I’m sick and tired of hearing friends complain about how horrible the nation of Israel is with regard to the current conflict in Gaza. While I can understand that people would object to violence in the world and the unpleasantness of war, it frustrates me when citizens – and Christians in particular – jump into judgment of conflict without taking the time to consider the context of the situation.
The current military incursion by Israeli forces into the Gaza strip is a matter of extensive criticism by many of the left as well as many conservatives. In order to fully understand the situation, though, it is important to consider some of the history of the region - starting in ancient times and continuing until today. Let me be very clear - I support the nation of Israel. My hope is that following this entry, my readers will have clearer understanding of the complexity of the issue and maybe come to appreciate the importance of this current conflict and its implications for the stability of the region.
The Jewish people trace their history in the region to the calling of Abram by God, which is recorded in the book of Genesis in chapter 12:
Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Genesis 12:1-3)The religious branches of the Jewish community, believe that the Palestinian region was granted to them by God. As Christians, we also believe this. On the other hand, the opposition within the Palestinian Authority and groups like Hamas are Sunni Muslims who are religiously and ideologically opposed to the existence of Israel. Both religious groups view Israel, and specifically Jerusalem as a holy site.
The contemporary debate stems over whether or not the secular state of Israel has a legitimate right to the region, since the U.N. chose to draw the boundaries lines in order to establish the Jewish state in the 1940s. Palestinians reject the legitimacy of this decision. The seriousness of this debate is a little absurd to me. The international community has established the boundary lines of countless nations across the world - look at the geographical boundaries of the African states. These lines were established almost entirely without the support of the native people, but are still recognized by the international community without much more than some minor intellectual debate over the wisdom of the decision - the actual authority of the decision is rarely questioned, at least in in regard to its legitimacy today. Israel remains the state that should not exist, to most other nations.
Following the establishment of the Jewish state, Arab opposition attacked the nation the next day in a tragic war. Surprisingly the nation of Israel survived and repelled the opposition. In 1967, Israel was again attacked in the Six Day War where Israel fought back Arabs who sought to destroy the nation - again. The objective of the Arabs? "No recognition. No peace. No negotiations." - Sounds reasonable, right? Israel held them off and gained territory in the West Bank and Gaza - territory claimed after an unprovoked attack against the Jewish sovereign state.
Then, in 1973 the Yom Kippur War broke out - with Syria and Egypt both attacking Israel on their holy day. This conflict was also responsible for the oil embargo that impacted the United States in the 1970s. In 1978, the Camp David Accords were signed between the Israeli Prime Minister and the Egyptian President, later responsible for the 1979 peace treaty between these nations.
Then at the turn of the century, modern terrorism reared its ugly face in the region. Palestinian terrorists began to attack the nation again through repeated suicide bombings across the nation and later through continual surface-to-surface bombing from border countries. To avoid unnecessary escalation of the violence, Israel constructed a complex and expensive missile defense and interception program, called their "Iron Dome." The United States has also contributed millions of dollars to this program. Israel has confirmed that this system intercepts 90% of missiles that threaten military or civilian targets. This systems has been used to intercept the vast majority of missiles deployed by Hamas - a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel, which is now working with the Palestinian Authority. This relationship has allowed Hamas to receive foreign aid assistance from the United States. See the acknowledgement of this situation from US Senator Rand Paul.
Israel has been forced to be overly strict and militaristic toward refugees and opposition within Gaza and the West Bank, out of need to preserve their own existence in light of the constant threats from Palestinians and other Arab opposition. Yes, there have been abuses and missteps by Israel and its leaders. Yes, the Palestinians have reason to feel slighted from the UN acknowledgement of Israel in 1948. Yes, Israel does treat Palestinians harshly. But spending millions of dollars on a defense system to avoid war with those that initiate the conflict should be a good testimony to the intentions of this nation. I seriously doubt that the United States or any other developed nation would go so far to avoid war with an aggressor that has declared their desire to destroy us. And remember - Israel has always spoke out in favor of peace with Arabs. Arabs have responded by demanding the complete destruction if Israel and the Jewish people.
Israel is the bomb. Why is it that such a small speck of land should be such a villain? Just consider the human rights abuses against women, Christians, and Jews by Palestinians, Hamas, and other Muslim groups. Read about them. Study them.
It is embarrassing when Americans criticize the treatment of Palestinian Arabs out of an American context. Israel has been fighting for their own existence since 1947 - whether right or wrong, is it really so extreme that they would distrust those that openly oppose their existence? Why are American Christians so willing to side with the misogynistic and religiously-extreme Sunni radicals over the only stable democracy in the Middle East?
America must stand behind our ally Israel and be willing to defend their right to exist as a sovereign state.
- Evan Gillespie