Saturday, January 10, 2009

In the Name of the Father

Not surprisingly, Bill Moyers manages to distill the essence of the latest war in the Middle East. See Bill Moyers Journal.

In Moyers' latest essay on the violence in Gaza between the Israelis and Palestinians, he opines:

They are the casualties and victims of Israel's decision to silence the rockets from Hamas terrorists by waging war on an entire population. Yes, every nation has the right to defend its people. Israel is no exception, all the more so because Hamas would like to see every Jew in Israel dead.

But brute force can turn self-defense into state terrorism. It's what the U.S. did in Vietnam, with B-52s and napalm, and again in Iraq, with shock and awe. By killing indiscriminately - the elderly, kids, entire families by destroying schools and hospitals — Israel did exactly what terrorists do and exactly what Hamas wanted. It spilled the blood that turns the wheel of retribution.

Hardly had Israeli tank fire killed and injured scores at a UN school in Gaza than a senior Hamas leader went on television to announce, "The Zionists have legitimized the killing of their children by killing our children." Already attacks on Jews in Europe are escalating — a burning car crashes into a synagogue in Southern France, a fiery object is hurled through a window in Sweden, venomous anti-Semitic graffiti appears across the continent, and arsonists strike in London.

What we are seeing in Gaza is the latest battle in the oldest family quarrel on record. Open your Bible: the sons of the patriarch Abraham become Arab and Jew. Go to the Book of Deuteronomy. When the ancient Israelites entered Canaan their leaders urged violence against its inhabitants. The very Moses who had brought down the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" now proclaimed, "You must destroy completely all the places where the nations have served their gods. You must tear down their altars, smash their pillars, cut down their sacred poles, set fire to the carved images of their gods, and wipe out their name from that place."

So God-soaked violence became genetically coded. A radical stream of Islam now seeks to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth. Israel misses no opportunity to humiliate the Palestinians with checkpoints, concrete walls, routine insults, and the onslaught in Gaza. As if boasting of their might, Israel defense forces even put up video of the explosions on YouTube for all the world to see. A Norwegian doctor there tells CBS, "It's like Dante's Inferno. They are bombing one and a half million people in a cage."

Religion -- the basis for most of the wars that have confronted man through the ages. Sometimes, it almost seems as though it is the root of all evil. Although the truth of the matter is that while religion may be the justification for many of the everlasting wars that man has waged through the centuries, in reality it is religious belief along with a healthy dose of tribal supremacy and vengeance. See Norm Jenson of OneGoodMove for a good discussion of Is Religion The Root of All Evil?.

I have written recently about my issues with Israel and Hamas. Never Again or Yet Again?. Ultimately, my objection to Israel's aggressive tactics is premised upon my basic belief in non-violence as the means to peace. In effect, I believe that "war is not the answer," as the Quakers are fond of saying.

Yet, what is the answer? As Moyers observes:
We are in a terrible bind — Israel, the Palestinians, the United States. Each greases the cycle of violence, as one man's terrorism becomes another's resistance to oppression. Is it possible to turn this mindless tragedy toward peace?

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