Shocking attack on Anglican owned hospital in Gaza
“I don’t believe in the God you don’t believe in either”
The explosion on Tuesday at the al-Ahli al-Arabi hospital, also known as the Baptist hospital, which killed hundreds of already traumatized civilians must be investigated as a war crime. While Israel claims, as it has in similar circumstance in the past, that Hamas was responsible through a misfunctioning rocket, there is no evidence that this is the case. It is almost certainly the result of an Israeli strike, intended or not.
I want to respond to this outrage through the words of a weeping Israeli citizen who lost his child in the brutal Hamas attack on a kibbutz “I am sorry, I can no longer believe in God anymore”.
This is the hub of the matter. While this is not in the traditional sense a religious conflict, the facts of the matter are that when an illegal settler is asked by what authority he dares to push Palestinians off their land and resume it for himself, he holds up a Bible and says: “this is the authority”.
There would be no conflict if the illegal assumption of Palestinian land, property and rights was not occurring.
There would be no conflict if Gaza was not permanently and crushingly blockaded.
There would be no conflict if the most right-wing government in Israel’s history was not in provocative and suppressive power.
There would be no conflict if the promise of the Oslo agreement of Palestinian nationhood on 22 percent of original Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital had been delivered within the promised five-year time frame.
There would be no conflict if the UN sponsored partition of Palestine on a roughly 50/50 percentage basis was enforced in the years following 1945.
There would be no conflict if the conservative/religious right which dominates American politics did not back Israel on the basis that God gave Israel all the land and that Jesus will return when they control it all from the river to the sea.
Hamas’ attack on October 7 was barbaric and must be unconditionally condemned. But it is simply untrue that it was without provocation.
I weep equally for Jews and Palestinians who have lost the lives of their loved ones. I support entirely the kibbutz citizen who poured out his disbelief. I absolutely do not believe in the God you no longer believe in.
Let us assume for a moment there is God, I fervently believe this to be the case. This God must surely behave consistently and equally, not simply with all humans, but with the whole created order. If any have a particular place, it can only be in service of the order that this God intends for the whole created order. It is simply not credible to believe that one group of people is given divine right to a piece of land that allows them through acts of apartheid, even genocide, to exclude others.
The Bible is reasonably clear about the order that God intends. Justice, mercy, righteousness, humility, hospitality, care of the vulnerable, treating the stranger in your midst as one of your own, are all clearly set out, not simply in the New Testament, but throughout the writings of the Old Testament prophets. To paraphrase Amos: “I hate I despise your religious practice, but let justice roll down like a river and righteousness like an everlasting stream”. Or Micah: “What does the lord your God require of you, but to do justice love mercy and walk humbly with your God”.
Zionism, Israeli government policy, is a political movement, but it is a political movement that relies on a quasi-religious historical assumption. Zionism is not the same as Judaism. The world at large has been immensely blessed by Judaism and by Jewish people. Jewish people have, and do, push well above their weight in many fields of human endeavour, including humanitarian fields.
Zionism and Zionistic propositions do not represent Judaism. I am proud that Judaism lies at the very foundation of Christianity. But I abhor activity in the name of religion which brings pain and suffering through injustice and oppression.
Will this article be called antisemitic – of course it will. Should it be? Of course not. I hope with some humility this article is being written and read in the spirit of the prophets we Christians and Jews share, again paraphrasing “I care nothing for any of your religions, but let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an everlasting stream”.