Thursday, January 08, 2009

Three Things Puzzle Me, Yea, Four Perplex Me

1 – What to make of the whole Gaza Strip thing. I was COMPLETELY put off yesterday by some vehemently (and naïve) pro-Israel posts (yes, that’s plural) made on a respected ministry’s blog that otherwise tends to comment on relationships, etc. (in fact, I unsubscribed after them because I hadn’t been reading the other posts much because of waning time/interest). I’m baffled that somebody who’s otherwise pretty well-educated could forget that it’s Just. Not. That. Simple. (Though, yes, there are reasons to defend Israel.)

On the other hand, I’ve gotten a handful of emails from very pro-Palestine/Hamas (Christian) groups to sign such-and-such petition or that it’s all _____________’s fault. They're more nuanced, but I'm still uncomfortable with their position for some reason.

Honestly, I don’t know what to make of it -- there's no easy answer and there's no "right" position, but I think an email I got from the group Musalaha (their website’s under construction, but here’s a link to the Wikipedia entry about them) says it best:

To both Israelis and Palestinians, the current conflict in Gaza has brought nothing but pain and suffering. It has also caused friction among some believers as they choose to pledge sole allegiance to their own people group. Some are even expressing an unabashed hatred for the other side through articles, e-mails and graphic content on Facebook.

From the Israeli point of view they pulled out of the Gaza Strip in the name of peace and an Islamic regime took over. Israel’s justification for going to war was to protect its citizens against Hamas launching rockets on the communities in the Negev. Soldiers continue to mobilize along the Gaza border as they prepare to defend their people and country against terror. They claim that others would have acted more quickly and aggressively. Their reasoning is that it is necessary to attack now before Hamas has longer-range missiles.

The Palestinians claim that though Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2006, the army is still controlling the borders making it the biggest open-air prison in the world. In the last 18-months, 1.5 million Palestinians have been under siege and were prevented from receiving sufficient water, medical aid and food supply. For the Palestinians, Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza was just an excuse to expand their control in the West Bank and build further settlements. The Palestinians also believe they have a right to self-defense. For them, the Israeli reaction is disproportionate. The number of Israelis killed cannot be compared to the hundreds of Palestinians killed.

Each player in the conflict places the full responsibility of the cycle of violence on the other side. There is a general unwillingness to enter into peace talks on ideological or political grounds. For example, Israel will say Hamas is an ideological religious organization that doesn’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Palestinians, on the other hand, say the Palestinian Authority has entered into concessions and nothing substantial has evolved; all that increased were settlements and checkpoints.

So, what is our role as believers in this situation? How can we be a model of Messiah as we move forward in the reconciliation process? Are we too busy challenging the moral and ethical position of the other side that we are unwilling to take responsibility? Because our societies have chosen war and violence, there is a great need for reconciliation. We can accomplish this through taking on a priestly role of intercessor and prophetic role of speaking the truth...

2 – How people can be ridiculously mean (like junior high girl mean) on internet forums and blog comments and consider themselves self-respecting, Gospel-proclaiming pastors or other Christians. I read a very even-handed blog post today and there was just this nasty, immature commenter who made silly, childish, RUDE-ASS comments (with poor typing/spelling) to every person who was trying to ask a genuine question or make a real point. Amazingly enough, he used his real name and linked to his church’s website…. I expected at least to see someone who was fresh out of seminary (or pre-school), but he looked like a late-middle-aged guy (unless he's a victim of identity theft).

I wonder if a lot of people are going to have a lot less jewels in their crowns than they anticipate, just because of how they behave themselves (or not) online.

3 – The very nice-looking, middle-aged woman driving a teal minivan today whose sole bumper sticker reads:
Jane Fonda
American Traitor

Seriously? I bet she wonders why she doesn't have any "My child is an honor student at __________ Middle School" stickers to post next to it.

4 – The “85 Year Old Vet” … an old man who has been sitting at the corner of 24th St. and King Ave in Billings for at least the past three years. His sign says that he’s trying to get back to Oklahoma. What I don’t get is that rumor has it that is a very lucrative corner to sit at and ask for money (and I assume that has to be at least a little bit true since he’s still there). But I NEVER see people giving him money … how is it that he makes all his money?

These things are apparently too great for me to understand.

In better news, we're having an In-Law-Birthday-Extravaganza tonight -- a b-day dinner for Pop-in-Law, Mom-in-Law and Sister-in-Law who all will be out of town for their birthdays this month! I'm particularly excited about sis-in-law's gift ... maybe I'll post a picture or two after it's "revealable," although it'll take quite a bit of explaining. Back to things my mind more or less understands.


Julie said...

Molly - here's a funny story about the 85 year old vet. We have som friends that were driving to see parents in OK this past summer so when they were stopped at that red light she opened her window and said "hey, we're headed to Oklahoma right now. Can we give you a ride? We won't even charge you!"

He was so astonished he couldn't reply. He doesn't really want to go but I already knew that.

Melodee said...

I'm perplexed by the Gaza situation right now too; it's been brought "nearer" to me because of the grief and anger of a good Palestinian friend of mine. His amazed and grateful reaction when I asked him if his family was safe makes me suspect he's heard his share of Christians spewing vehement pro-Israel sentiments without qualification. Sigh.