Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Thoughts on Israel/Palestine

Prior to last year, I wanted peace in Israel and Palestine as much as the next person, which typically means, "yes, peace is good to want, but the reality is that these people just continue to fight." I know this sounds terrible to think to yourself, much less write down and post, but truthfully, most of those who are on the outside looking in from a nice comfortable and safe position think very little of how to actually help to work toward peace.

The summer of 2007, I went to a School of Mission put on by United Methodist Women and took the course on Israel-Palestine. I was given the opportunity to look at this situation anew. I watched a few videos and read the book and looked at a variety of newspaper articles and realized I cared very much what happens in Israel and Palestine. I do not care because of the religious implications or the political implications, but because people, real people, innocent people, are being hurt on both sides of this situation.

When I came back from the study, and before I taught it in my church, I did further independent study. As a result of this, I found a blog entitled "Life must go on in Gaza and Sderot." It is written by two friends; 'Hope Man' who lives in Sderot, Israel, a small town near Gaza, and 'Peace Man' who lives in Sajaia refugee camp in Gaza, Palestine. They tell of their life and the lives of those around them that face the reality of what we only see on the news.

I periodically check this blog and have been more so in the last 15-20 days or so. The recent posts are very disturbing to me. Hope Man writes of the sentiments of those in Israel.
The public opinion in Israel is largely supporting the war. A poll taken shortly after the attack said that over 81% of the population in Isreal supports the action. I am not sure the poll is accurate and what more recent polls will show, but I expect that this percentage will decrease only slightly.
Obviously, there is a great deal of fear on the part of those who live near the Gaza strip on the Israel side. They are within rocket range of the Hamas, and as such live with the threat regularly. Those in the rest of Israel know that this is a threat and, of course, are sympathetic with their governement and their fellow citizens.

But there is more to it than that. They fear for their children.
The ongoing reality of rockets falling in Sderot and other places for 8 years is a terrible reality. Many people of our region have left it for good over the years. Bringing up children in such a reality seems almost abusive and certainly irresponsible.
However, Hope Man does not necessarily think that Israel's attack of Gaza is entirely warranted or unavoidable, and has written this statement:
With that said, I personally think it is a terrible mistake that could have been avoided. For 5 months there was an almost complete cease fire. Instead of taking advantage of this long period of quiet to reach a long term agreement, both sides spent their time preparing for this war by planning and arming. No serious efforts were made to start a dialog. The siege by Isreal continued and the smuggling of arms by the Hamas continued. It was a cease fire but only to prepare for the next terrible round which we are experiencing this very moment.
You can read his entire post dated January 2, 2009.

Peace Man wrote when he could between the shelling and power outages. His most recent post talks about the deaths that have occurred and the mind-boggling devastation to their lives.

Israeli announced when they started the operation they want to stop the rockets from Gaza they can't do this by targeting the civilians. What is going in Gaza is real and big crime, against all the laws in the world, they are killing everything moving, especially the civilians.

When the operation started in Gaza, they destroyed all the government centers, and in the same time killed many civilians, Israel said they don’t mean to kill civilians. But when the ground operation started, most people die is civilians and children.
Prior to the start of this round of fighting, Peace Man was trying to be able to get back to his university studies in Europe. He was having difficulty because Israel was letting only a very few students leave Gaza, and he was trying to raise the funds to be able to go. Somethings we take for granted, like being able to go to college or the ability to move between states and cities.

These two men are probably under ten miles apart. I live approximately 28 miles from the nearest town in the next state. I could cross the border and never realize I left my state. No one would be waiting for me to ask for my papers, or to give me a hard time about the state I lived in. We take these things for granted, when so many people cannot travel freely or live unmolested lives.

I would encourage you to do some research on your own, and not just take the media's position or government position without your own thinking thrown in the mix. I would ask that you pray for these two men who write of their experiences that the world may know, and pray for peace in their land.

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