Maybe we’ve stopped praying for Palestine. Maybe we never cared to start. Maybe it was too hard to ask God for a fix to this complex situation; and, hey, we don’t know the history well enough.
I hear lots of Christians decrying violence in Kenya – cuz, ya know, there are missionaries there. It’s a “save-able” country.
I haven’t heard much Christian response to the remarks made by Israeli deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai that if Hamas does not stop its rocket fire, then it will be in for a big shoah and Israel will defend itself at all costs.
What does shoah mean? Well, it can be translated as “big disaster”. But, for most folks who speak Hebrew, shoah generally means holocaust. It is almost exclusively used to describe the mass extermination of the Jews during World War II, and certainly it would not be used by a high ranking official in public for any other reason.
Did he mean a “big disaster”? No, I don’t think so, not any more than a homophobic bigot calls someone a “fag” and means “cigarette”. He meant holocaust.
Holocaust. Just roll that around in your brain a little. He was encouraging genocide. There’s no getting around that. Israeli government officials are toppling over themselves to marginalize Vilnai, but his comments are probably much more reflective of Israeli officials thoughts then they want everybody else to know.
For those unfamiliar with what is happening, let’s start from the (most recent) beginning. Because of rocket fire that had come from Gaza last year, on September 19, 2007, the Israeli security cabinet unanimously declared all of Gaza an “enemy entity”. As a result, the Israeli Occupation Forces were given the ability to do what was basically already in place: cut off the borders and all supplies coming in/going out of Gaza.
As reported by Gaza Community Mental Health Programme Director Eyad Al Sarraj on January 17th before the IOF cut off all electric power to Gaza:
[The] Israeli military establishment decided to stop power supply and fuel to Gaza. Since Thursday, food and humanitarian aid are not allowed in. Very soon life will come to a standstill. Water will not be pumped for a even drink. My step-son is on ventilator for asthma every night. What will happen to him when our generator is not running anymore? What will happen to hospitals, vaccines and blood banks? What will happen to patients on dialysis machines, and to babies in incubators?
Before it is dark and when there is no communication with the world, I want to tell you that the current Israeli policy of squeezing [Gaza] has the aim of pushing Egypt to open its borders with Gaza and bring the situation to [Egyptian occupation as it was] prior 1967. Israel will then close its borders with Gaza, separate the Strip from the West bank, and destroy the peace proposals of one state or two states. In short, Israel is fulfilling the Sharon unilateral withdrawal strategy. If Egypt fails to open its borders with Gaza, Israel will push us through Rafah towards the Sinai desert. Wait for the exodus.
Right now, what could ostensibly be called “refugees” are flooding the border with Egypt looking for any basic supplies they can get: food, water, etc. Meanwhile, Gaza lives in darkness. And with the constant bombardment of missile-strikes
Hamas, three days ago, sent rockets into the town of Sderot, killing one Israeli student. Since then, Israeli military forces have killed 30 Palestinians. Civilians for the most part.
Perhaps, as the sun sets in Gaza, the darkness can hide the suffering of shoah. Yet, with each rising day, there is a chance to bring injustice to light in the rays of the morning sun and to demand an end to oppression and a commitment to reconciliation.
If you feel under-educated on Israel-Palestine, feel free to visit the following sites. I make no attempt at “objectivity” or comprehensiveness. I have no love for suicide bombings or rocket launchers that Hamas funds; I neither have any sympathy for a multi-billion dollar military murdering children. Yet, I think the voices of the poor, homeless, and oppressed – usually the Palestinians in this case – go unheard in the public debate.
The Gun and the Olive Branch by David Hirst – a primer on the history of Palestine-Israel since the early 20th century until 9-11.
Electronic Intifada – Updated daily with commentary from Middle East analysts and activists.
B’tselem – Israeli Human Rights Organization
Al-Haq – Documents War Crimes in Palestine
Al-Mezan – Palestinian Human Rights Organization
Edit: More Resources on Israel-Palestine below
Amnesty Int. Report: Enduring Occupation, June 2007
Yesh Din: Human Rights Workers Documenting Law Enforcement and Military Law in Palestine
Sabeel – Palestinian Liberation Theology
Update, Saturday March 1: Two IOF Soliders and 59 Palestinians (at least 29 of which were civilians, 5 children) were killed today in gun fire in the streets of Jabaliya in the Gaza Strip. Go to Israeli daily news site Ha’aretz to read more.