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Desmond Tutu, formerly archbishop of the Anglican Church in South Africa and a well-known anti-apartheid activist, is one of those people that accuse the state of Israel of practicing the crime of apartheid when it comes to how Palestinians are being treated. This is a quite controversial accusation though, even if it is supported by several human rights advocates and academics, it has also received a lot of criticism, since the situation in Israel and Palestine is noticably different from the South African case.
Mitchell G Bard from Jewish Virtual Library points at the fact that around 20% of Israeli citizens are Arabs that have equal rights compared to Jews and other people groups in Israel. Arabs and Muslims are represented in Knesset, in the courts and at the universities. FW De Klerk, former South African President who together with Nelson Mandela ended apartheid, also says that because of this reason it is unfair to call Israel an apartheid state. “You have Palestinians living in Israel with full political rights. They are represented in the Knesset. You don’t have discriminatory laws against them, for example that they may not swim at certain beaches or anything like that.”
However, people who use the apartheid analogy to describe Israeli policy usually discusses how Palestinians are treated by Israel in the West Bank and Gaza rather than how Arabs are treated within Israel. The thing is that race actually can equal nationality according to international law. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which Israel along with most other countries has signed, defines racial discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life” (emphasis mine).
I involuntarily get a lot of updates from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in my social media feeds, since I follow other Christians and some of them think it’s godly to share and retweet war propaganda (frankly, that’s what military forces’ public messages are, per definition). IDF regularly updates how many rockets are being fired from Gaza and how far they reach, but not so often what destruction these rockets cause. And this is of course because most of them either miss or get shot down. Whenever they hit something though, IDF immediately shares it on Twitter:
Well… it sure sucks for those people living there, but personally, I wouldn’t kill 200 children because of that. IDF started “Operation Pillar of Defense” before one single person had been killed by the Palestinian rockets. During the conflict though, three Israeli civilians have unfortunately been killed, and IDF could provide some more disturbing images: (more…)
As the conflict in Israel and Gaza is going on, conservative Christian friends of mine are posting videos and images that tell the message that everything is Hamas fault while Israel only defends itself, that Hamas wants to kill civilians and use them as human shields while Israel actively tries to avoid hurting civilians, that Hamas wants war while Israel wants peace, that Hamas is evil while Israel is good. Over and over again I hear that if Hamas lays down its weapons, there will be peace, but if Israel does it all Israelis will be killed. One Christian friend told me that Israel is righteous while Hamas has a demonic, Nazi spirit.
Now, there are indeed big differences between Hamas and Israel. Hamas is a fundamentalist organization where there is a lot of antisemitism and hatred, and they do indeed target civilians and use them as human shields. But to blame everything on them and nothing on Israel, is not a true portrait of reality. Israel has done attrocities (for example, the use of human shields) and many of them are on a structural level: the settlements, not letting enough goods through to Gaza in order to stop the humanitarian crisis, breaking international humanitarian law over and over again, etc.
And in the conflict, it is the Palestinians that suffer and die the most. People that are pro-Israel often point out how many rockets Hamas is firing into Israel, but they are often quite silent about the fact that very few die from them. During operation Cast Lead in 2009, 1391 Palestinians died and 5 Israelis. More than half of the killed Palestinians were civilians, while all five of the killed Israelis were soldiers. In the current conflict between Hamas and Israel, over 100 Palestinians have died and 77% of them are civilians. (more…)
One of the most amazing events during World War Two was that a small Italian village called San Giovanni Rotondo never was bombed. The Allied forces tried to eliminate a German base there several times, but they never succeeded. The reason? All the pilots who flew near the village suddenly saw a monk who stretched out his hands towards them, signing that he wanted them to turn back.
General Bernardo Rosini of the United Air Command reported that
“Each time that the pilots returned from their missions, they spoke of this Friar that appeared in the sky and diverted their airplanes, making them turn back. Everyone was talking about these incredible stories. But since the episodes kept recurring, the Commanding General of USAF General Nathan F. Twining, who happened to be in Bari, decided to pilot himself a squadron of bombers to destroy a target near San Giovanni Rotondo.
“When he and his pilots were in the vicinity of the target, they saw the figure of a monk with upraised hands appear in the sky. The bombs got loose from the plains falling in open areas, and the planes made a sharp turn to return to base without the pilots intervening.
“Back on the ground, everybody asked everybody else about the happening and wanted to know who was that friar. The General was told about Padre Pio and decided to visit him with the pilots in that squadron. The pilots immediately recognized Padre Pio, and he told the general: “So you are the one that wanted to destroy everything.”
A week ago many Charismatic and evangelical Christians started to express their anger towards the increased rocket attacks from Hamas. They eagerly reported how many rockets were fired every day. They described the pain, fear and horror Israelis felt when they had to flee into bomb shelters (see the clip above). They mourned that four Israeli soldiers had been injured by the rockets.
However, no one I saw mentioned that while these rocket attacks to that point had killed no one, four civilian Palestinians were killed and thirty were injured in the counter attacks of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). There’s no doubt that we as Christians need to sound the alarm when the Israeli people is facing suffering and fear because of the violent terrorist attacks of Hamas. But that duty forces us to sound the alarm even more if the Palestinians is faceing more suffering and fear because of violent IDF attacks. (more…)