By Graham Keelan
War is a human tragedy. It always is. The sight of pulverized cities – the labours of past generations laid waste – limbless corpses, mutilated bodies of dead children. These assail our senses and overload our emotional ability to moralise. And usually it is the realization of what we are doing to our children that compels us to pull back from the brink, to seek a solution, to say “Never again!” And yet, sadly, as we know, that cycle is never really broken. It has been in perpetual motion ever since Cain first rose up to kill his brother. And vengeance it seems is always returned seven-fold. Those of us who follow Yeshua must be careful in our desire to see justice done, righteousness upheld, and holiness restored to the earth that we don’t succumb to the bitterness and hatred which cycles around the globe in a jet-stream. The injunction from our Saviour is clear: We must love our enemies. This is not easy. However, this does not mean that we must love to the exclusion of our own existence. Not even God does that. Thus the principle of self-defense is also upheld by our Saviour, for those sent out as sheep amongst wolves to take a sword. Well the wolves are gathering around the sheep pen and as the Book of Revelation shows us the Great Shepherd of the sheep will make war to defend it.
There is a strange argument about moral equivalency and proportionality being articulated in certain sections of the British media, concerning the military activity of Hamas and the Israeli Defence Force: A sort of tally being kept as if it is something akin to a summer evening cricket match at The Oval. Updating the scoreboard for us every night whilst providing us with a running commentary is none other than the BBC (no surprises there, then!), that self-proclaimed bastion of morality which for decades covered up for its own coterie of past paedophile presenters in order to protect its reputation and very substantial license fee. Hypocrisy follows hard on the heels of moral outrage. I have been listening to the argument unfold from its daily flagship “Newsnight” program and it goes something like this: Because there have been over 1000 Palestinian deaths in Gaza and most of them civilians but only 50 or so Israeli deaths and most of them IDF soldiers then somehow a moral judgement needs to be declared. Thus words like “slaughter” and “massacre” are thrown around with abandon. No prizes for guessing who they say is committing the atrocities. And yet this sort of moral perversion is commonplace in a secular society which fronts an “end justifies the means” philosophy, one which now pervades Western civilization. At the time of writing over 2,500 rockets have been fired into Israel. Thus if we were to merely assess this war on rocket strikes then Hamas would probably still be leading the scoreboard. But hundreds of rockets had come from across the Strip before Israel ever retaliated with one of its own, and yet because only a few Israeli citizens have been killed by this barrage of death from the sky then it isn’t so bad for them. Thus the Israelis are condemned for having a successful missile defense umbrella. But the Iron Dome doesn’t eliminate the threat entirely and in fact the vast number of projectiles means that most of the Hamas rockets make it through only to land in open space. But war is not a cricket match.
Yeshua teaches us that moral judgment is to be exercised upon the motive of the heart. Thus, if you have lusted in your heart then you stand guilty of having already committed the act. And as we have seen, Hamas has not limited its lust to just firing their rockets “in their hearts”. The intention and hope of the people who fire these rockets is that they will cause as many civilian deaths as possible because they do not believe Israel has the right to exist. Murdering then becomes their justification for the pursuit of Allah’s will. It is interesting that even on the other side of the Palestinian controlled territory, the West Bank, the so-called moderate party, Fatah, has joined forces with Hamas, but President Abbas, although acknowledging the idea of a “ two state solution” refuses to countenance that one of those entities can be Jewish. The woman “Newsnight” presenter on the BBC raised the point that Israeli aggression will only serve to radicalize and fuel the Palestinian hatred towards the Jews. No, dear! That hatred is inculcated from birth and it is a tenet of Jihadist Islamic theology! Just listen to the bile issuing forth from Iran or Syria, or ISIS or any other hate-inspired jihadist, even one from Cardiff, Birmingham or London. There has been a torrent of vitriolic black ink unleashed and a deafening chorus of condemnation raised in the British media directed at Russian complicity in the blitzing of a Malaysian 777 airliner out of the sky by the Kremlin backed Separatists in Eastern Ukraine – and rightly so. I do wonder though what the reaction would be if it was a Hamas rocket which hit an American Airlines or British Airways passenger jet on its final approach over the clear blue skies of Tel Aviv. I risk sounding a cynic here, but something in me says that the usual suspects in the media world would somehow be able to spin it to pin the blame on Israel.
What is even more bizarre is the comparison being made of the Hamas-Israeli conflict with that of the IRA and the British and the three-decade-long bombing campaign of mainland Britain. “We didn’t go and bomb Belfast or Londonderry” it is opined. Well, the IRA was already blowing up Belfast so it would have been self-defeating for the RAF (Royal Air Force) to join in. Besides, the IRA, for the most part, adopted the policy of phoning in a coded warning to the police 15 minutes before they blew up the block. That way civilian casualties could be minimized. This is not the case with Hamas who are indiscriminately firing thousands of rockets into Israel with the sole aim of killing Jewish men, women, and children.
Don’t misunderstand me. This present Gaza war is an unfolding nightly tragedy. It was a tragedy when the Hamas “government” – if it can be called that – began firing the rockets across the border. It was a tragedy that when the representatives of the people of Gaza were given multi-millions of dollars in aid, they spent it not on hospitals, schools, businesses and housing, but rather on building ammunition stores and concrete tunnels. It was a tragedy that when the Gazans were given autonomy over the Strip in 2005 they elected Hamas, an ultra-Islamic jihadist group, as their government, an organization whose raison-d’etre is the destruction of the Jewish State (as explicitly written in their charter). It is a tragedy that a people ruled by an ideology so grotesque are sacrificed by their own leaders in order to just kill ONE Israeli Jew. It now transpires that the tunnel program was more elaborate than anyone suspected – 50 of them – and were planned to be used in a murderous killing spree by Hamas militia on Rosh Hashanah. The Israelis were right to pre-empt this genocidal massacre of their citizens. One newspaper columnist wrote this: “Israel exists only because quite a lot of people hate Jews for being Jews, and that sometimes that hate turns into murder. It is a place where Jews can go when other people want to kill them for being what they are, not for what they do, and when nobody else will take them in. The only honest position a British person can take is absolute defence of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. It must be that, or it cannot serve its grim ultimate purpose as a refuge against hate”
And so in this cruel war of attrition, the never-ending cycle of hatred and blood-letting gathers momentum. When the lull in the storm of fire and death comes – and it will – it is the children who have been saved today, their lives and innocence shattered, the gaping septic wounds of sorrow unhealed, who will pick up the rifles and rockets tomorrow. In the absence of the peace which comes from knowing the Messiah of Israel it is inevitable. War unleashes vengeance. It always does.