Semester two is nearing its halfway point, and you may have noticed that the newest theatre of battle in the Israel-Palestine Conflict is the billboards of Sydney Uni.
Especially with Revue season underway, Eastern Avenue is abuzz of quarrelling propaganda.
And it’s getting violent.
Today, as I was walking down the pedestrian thoroughfare I was stopped by a Palestine-supporter asking me to sign a petition against what she called “the systematic genocide of a nation”.
I didn’t sign the petition, not because I don’t support peace like she claimed.
But because a piece of paper with the signatures of a thousand students in Sydney is going to come to nought in Gaza.
Nevertheless, the impassioned protester took my passive refusal as something far more sinister. She continued to call out to me as I was walking – quickly – away from her, referring to me as a “genocide supporting Jew” (“oh, you classic Jew studying media!”).
I said nothing to this humble protester to lead her to believe I was Jewish. She assumed my semitic heritage by my curly hair – her words, not mine – and proceeded to shout to me that I should seek refuge with my “rabbi friends”. Of course, Jews only congregate with other Jews, right?
But here’s the thing. I’m not Jewish. And curly hair does not presuppose Semiticism!
The unprecedented response from this sweater-wearing, Doc Martin pumping protester is emblematic of the existing binary in the Middle East conflict: if you’re not for Palestine, you must be against Palestine. And if you’re against Palestine, you better have a good reason for supporting Israel – and of course, the only good reason for that would be that you ARE an Israelite.
The reality is though, I’m willing to bet not a lot of people fit into those two binaries. A lot of people are very confused about this whole conflict.
So, let’s have a Biblical look at the conflict.
But first, my disclaimer. There’s a lot of conflicting, contentious issues surrounding this debate – from Christians and non-Christians alike. Though I will make every effort to be Biblical in my approach, I must stress that the following views are personally held by me – Emma Horn – and may not accurately represent the plethora of thoughts held by Student Life as an organisation.
Who are the Jews?
In Deuteronomy 7:6, God calls the Israelites His “treasured people”.
They are chosen to be the line from which the Messiah comes – and this happened as early as Genesis 3:15.
Throughout the Old Testament, there are countless explanations about how the Messiah will come from the house of David who is the line of Judah (for the sake of this argument, Genesis 49:10 and Isaiah 9:7 show this lineage most clearly).
Who are the Palestinian people?
Nowadays, the Palestinian people are comprised mostly of Arab cultures. But they too derived from Abraham.
According to Genesis 25:17, Ishmael died at the age of 137 and from him have come the Islamic states – all those who claim ancestry from Ishmaelites.
Why are the Israelites and Palestinians fighting?
This may well be the most controversial question. It’s also the most important question when trying to understand what’s going on in Gaza today.
To completely trivialise over 50 years of conflict, it’s all about the land.
In Genesis 15:18, God promised the land “from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates” to the descendants of Isaac – the Israelites.
Being that the land is heavily fertile, and since the Ishmaelites also claim lineage to Abraham, therein lies the conflict. Both sides have claim to the land. Both sides have lived in the land. Both sides have originated in the land. Both sides place heavy religious importance on the city of Jerusalem.
And both sides don’t want the other side to have the land.
Will there ever be peace in Gaza?
Probably not, no.
In Zechariah 12:1-6, God spoke through the prophet to warn the Israelites that they would be in constant conflict over Jerusalem.
…The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it… (Zechariah 12)
As Christians, who should we support?
One of my favourite Christian figures, Corrie ten Boom once said “you cannot love God and not love the Jewish people.”
If we love God, we must love what He loves. And He loves the Jewish people.
We must remember that God’s plan is to bless the world (that is, all nations – Palestine included) through the Jewish people. He has already done so by delivering us from our sinfulness through Jesus – the Jew (John 4:22). Salvation came through the Jews.
The prophecy of abundant blessing held in Isaiah 27:6 has an eternal perspective. It has not come yet.
Should I turn a blind-eye to the conflict?
Of course not. We are not called to be ignorant of what’s happening in the world.
We need to be Biblically evaluating events as they happen, paying careful attention to Israel.
By no means am I suggesting that we should blindly support Israel and pretend not to see the atrocities committed by the Jewish people.
It’s not a matter of Palestine is evil, Israel is good. People are evil, regardless of their nationality. Humans are fatally flawed and when we walk away from God, we commit actions out of His will.
The Jewish people have turned away from God. They have denied Jesus as their Messiah and in so doing they have grieved the Holy Spirit enormously.
But so has every other nation on the planet. We’re all guilty of rebelling against God.
The difference is, in Genesis 12:3, God makes a promise to never remove His protection from the Jewish people. And God never breaks His promise. The Jews have Divine protection, regardless of their rebellion.
So what do I do now?
You pray for the Jewish people to realise the Messiah has come for them. You pray for the salvation of the Palestinian people. You pray for the protection of all people – Israeli and Palestinian, Christian, Muslim or otherwise.
You pray for the redemption of all nations.
You pray and you keep praying.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you!” (Psalm 122:6)