Israel under Fire
Israel - Middle East
Friday, October 16, 2015
Those who keep a watchful eye on headlines coming out of the Middle East shouldn't really be surprised at the current attacks on Jewish citizens in Israel. The ingredients for this escalating violence have been cooking in the pot for a long time.
However, much of the western world has remained blasé. When it does pay notice, ISIS or the Syrian conflict gets the most attention. Even then, as long as they're not directly affected, casual observers are happy to get back to their lattes and other pursuits.
I suspect some are skeptical as to whether there's anything particularly significant in the current stabbing attacks. They likely view these as another temporary flare-up among fiery people who can't seem to get along. Inevitably, somewhere down the track, Israel will be blamed and they'll talk about the so-called Two State Solution...again.
I recall a relative once asking a rhetorical question during family lunch: "Why don't the Palestinians and Israelis just put away their guns and get along?" Someone else chimed in by suggesting that Israel should simply return the "stolen land" to the Palestinians if they really want peace.
It was too easy to find facile solutions to complex issues over Christmas Turkey. I've had many similar latte conversations. I bet most people have.
Responding to simplistic statements is frustrating because it's inevitably met with skepticism by people who haven't closely followed the situation. They've been fed diets of media tidbits and language biased against Israel - e.g., the use of the words "occupation" and "apartheid." Often ignoring evidence to the contrary, there's a resistance to believe the problem lies with one group of people wanting to annihilate the other.
The current attacks on Jews haven't occurred in a vacuum. They have little to do with "stolen land" or "oppression." Tensions between Jews and Arabs extend back to, and long before, Israel's inception as a nation. For those who have a Facebook account StandWithUs has a 1947 incident captured on camera of an Arab man stabbing a Jewish journalist. The writer observes:
"...Terrorism, the terror that we saw today, is the product of the indoctrination of hate. A hate that teaches children that it's heroic to murder Jews."
I agree. In recent times tensions between the Palestinians and Israel have been fomented by several dynamics:
1) Muslim leaders and clerics. One Gaza cleric recently admonished young Palestinians:
“We don’t want just a single stabber. Oh young men of the West Bank: Attack in threes and fours. Some should restrain the victim, while others attack him with axes and butcher knives...Do not fear what will be said about you. Oh men of the West Bank, next time, attack in a group of three, four, or five. Attack them in groups. Cut them into body parts..." (Emphasis mine)
Inciting blood lust in young men is an ideal recipe because it works. Extremist Islamist clerics groom young men to violence for Islam. We see this in those who travel from all over the world to join ISIS. We've seen it in the recent European refugee conflicts, which almost exclusively involve younger men. Lt. Col. Ralph Peters has commented on this phenomenon before. A transcript of his talk is available HERE.
So called moderate Abbas is no different. On Sep 16 during a PA television broadcast he declared:
“Al-Aksa Mosque is ours. They [the Jews] have no right to desecrate it with their filthy feet. We won’t allow them to do so and we will do everything in our power to defend Jerusalem. We bless every drop of blood spilled for Jerusalem. This is clean and pure blood, blood that was spilled for God. It is Allah’s will that every martyr will go to heaven and every wounded [terrorist] will receive God’s reward.”
Then there's moderate Jordan. In context to the recent temple mount incidents; the Jordanian House of Representatives has accused Israel of "continued aggression against the Palestinian people, land, and holy sites as a ‘state terrorism’ conducted before the eyes of the entire world." Yet it is the Jews who are routinely harassed whenever they approach the Temple Mount area.
2) A biased or indifferent media generally ignores the above. It tends to blame Israel for creating an atmosphere which invites bad behavior. The Palestinians are presented as marginalized. Israelis are the oppressors. A lot more may be said here but I'll leave it to readers to research further at their leisure. CAMERA is a great place to start.
3) The church. This is the one I find most egregious. There are professing Christian leaders who deny a future biblical redemption of national Israel, and rights to the land. They routinely misrepresent the conflict, thereby inciting activism against Israel and inflaming tensions.
Several Christian organizations have been active in this process: the organizers of Christ at the Checkpoint Conferences; Sabeel; PCUSA (Boycott Divest Sanction activism); the Palestinian Israel Ecumenical Network etc.
Gary Burge's Huffington Post article on the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict (But They Use Human Shields!) reached a significant audience. It would take another article to fully parse his commentary. What most Huff Post readers may not realize is that Burge is a long-time anti-Israel activist. His book (Whose Land? Whose Promise?) reveals these inclinations.
He writes: "No country wants a UN webpage like this describing its conduct." Then he links to a UN webpage with the headline "Occupied Palestinian Territory." Thus Burge directs his readers to an organization notorious for its anti-Israel bias, while insinuating Israel occupies stolen land.
Burge's article held Israel to impossibly high moral standards, contrary to Hamas. While he acknowledges that Israel warned Gazans of the bombing raids he claims they had nowhere to escape to. Anyone who has looked at a map of Gaza would know this to be untrue.
In chastising Israel's bombing of civilian areas (where rockets were being deployed) he omitted the fact that Hamas kept its own people in place at gun point. He even admits that Hamas is baiting Israel. But he prefers to emphasize Israel's crossing of an ethical line.
The irony is that failing to hold Hamas (or other Islamist extremists) to full account encourages the terrorist acts we are seeing - as does unfairly demonizing Israel. An "ethical line" has already been crossed by this sort of prejudiced commentary.
We could spend a whole day identifying a bunch of causes and excuses for the current attacks on Jews. But don't be misled into thinking that it is all about stolen land. History is against that myth. It is all about hatred...and the devil is in the details.
Although it isn't popular (and even considered odd) to look to the Bible for answers - I heartily agree with Charles Lee Feinberg who wrote on The Cause of Anti-Semitism:
"What, then, is the true and only cause? In a word, it is Satan. The solution is to be found in Revelation 12. Satan hates the nation through whom has come so much blessing to the world, especially the Savior. First, the dragon is incensed against the child of the woman (Jesus Christ), then he goes to make war with the remnant of her seed, Israel. Moreover, when Satan is angry against Israel, it always culminates in defiance against the Lord Jesus Christ. The two are inseparable."
We know this hatred won't last because God has revealed His plans for Israel.
Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, 'Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." Zechariah 8:23
About Alf Cengia
Last week: Are We Paying Attention?
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