Israel and Gaza – Outlaws: 2 August

To write about Israel and Gaza or not to write? My few words will make no difference to the war. They may, though, provoke an angry response from some of my wider Jewish family, in Israel and America. My brother has posted ‘Enough Already!’ on Facebook, critical of the Israeli government. He has been taken to task by family members. Now, I want to keep good relationships with my family. A sunny photo of related Israelis, Americans and Brits is above my mantelpiece. I am writing an account of our grandfather’s life and want their assistance. My daughter’s wedding is next year and I want their presence. Good reasons to keep quiet.

And yet… My Muslim friend from a Pakistani family says that if I keep quiet, how can anyone expect any Muslim in a more oppressive society to speak up about the stupidity of Hamas firing tin pot rockets at a country they know will retaliate with F15s?

My aunt used to say that our family is a mini United Nations. (When we gathered in Israel we included Mongolians and an Egyptian.) In the United Nations there is bound to be disagreement, but also a common commitment to keeping relationship, keep talking. It would impoverish the family, especially a Jewish family, if we refrain from speaking because we know others will disagree.

The view of this British Christian with Jewish and Israeli relatives is:

Israel started this war by going after Hamas in the West Bank under the pretext of searching for missing Israeli teenagers, knowing that Hamas are bound, under their own ideology, to retaliate. No evidence has been provided that Hamas were responsible for the teenagers’ death. Hamas had ensured for a few years that rocket attacks from Gaza were considerably less than previously. (‘Rocket firings, averaging 240 per month in 2007, dropped to five per month in 2013.’ http://forward.com/articles/201764/how-politics-and-lies-triggered-an-unintended-war/?p=1 ) Israel would have known that rocket attacks are the most likely response to Israeli aggression.

Israel attacked Hamas because Israel, for some time, has given up on relying on the Law, relying on military might instead. When a crime is committed, such as the abduction and eventual murder of three Israeli teenagers, the legal response is to investigate, find evidence, apprehend the perpetrators, determine their guilt and apply the previously agreed penalty. This is the rule of Law. It takes determination, time and patience. The military response is to kick the hell out of ‘them’ for what they have done, coming to quick conclusions about who ‘they’ are and pragmatic conclusions about how much kicking to administer – mostly as much as we think we can get away with / enough to teach them a lesson they will not forget.

The rule of Law is a great Jewish contribution to human civilisation. In the Jewish, Old Testament, tradition, kings are not above the Law. If kings violate the law they are taken to task and warned by prophets and, eventually, they, and the whole nation, can lose the LORD’s support. The rule of Law was made plain by the very first king being disowned by the LORD. The Israeli government has not just flouted the rule of Law, of Torah, they have thrown it in the rubbish bin.

Israel has been encouraged to do this by the US, Britain and other countries who also decided after 9/11 not to apply the rule of Law to terrorists but to kick the hell out of them and anyone who supports them.

Israel is acting like Austria-Hungary 100 years ago. The Austrians insisted on sending their troops into Serbia to ‘get’ those who had assassinated the Archduke, using the military, not the law. The outcome was the death of hundreds of thousands all over Europe. The US and Britain did the same after 9/11. Israel has done the same now. When will people stop repeating the mistakes of history?

Israel has retaliated for Hamas rockets and continues to retaliate, in huge disproportion to the damage inflicted by Hamas. The great Jewish principle of equivalent response, ‘one eye for one eye..,’ is being horrendously flouted.

Israel believes it can stop future war by fighting hard now. Once Israeli security is established, Israelis will carry on with life. The truth is that even the war to end all wars only created another war. Wars do not make peace. Wars only create quiet through intimidation for a while. Especially when there is no attempt to make peace in other ways. The Israeli blockade of Gaza is like the demand of France and Britain for heavy reparations from Germany after the First World War – fuelling future war.

Israel is right to regard Hamas as an outlaw organisation which needs to be combatted. The way to combat Hamas is to use the Law, including international law and especially Torah, and, when necessary, to respond to violence with violence only with an equivalent effect. The US, Britain and other countries also need to return to the rule of Law.

Israel is losing respect and friends across the world. Israel is fortunate at the moment to have sympathetic governments in Egypt and the Gulf. For these governments combatting Islamic terrorism is one of their high priorities. In a few years, the priority will swing towards addressing the grievances which lead to support for Islamic terrorism, one of which is the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and ‘de facto’ of Gaza.

Israel is named after Jacob. Jacob lost God’s blessing and had to the leave the land when he allowed his sons to retaliate against a local tribe with massacre. (Genesis 34 onwards.)

Israel needs to hear old words afresh: ‘Not by strength, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.’ (Zechariah 4:6) If Israel continues to ignore the ways of the LORD, what future can it have?

Jesus weeps for his people, as He did before.

Roger Harper

For a good Jewish view see http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/conf-call-with-sami-awad-plus-rabbi-seidernbeg-on-jewish-ethics-in-gaza-noa-isaeli-singer-and-her-comments-on-the-sturggle-and-peter-beinart-on-the-myths-about-gaza

For a good Christian view see http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/articles/trying-to-make-sense-of-gaza/

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2 Responses to “Israel and Gaza – Outlaws: 2 August”

  1. Philip Tyers Says:

    I like the way you draw attention to Law. In the British legal system we sometimes use law to change the instincts, for example in our equality legislation. You correctly observe that Bible law undergirds Western law, British and American. Commands to annihilate the pre-Israeli residents of the land was presumably replaced with the laws about respecting the Stranger in our midst, and “love your enemy” is shockingly commanded in the same chapter as loving your neighbour. Had Israel pursued the attack on the three teenagers as a criminal act, as you suggest they could have, they could have appealed to Hamas as a parallel legal authority for assistance in bringing the perpetrators to justice. They could have invited the assistance of the Palestinian police chief instead of bombing his home. They could have defended the Palestinians in their midst and pursued their attackers. They could rely on Iron Dome as well as their just attitude. You correctly recite how Britain and the US slip into anti-terrorist mode when it suits us, instead of supporting the continuing rule of law.

    You refer to ‘not by might nor by power but by my Spirit’. Israel and the West have a dual response to Spirit. We pretend to be secular, but acknowledge there’s ‘something there’. We cannot be ruled by one in whom we doubt. A secular interpretation of ‘Spirit’ might demand not belief in God, but the basic humanist attitude of hope, trust, respect, even love. The one thing that works with recalcitrant prisoners is unceasing, implacable respect. Which will risk showing this first: Israel or Hamas? Or can neither adopt that tactic until the West does?

    Our local Muslims are demanding an even handed broadcasting of information about the Gazan conflict.

  2. Tariq Says:

    Hi Roger,

    Extremely well put and very brave of you, you certainly called my bluff.
    We often forget the rule of Law, just like our kings of past once they became anointed, They often at times forgot the anointer or believed in their quest that they had become higher than that of the creator.

    I am working on a blog and assure you, I will update you soon my very good Semitic Christian friend.

    From your Kashmiri Muslim friend.

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