppressed to “behave themselves,” we need to ask ourselves, why are they so angry, and what needs to change?
War on injustice in Gaza
The people of Gaza have been oppressed by an Israeli siege that is going into its fifteenth year. That’s a decade and a half of severe shortages of food, medicine, and many other staples of life. A decade and a half incarcerated in a tiny strip of land, then bombarded by warplanes. A decade and a half of war in the hearts of Gazans.
Before the siege, there was dispossession. About 70% of Gazans are the families of refugees, forced off their land in 1948 or 1967. They have had war in their hearts – a desire to throw off their oppressors – for decades.
My husband’s aunt has spent most of her 94 years in a refugee camp in Gaza, after being a member of one of the wealthiest families in her village of Ibdis. Don’t assume that 94 is too old to feel anger at injustice.
The month of May saw an escalation of the war in Gazans’ hearts. When the people saw Israel desecrating the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and ethnically cleansing the Palestinians of Sheikh Jarrah, they added it to their own oppression – and it boiled over.
Note that Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza, gave Israel a warning: get out of the mosque and Sheikh Jarrah, or you will pay.
Israel chose to go to war. Hamas may have fired the first rocket, but Israel chose the path.
A ceasefire has been in place since May 21, but there is no peace. Israel continues to ravage the Al Aqsa Mosque and provoke the Palestinian residents of Sheikh Jarrah. Israel has not yet realized that it’s more expedient to administer justice than to perpetuate oppression.
The world is noticing, though. Millions have marched in solidarity with the Palestinian people as they stand up to their oppressor, and millions are watching.
Americans have been conditioned to think of Hamas as a “terror group” (and indeed, some of its members have in the past carried out terrorist acts – a subject for another post). But today’s Hamas is merely resisting the oppression of Israel. Terrorism is bombing buildings full of innocent civilians. Terrorism is killing doctors, bombing the streets to hospitals, shooting a child and then blocking the ambulance from coming to save his life. Who would not go to war against these injustices?
I encourage you to throw off the conditioning you’ve been steeped in – the idea that Hamas is a terror group, that the solution for Gaza is to get rid of Hamas, that what’s needed is an end to the “rockets.” Instead, look at the oppression, acknowledge the righteous anger of the people and their fight for justice.
I will have much more to say about Palestine and Israel in the days to come. Please sign up for my newsletter to stay up to date (usually 2-3 posts a week).
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