The ever moving feast of reasons offered as to why our condemnation of Israel's disproportionate violence in Gaza has seemingly taken us to a new point. We have heard 'Israel has a right to defend themselves' and ' Hamas hide behind children' but even so the social media world has continued to offer criticism even whilst many media outlets have been complicit by their relative silence.
Now we are being offered 'Ah but what about the terrible things happening in Syria' as if this should still our tongues about murdered Palestinian children.
In reality there is no real way of making comparisons between the death tolls because every person is someone's son, daughter, brother, sister, mother, father. They may be nameless on our TV screens but there are tears flowing for each one of them.
At this time I have given most of my efforts, thought not exclusively, to highlighting the plight of Palestinian people and so have had to think long and hard about both my motives and my methods.
Here are a few reasons why I will continue to speak about Gaza:
1) The conflict in Syria should never be used as a way of silencing voices over the troubles in Gaza. One Facebook friend put up this caption with a link to Syrian beheadings: 'And this, what do we say about this, what about these children....'
Given the person's support of the modern state of Israel as a fulfilment of biblical prophecy, and recent discussions we had been part of, it was hard not to draw the conclusion that this was less about the plight of the Syrians and more a call for silence over the Israeli atrocities.
So I join them in condemning the evil of ISIS; as do many of the Muslims I know (this is not often reported).
2) There are several differences between the situation in Syria and that of the Palestinians. Firstly it needs to be noted the huge numbers of casualties in Syria. Secondly Syria is being presented as an internal struggle. Thirdly the majority of the watching world condemns the actions of ISIS. Lastly refugees from this conflict area are being given access to other lands in order to escape the violence.
This in no way is meant to underplay the problem but it needs to be acknowledge that most western countries have continued to sanction Israel's unacceptable show of force. If we add to this the imposition of border controls limiting the movement of the Palestinians we can start to see how this becomes problematic.
So in conclusion I offer these commitments:
- I will continue to speak against all violence - I believe this to be the way of Christ.
- I will continue to ignore the calls of some evangelicals to give Israel a free pass because of a few misused biblical verses.
- Until the western powers (including the UK) condemn the disproportionate use of violence I will continue to write about Gaza.
- Until the Palestinian people are given the rights assigned to them under the UN regulations (including free border access) I will not be silent.
And if anyone mentions a conflict in another part of the world and asks me 'what about these children' I will join them in condemnation of the violence but I will not allow them to use it as a weapon to silence me on the war crimes committed by Israel.