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Gaza: moral analogies and theological perspectives

William Crawley | 13:18 UK time, Saturday, 10 January 2009

I presented Talk Back this week and we gave significant coverage to the Israeli military offensive in Gaza. We debated the arguments deployed by both Israel and Hamas, reported on the growing humanitarian crisis in that tiny strip of land, and examined the options facing the international community. We also considered the argument, presented by quite a few callers, that Gaza's experience is analogous to the experience of the Jews during the European Holocaust. Inevitably, some callers wondered what lessons -- and which analogies -- emerged from the experience of Northern Ireland. Patrick Corrigan, over at his Amnesty blog, considers that last point. He writes:

"What is clear from Northern Ireland's recent history is that grave human rights violations creates a cycle of injustice not justice, insecurity not security, and it is only when parties to conflict are willing to place human rights and equality of treatment at the heart of a peace and security deal that longer-term solutions for all can be secured."

On tomorrow's Sunday Sequence, we'll be reporting from today's big march and rally for peace in Gaza, and examining the role that's played by theology in this current debate. How does someone's theological perspective -- on, for example, eschatology -- shape their sympathies in respect of the contemporary middle east crisis?


  • Comment number 1.

    This is the first time I’ve posted on your blog, though I’ve read with interest over several months. I think the question of one’s eschatology is spot on regarding outlooks on the Middle East. It’s clear that the US’s pathetic refusal to condemn the Israeli bombardments in Gaza is shaped by, in part, a Dispensational understanding of end-times. This conveniently satisfies the Bible-belt’s understanding of the restoration of the nation state of Israel, as well getting the large Jewish vote.

  • Comment number 2.

    Periscope, your lack of participation to date has not left the point of view of Jew hating anti-semitism and America bashing unvoiced. Take my word for it, there are plenty who have expressed your point of view here and in many other places. This is one of the reasons why I personally reject Europe.

  • Comment number 3.


    Thanks for the welcome and insight. I hope that you're not implying that I am:
    a) a Jew hater / anit-semitic
    b) an America basher

  • Comment number 4.

    periscope, I am not implying that you are a) a jew hater/ anti semite or b) an America basher. I'm stating it outright. Your first posting leaves no room for doubt.

  • Comment number 5.

    To help you put the main problem of the Middle East in perspective, let me draw you a parallel:
    What if the Russians decided to “give” the United States to the Gypsy tribes of Eastern Europe as a homeland because they are homeless and have been persecuted throughout history, even to the point of attempted extermination by Hitler. Then, the Russians arm the Gypsies and aid them in terrorizing the U.S. population with death squads- armed gangs that slaughter the inhabitants of whole towns. The American people become so frightened they flee their homes in search of safety. In such a way, these death squads ethnically cleanse whole areas of the United States, paving the way for waves upon waves of Gypsies to enter the U.S. and take over the land (supported by Russian money and weapons). The frightened people who fled the killing are, then, either taken in by Canada and Mexico as second class citizens with limited rights, or have been crammed together in refugee camps in the southern U.S. and New York.
    Russia and China then “decide” that the U.S. should be divided: with the southern U.S. and New York belonging to the Americans and the rest of the country belonging to the Gypsies. Then, they use their influence within the United Nations to pass a resolution dividing the United States.
    What do you think the American people would do? What do you think any honorable, freedom loving people would do?
    Naturally, the dispossessed Americans would fight the Gypsies to get back their land. However, the Gypsies are so heavily supported by the Russians economically and militarily that the Americans are no match for the Gypsy-Russian war machine. Several years later, though, Canada and Mexico attempt to help their American neighbors expel the Gypsies from American soil, only to have the Russians provide massive support that turns events in favor of the Gypsies. The gypsies then take over all of the southern U.S. and New York, despite U.N. resolutions calling for their return to the previously accepted borders. They build more and more Gypsy settlements, cramming the Americans into progressively smaller and smaller areas.
    The Gypsy State, in the meantime, has been receiving uninterrupted massive economic aid from Russia; aid without which the Gypsy State could not survive. The Gypsies claim to establish a democracy. Only Gypsies, however, are afforded full rights of citizenship. Furthermore, Americans are not allowed to return to their homes; and those who never left are routinely expelled from their homes so new Gypsy settlers can take their place. Widespread bulldozing of other American homes, as well as farms, is carried out to make room for new settlements for more Gypsy newcomers. And the exiled Americans are still not allowed back to their land. The Russians, in the meantime, are providing massive economic aid to import more and more Gypsies and establish an artificially created civil society that could not stand on its own if the Russian money stopped pouring in. And all this time the Americans are still crammed in refugee camps.
    The Gypsies, although enjoying the full fruits of a “prosperous”, “democratic” state, deny the Americans basic rights like freedom of movement. Americans have to contend with detours and blockades and restricted access to roads in order to keep them away from the Gypsy cities and heavily fortified settlements. Critically ill American patients are routinely delayed or denied passage to reach hospitals. Pregnant American women denied passage have been known to give birth at the Gypsy checkpoints. Americans are routinely arrested on the flimsiest of charges with no legal checks against abuse. Gypsy settlers are protected by the military and are allowed to carry weapons which they may use according to their own discretion against the Americans. The military is instructed to shoot to kill any American fighting a settler. However even if a Gypsy settler is on a shooting rampage against Americans, the military is instructed to wait until he/she stops shooting, then approach the settler. Under no circumstance is the military allowed to harm the Gypsy. Gypsies attacking churches or murdering worshipers in the churches are also not to be harmed- the military must wait until the rampage is over and they are able to approach the Gypsies without harming them. One of the founders of the Gypsy state has even publicly stated that “The only good American is a dead American.”
    The economic welfare of the Americans, furthermore, is naturally made to intertwine with that of the Gypsies. The Americans are totally dependent on the Gypsies for their livelihood; and have become the cheap labor in their own country. Even the water resources are diverted by the Gypsies so that they receive 90% of the water while the Americans, who are a much larger group, only receive 10%. Most Americans are reduced to living below the poverty line while the Gypsies are supported by massive influx of Russian money (some estimate $15 million daily- $4.5 billion / year ).
    Forty- five years after the start of the Gypsy occupation, a group of Americans, which had previously resisted the occupation, decide to recognize the right of the Gypsy State to exist. The Russians, Gypsies, and Chinese are delighted and start touting this group as the “legitimate” representative of the American people and give it political and financial backing, despite its obvious widespread corruption. Other Americans, on the other hand, refuse to recognize the right of the Gypsy state to exist on their lands, and continue their struggle against occupation.
    This American resistance movement, initially, has no weapons to fight the Gypsy occupation; so they just use rocks. And remember, weapons from the military arsenal of the Russian military are readily available to the Gypsies- even before they become available to the Russians themselves. American men, women, and children throw rocks at heavily armed and shielded Gypsy soldiers, who respond with live bullets. The Gypsy soldiers even deliberately target and kill American children.*
    Eventually, the Americans are able to buy weapons from Gypsy arms dealers or obtain them from individual supporters from Canada and Europe. The American resistance fighters are, thus, able to more effectively retaliate against the Gypsies when the Gypsies kill Americans. The American Resistance makes it very clear to the Gypsies:

    “If you kill our civilians, we will kill yours.”
    “Stop killing our people, and we will stop killing yours.”
    “You will only be safe- when we are safe.”
    “End the occupation of our lands- that is the only road to a lasting peace in North America.”

    Instead of heeding the calls of the American Resistance, the Gypsies continue with the bloodshed, and their racist, apartheid policies. The international community witnesses American children and infants being killed by the Gypsy military- live on television. The free world is outraged but nothing is done to stop the Gypsies. Out of desperation, American resistance fighters start sacrificing themselves and conduct suicide attacks against Gypsy targets because that is the only way they can effectively fight back against Gypsy murder of Americans. Eventually, the American Resistance is able to develop primitive home-made rockets which they fire at Gypsy targets. The rockets are not very effective militarily- only 20 Gypsies are killed by rockets in 8 years. They are no match for the Russian F-15 missiles fired by the Gypsies into heavily crowded American neighborhoods- killing tens of American civilians with each missile. During the upcoming 8 years two ceasefires are agreed upon between the American resistance and Gypsies, only to be broken by the Gypsies. The Americans even document the abuses of the Gypsy military which occur during “ceasefires”.
    The Gypsies, in the meantime, continue the killing of Americans. To ensure Americans cannot fight back, the Gypsies clamp down on them with draconian measures and further oppression. A wall is constructed to isolate the Southern U.S. from the main country, incorporating a significant portion of the South into “The Gypsy State”. The wall destroys many neighborhoods and farms, and separates American families. Then, as a prelude to a clampdown on New York, the Gypsy settlers in New York are relocated to new homes elsewhere in the country and given stipends to aid them in the relocation (the tab is picked up by Russia). Then the Gypsies establish a blockade of New York from the land, air, and sea. No food, drink, or medical supplies can enter, and NO ONE CAN EXIT. Even when aid convoys from NGOs try to enter, they are turned back. Even the United Nations UNRWA stores become depleted- and they are not allowed to restock. United Nations officials began warning of a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions.
    A ceasefire is then agreed upon between the American Resistance and the Gypsies. The ceasefire entails lifting of the siege of New York in return for a halt to the firing of American “rockets”. The rockets stopped but the GYPSIES NEVER LIFTED THE SIEGE. As such the Gypsies broke the ceasefire.
    Thus the American people- children, women, the elderly, AND men- faced death from hunger and disease while the world watched. The only superpower, Russia, called the siege of New York “self-defense” on the part of the Gypsies. Thus, it was up to the New Yorkers to do what they could to fight for their basic survival, yes actual survival. The American Resistance in New York waited until the ceasefire period expired, then began launching rockets once more.


    Please turn on Al-Jazeera News Channel to see how the Gypsies responded.

    Naturally by now you’ve drawn the parallels of the preceding narrative. If you cannot accept the Gypsy State on American soil, how can you expect the Palestinians to accept Israel’s right to exist?
    And even if you could somehow justify to yourself giving more than half of the United States to a foreign group of people, could you do so knowing the death and destruction they have brought upon the American people, and continue to do so?

    In 15 days: 854 Americans killed (at least 230 children, 93 women, 60 elderly)
    3681 Americans injured (approximately 50% children and women)

    In response to: 20 Gypsy deaths from rockets in the past 8 years.

    If you are thinking to yourself, the American Resistance still does not have a right to target Gypsy civilians, let us not forget how many thousand innocent Afghani civilians were killed in retaliation for the deaths in the World Trade Center.

    * If you think the scenario of an occupying army deliberately seeking children to kill is farfetched or untrue, please just Google the words “Israel military children” and you will have immediate access to documented cases.

  • Comment number 6.

    asthma70, bad analogy. First of all, it rests on the assumption that the Jews have no legitimate claim to the land. That's false. But I heard an entirely different story by a Lebanese Maronite Christian many years ago I'd never heard before. His family who was there claim many Arabs sold their homes and land to Israelis in 1948 expecting to get it back for nothing when the Arab armies conquered Israel. Then when the Arab armies lost, they claimed the land was stolen from them. If what you said is true, then there wouldn't be one million Arab citizens of Israel who enjoy every right all other Israeli citizens do including the right to vote and run for and hold public office. What I heard is given credence by the fact that it is well known that if a Palestinian sells his land to Jews, other Palestinians will assassinate him.

  • Comment number 7.

    Forgive me if I'm being naive, but I take it you're currently living in the US? Can i respectfully suggest that it is precisely your kind of comment (#4) that acts as a catalyst to "America bashing" across the world.
    If you'd like to offer a reasonable opinion on the issue of eschatology/ American political misuse of theology to please voters etc., I'd be happy to discuss.
    As a Christian who lived in the US for several years, I can sincerely say I love the place, and I love the people. And for obvious reasons, I am certainly not anti-Jewish!

  • Comment number 8.

    And in case you go there Marcus, please don't suggest I'd refer to Jews as "Christ-killers". Historically, and sadly, I concede that's what some Christians have done. Paradoxically (and perhaps ironically) Christians are called to follow in Jesus' footsteps (Mark 8).

  • Comment number 9.


    Forgive me if I'm being naive, but I take it you're currently living in the US? Can i respectfully suggest that it is precisely your kind of comment (#4) that acts as a catalyst to "America bashing" across the world."

    You can suggest anything you like but I don't buy it. All most people in Europe have to do is turn on their radios and TV sets and they don't have to even watch al Jazeera. They'll get more than their fill of incitement to America bashing from BBC. I lived in France for 2 years. That was around 35 years ago. I saw anti semitism first hand for the only time in my life there. I also saw America bashing. In a child's book in a supermarket, I saw drawn pictures of Klu Klux Klan sheeted people. They start to incite them at an early age there.

    People all over the world use their religion to justify anything they want to do. Europeans used it to justify slavery, despotism (devine right of kings) colonialism, and every other dogma they now claim to disavow. Why should Americans be any different? Now Europeans jam their morality down our throats trying to justify why Israel should leave itself vulnerable to annihilation in the face of enemies sworn to destroy it. Reason enough to reject Europe as a place to be taken seriously.

    BTW, I was born and spent most of my life in the USA. I've lived in around 5 states, been in around 30, and been to around 40 foreign countries. I don't feel in any way similar towards other parts of the world as I do about Europe...East and South Asia for example. For me, to know Europe and its history is to detest it. I'll never go back there for any conceivable reason.

  • Comment number 10.


    Welcome to W&T and I'm glad you posted. I see you've already met our resident EU-basher and ardent defender of American foreign policy, Marcus. As one Americanophile to another, I'm sure you'll agree with me that not all lovers of this great land agree with him. Anyway, I'll let you get on with it. :-)

    Welcome again.

  • Comment number 11.

    Pericope - welcome and a request - keep the posts shorter - #4 was just too long to read. I stopped after you began an analogy of giving US land to gypsies which makes no sense. Israel was a Jewish land for several thousand years before they were driven out by Romans and Arabs - Palestinians are the squatters who moved in.

    And as for the large Jewish vote in the US - that would be the 1.7%? That's a huge block, really worth formulating your foreign policy arround attracting that level of support.

  • Comment number 12.


    While I agree, there are commenters who get WAY longer than Mr. Pericope here. I try to stay concise myself, unless I get into the throes of a debate which necessitates a bunch of lengthy argument and response and such.

  • Comment number 13.

    " :-)

  • Comment number 14.

    Smasher and John,
    Thanks for the welcome. I don't want to get caught in the cross-fire of who says what - but just to note, Smasher, I'm not responsible for the long posting you refer to. That honour belongs to asmaa70.

  • Comment number 15.

    Pericope - sorry about that. Serves me night for posting late at night - but as a former boss once said to me after accusing me in the wrong - the advice holds good.


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