By Martin Saunders
The world in 2014 is an ugly place. Social, political and religious unrest is dominating the news, and not just in an isolated location. Ukraine, Iraq, Gaza, the Central African Republic, Syria… the list seems endless and overwhelming. With almost no unifying theme except the age old motivators of money and power, half the planet seems to be locked in internal conflict and civil war.
There is no end of opportunities for activist Christians to become engaged. From lobbying to protect ‘our own’ being persecuted by IS in Mosul to fighting to ensure the world doesn’t ignore the horrors taking place in the CAR, believers are giving, campaigning and praying their way around these various global catastrophes. But there’s one conflict which is more complicated. One about which many Christians feel anything from awkwardness to utter paralysis.
This conflict is not new. We’ve turned a blind eye to Gaza for too long.
The situation changes daily – sometimes by the hour – but as I write, Israel and Hamas are in the midst of an uneasy truce, after almost 100 Israelis and close to 2,000 Palestinians have been killed. According to the UN, at least 1,300 of them were civilians.
Of course there are many Christians who have long campaigned on behalf of Palestinians, and many more who have raised grave concerns about what is happening in Gaza specifically. There is also a large group who have taken an opposite view – that Israel is hemmed in by countries that want its extinction. Billions of dollars of US government backing supports this view.
But the awkward truth is that lots of evangelicals have consciously looked away. We’ve done that because it’s complicated – because it isn’t as simple as a fight between ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’. We’ve done it because we know it’s an incredibly divisive subject, and we’d rather not offend or alienate people. But we can’t go on ignoring it. Here are just a few of the hurdles we face, and a few thoughts on overcoming them:
PROBLEM #1: It’s not as simple as good guys vs bad guys
Hamas – the terrorist army inside the Gaza strip – fire rockets into Israel, often indiscriminately. Yet Israel fights them with disproportionate force, leading to the many civilian casualties. Any justification offered for this activity – including the disputed claims that Hamas is using human shields – lacks any kind of moral resonance. The problem with many discussions about the conflict is that they quickly disappear down this blind alley. No one is the good guy. But the children of Gaza – the UN reports at least 400 of the dead Palestinian civilians were under 16 – definitely aren’t the bad guys. http://www.christiantoday.com/article/the.awkward.truth.about.evangelicals.and.gaza/39393.htm