Christian leaders speak out on Gaza

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Update: The ENS release on the Presiding Bishop's remarks is now out and is here.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori* Culture-WatchViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

29 Comments
Posted December 29, 2008 at 12:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Steven in Falls Church wrote:

Ok, I see the Pope—he’s Christian.  But the headline mentions leaders.  Where is the other Christian leader?

December 29, 2:15 pm | [comment link]
2. palagious wrote:

I must have missed KJS’s comments on the indiscriminate Hamas rocket attacks prior to this action by Israel.

December 29, 2:16 pm | [comment link]
3. William P. Sulik wrote:

It’s too bad that they waited until Israel was forced to respond before finally condemning the rocket and mortar attacks which have been a daily occurrence for over two years now.

December 29, 2:19 pm | [comment link]
4. Br. Michael wrote:

3, but it’s what they always do.

December 29, 2:23 pm | [comment link]
5. Jeffersonian wrote:

Maybe Kate needs to have a squint at Hamas’ Charter before she spouts off about getting everyone around a negotiating table:

The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it.

- Article 11

(Peace) initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement…(T)he Islamic Resistance Movement, which is aware of the [prospective] parties to this conference, and of their past and present positions towards the problems of the Muslims, does not believe that those conferences are capable of responding to demands, or of restoring rights or doing justice to the oppressed… There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. The initiatives, proposals and International Conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility.

- Article 13

The lunacy doesn’t end there…the document is filled with violent, unhinged prescriptions, conspiracy theories and extremist demands.  Palestinians have elected a gang of death-worshipping madmen, who are carrying out their well-publicized plan.  Does Schori even have the slightest idea of what she’s saying?

December 29, 2:50 pm | [comment link]
6. drjoan wrote:

And what would Obama’s role be in the talks?  He is not even a senator at this point!  Or would the Presiding Bishop simply wait until he is President?
And yes, why was no one complaining when Hamas was lobbing those initial rockets?

December 29, 2:54 pm | [comment link]
7. Chazaq wrote:

call a halt to this wholly disproportionate escalation of violence

I agree with KJS.  The Israeli response has been disproportionate.  From January through November 2008, over 2500 rockets and mortar bombs fired from the Gaza Strip have struck southern Israel.  A proportionate response would be for the Israeli Air Force to spend the next 11 months pounding the Gaza Strip with 227 rockets and bombs per month.  Would THAT be proportionate enough for you, Kate?

December 29, 3:03 pm | [comment link]
8. David+ wrote:

What few are recalling is that the people of Gaza overwhelmingly voted for Hamas leadership knowing full well Hamas is determined to destroy Israel rather than live in peace with Israel.  There are few “innocent civilians” in Gaza - only those that voted for peace in the first place. They can not now have it both ways!

December 29, 3:15 pm | [comment link]
9. Phil wrote:

Episcopalians in Jerusalem?

December 29, 3:33 pm | [comment link]
10. Billy wrote:

I agree that this appears to be one of those situations when the little brother keeps picking at the big brother until the big brother has had enough and finally knocks the crap out of little brother, only to get in trouble with the parents for his disproportionate act of violence, when little brother goes running to them, crying.  And apparently this is the game plan of Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in the north.  But seriously, folks, do you expect our leader or any Christian leader to say anything other than to stop the violence - how could they?  Can you really imagine the leader of any Christian church releasing a statement that the Palestinians are getting what they deserve, and maybe they should think twice before lobbing more rockets into Israel next time.  All Xn leaders must deplore violence and the killing of innocent persons, as should all of us on this blog.  As much as I disagree with +KJS most of the time, her statement here is what she must say as Presiding Bishop and criticism of her for it is unwarranted.  And it seems to me, that we as Xns should be saying the same thing right now - not that the Palestinians are getting what they deserve or that Israel is using disproportionate force.  We need to regain our Christian heritage of Christ’s love for all of humanity, even in our blog comments.

December 29, 4:36 pm | [comment link]
11. nwlayman wrote:

By all means, let Orthodox Jews who object to Israelis defending themselves go over right now.  No bar to immigration whatever, by definition.  Wear comfortable body armor, be very ready to duck and cover; when you hear the “whoosh” of the Hamas buzz bombs it’s likely too late…Is there a time in the last, oh, 3000 years when it wasn’t so in Jerusalem?  Might that be why there’s a wall around the city and around the “Palestinians”?  The wall didn’t make it into Psalm 51 for nothing.  It was needed then, needed now.  Same reasons then as now.

December 29, 5:27 pm | [comment link]
12. John Wilkins wrote:

Good for Katherine and the Vatican.

I didn’t see anyone praise Hamas.  We could condemn Hamas, but would they listen?  Not really.  Condemnign Hamas is easy.  Even Arabs do it.  Hamas is more affiliated with groups trying to overthrow Syria, Egypt and even the Saudi Royal Family.  And they are even taking weapons from Iran.  Arabs aren’t too happy with them. 

The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem is one of the few places that is encouraging peace.  They build hospitals.  They have schools that aren’t Madrassas.  We should be supporting them, because it is through those relationships where Arab muslims recognize there are better things than hating others.  The Episcopal Diocese is one of the few bridge builders between the Jewish and Muslim communities. 

And Hamas hates them too. 

What is disproportional is the lives lost, not the weapons used. 

What will the consequence be?  Israel basically wants the Palestinians to admit they lost, and justify letting them live in misery.  The militants will gain power in other parts of the Arab world.  Israel, thus, has nothing to fear.  If anything, it helps Israel maintain its belief system that it will forever be at war. 

But it doesn’t need to be that way.

December 29, 6:37 pm | [comment link]
13. Philip Snyder wrote:

Katherine’s and the Vatican’s words (while OK in and of themselves) would hold more weight if they acknowledged that the Hamas attacks instigated this or if they warned Hamas that retaliation was coming if they did not cease their attacks on Israel.

Right now, it comes across as moral equivalence.  israel is just as much to blame as Hamas. 

It seems that violence by Palestinians on Isarelis is only decried when Israel fights to protect its citizens.  All that has to happen for there to be a working peace in the Holy Land is for Palestinians to decide that they love their children more than they hate the Jews.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

December 29, 6:59 pm | [comment link]
14. William P. Sulik wrote:

Billy, you are right - the violence should be condemned.  However, I believe what Israel is doing may be the right way to approach the situation.  There has been a long failure on the part of the non-Israeli community to respond to the Hamas provocation - it appears they were all waiting for Israel to respond.  I recommend Yossi Klein Halevi’s essay “Why Gaza Matters” on TNR here.  A portion:

The Moderate Arab Response: About six months ago, during a meeting with a senior Palestinian official, I was stunned when he asked me matter of factly, “So when are you Israelis going to invade Gaza already?” “You mean you want us to?” I asked. “If you want a peace agreement,” he replied, “you will have no choice.” I never expected that position to be made public. But some Arab leaders—including Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and even the feckless Abbas—have both come as close as any Arab leader can dare go in expressing support for the Israeli attack by condemning Hamas for inviting it.

In the 1990s, there was hope that a “new Middle East” would emerge through peace talks. For Israel, that turned out to be a near-fatal illusion. Now, though, a new Middle East may actually be emerging—not through peace but conflict. And in this new Middle East, moderate Arabs are siding with Israel against Iran and its proxies. That is the reason why several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, condemned Hezbollah rather than Israel in the initial phase of the Second Lebanon War. And it’s the reason why most of the Arab world failed to condemn Israel’s air strike last year against the Syrian nuclear reactor—intended, according to one intelligence report, as an eventual nuclear bomb factory for Iran.

Even Barack Obama called for this action when he visited Sderot last summer as today’s NYT observes.

December 29, 7:10 pm | [comment link]
15. Jeffersonian wrote:

What will the consequence be?  Israel basically wants the Palestinians to admit they lost, and justify letting them live in misery.

For someone who seems so informed on the topic, John, this statement is blinkered.  Gaza underwent an economic boom under Israeli rule, which then collapsed within hours of their departure as “Palestinians” looted and destroyed what the Israelis had bequeathed to them.

What is disproportional is the lives lost, not the weapons used. 

The last I looked, the Israeli assault had killed around 320, all of about 50 of which were Hamas goons.  That’s about an 86% accuracy, unbelievably high given the phyical density of Gaza society and that Hamas is not shy about putting military targets within meters of civilian property.  Hamas is entirely responsible for all loss of life here, on both sides of the conflict.

December 29, 7:41 pm | [comment link]
16. Larry Morse wrote:

Hama deseerves wha it is getting. The People voted for Hamas, knowing full well what that meant. The trouble is that the eye for and eye approach fixes nothing. The only solution for Hamas is the extirpation of Israel - which they favor. The onlly solution for Israel is the extirpation of Hamas and the Palestinians - which they probably favor. Since neither one can eliminate the other, there is no solution here. The only solution I can think of is to make the Israelis and the Palestinians into a single state. It will take a generation to take the heat from beneath the kettle, but in the meantime, all the interior walls can come down. The other thing that needs to be done is to make Jerusalem a UN protectorate, owned by nobody.  Larry

December 30, 12:23 am | [comment link]
17. John Wilkins wrote:

Larry, so, when have you lived in a concentration camp?  Or a place that people say is worth than a south African Bantustan?  Most of the people in Hamas just wanted a job - it was the only thing going.

People voted for Hamas for two reasons:  First, it was pretty clear nothing they would do would change Israel.  Fatah, being corrupt, wouldn’t change.

People voted for Hamas because it was for better government within Gaza. 

don’t you mean “extermination” of Palestinians or “annihilation?”  you’ve learned from the Turks, well.

December 30, 12:39 am | [comment link]
18. John Wilkins wrote:

Sulik has something interesting to say:  the fact is that nobody supports Hamas.  Palestinians support Hamas because its the only game going.  the problem is that economic strangulation helps Hamas. 

Palestinians aren’t different than other human beings confined into cages for 50 years.  Perhaps its time we started treating them like human beings.  Punish Hamas only, and let the rest have economic freedom.

December 30, 1:11 am | [comment link]
19. Cousin Vinnie wrote:

I agree with Jeffersonian.  All civilian casualties in this conflict, on both sides, are the responsibility of Hamas, and the Palestinians who democratically endorsed Hamas.  In my opinion, a captured Hamas combatant could be justifiably executed for the deaths of either Israeli or Palestinian civilians, since Hamas does everything it can to make itself indistinguishable from noncombatants. 

The care exercised by Israel in targeting the combatants hiding in the midst of ostensible noncombatants has been remarkable.

December 30, 1:29 am | [comment link]
20. azusa wrote:

“Sulik has something interesting to say:  the fact is that nobody supports Hamas.  Palestinians support Hamas because its the only game going.  the problem is that economic strangulation helps Hamas.”
Actually Iran and all good Shari’a, jihadi-minded people support Hamas - quite a few in Europe. The ‘economic strangulation’ could be lifted tomorrow if Hamas just observed the rule of law. Gaza did fairly well until 2005. 

“Palestinians aren’t different than other human beings confined into cages for 50 years.  Perhaps its time we started treating them like human beings.  Punish Hamas only, and let the rest have economic freedom.”
Such willful ignorance, where does one begin?
1. Who confined the Palis to ‘cages for 50 years’? The United Nations and the Arab states that ran the so-called refugee camps. Can you imagine if millions of displaced Europeans and their children and grandchildren had been kept in camps, deliberately unemployed and unsettled for 60 years after 1945?
2. Who do you think voted for Hamas? It was the Gazans’ ‘choice’.

December 30, 7:00 am | [comment link]
21. DaveG wrote:

What is “disproportionate” about targeting those who are killing Israeli citizens?  It would be disproportionate, perhaps, if Gazan women and children were targeted.  It remains a tragedy that people are dying but if violence there is to be prevented, it has to start with an end to the murder of Israelis.  Was the Warsaw uprising “disproportionate” because Jews defended themselves against Nazis intent on their destruction?  The difference here is that the Jews are not defenseless or armed only with pea shooters.  Stop killing Jews (and Israeli Arabs) and there is no doubt that Israel would not conduct strikes against terrorists in Gaza, the Golan or the West Bank.  Until that happens, what sane Israeli would eschew self-protection?

December 30, 7:30 am | [comment link]
22. Philip Snyder wrote:

John,
Do you remember what casue Israel to build the wall around Gaza?  Do you remember the constant suicide bombings?  The uses of ambulances to carry explosives from Gaza into Israel?  The smuggling of murderers and terrorists into Israel? 

Palestinains complaining about being treated unfairly is like a drug addict who curses his luck that he has no money, no family, no friends, and is constantly needing his drug.  They are in a situation of their own making. 

The Palestinains are addicted to hatred and terrorism.  They need to break this dependency or it will kill (and is killing) them.

Now, none of us want what we deserve and none of us get what we deserve - I believe that is called Grace.  But for significant grace to be extended to the Palestinians, shouldn’t we expect them to foreswear violence against civilians?  Shouldn’t we expect them to acknowledge that Israel has a right to exist?  Perhaps this situation will be the one where the Palestinians “hit bottom” in their addiction to hatred and terrorism and ask go to rehab.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

December 30, 8:18 am | [comment link]
23. Vintner wrote:

Katherine’s and the Vatican’s words (while OK in and of themselves) would hold more weight if they acknowledged that the Hamas attacks instigated this or if they warned Hamas that retaliation was coming if they did not cease their attacks on Israel

But what instigated the earlier attacks?  Surely you are not saying that Israel is completely blameless in this ordeal, are you?  Israel is hellbent on making Palestinians their whipping boys by whatever means are necessary. You only hear of firepower.  What about economic?

I liken Israel to TEC and the Palestinians to the new supposed province trying to take place.  Yet since conservatives can “logically” explain away their tactics of trying to drive parishioners from TEC by attacking its leaders or re-directing their funds or taking away property, they would never see it that way.  But it’s oh so easy to condemn this whole mess as being the Palestinians fault because for some odd and foolish reason, you seem to think that Israel can do no wrong and is completely blameless.

December 30, 11:44 am | [comment link]
24. John Wilkins wrote:

Philip, if Tim McVeigh is an American, are all Americans terrorists?  Should I collectively punish all the people in his hometown?  Or just all white people? 

The Palestinians are not “addicted” to terrorism.  That is, plainly, a racist sentiment - and a convenient one.  It allows you to overlook suffering and justify treating them like animals.  Neither you or I have lived in the West Bank or Gaza.  When you’re 7 and see youf father and brothe die due to an Israeli bomb, are you supposed to think, “they deserved it, probably?”  it’s not a genetic condition, Phil.

Punish those who have weapons.  Hunt and destroy those who sell arms to them.  But the idea that Palestinians are all in full agreement with Hamas shows a deep ignorance of the variety of political thinking in Palestine.

Palestinians have protested Hamas and the politicization of the Mosques.  During peacetime, Palestinians protested Hamas’ heightening initiating warfare.  You didn’t read about it, did you?  It wouldn’t fit in with the Narratives that all Palestinians are evil. 

Right now, many Palestinians are looking at the one state solution.  Asking to become Israeli citizens, and looking for full citizenship. 

Of course the Palestinians should forswear violence.  But what might Israel allow?  Perhaps some economic freedom to show good will.  Or even halting the building of settlements.  It’s not much.

December 30, 2:09 pm | [comment link]
25. Choir Stall wrote:

There is absolutely no contribution that the Presiding Squiddress can make on this or any other conflict. Her litiguous nature ended that facet of credibility a long time ago. But, she is inserting herself at many venues to put some kind of palatable face on her imploding Province. Too little, too late. The Road Show didn’t fix Gene Robinson’s diocese, and it sure won’t fix this Province.

December 30, 2:50 pm | [comment link]
26. Jeffersonian wrote:

Philip, if Tim McVeigh is an American, are all Americans terrorists?

I don’t know, John, did 58% of Americans think Tim McVeigh was right on?

The June 2006 poll found that 34 percent of Gaza residents thought the new Hamas government was better than its Fatah predecessor, compared to 22 percent of West Bank residents; that 56 percent of Gazans opposed the Oslo Accords, compared to 45 percent of West Bankers; and that 58.2 percent of Gazans supported suicide bombings against Israel, compared to 37.1 percent of West Bankers.

You spout your nonsense about Gazans supporting Hamas purely as an anti-Fatah, anti-corruption push.  There was surely some of that, but there undeniably a large faction that supports them because they are rabid Jew-killers.  Let’s put it another way: Did 58% of Gazans protest the politicization of the mosques, or was it just a handful?

Let’s get quantitative for a bit here.

December 30, 3:57 pm | [comment link]
27. Philip Snyder wrote:

John,
How would you feel about US Citizens if they elected Timothy McVeigh President by an overwhelming margin?  Would you say that the majority of Americans were addicted to violence?

I say that the Palestinains (as a whole) are addicted to violence and hatred.  This does not mean that all Palestinains are addicted to violence any more than it means that all Americans are fat and lazy.

But the fact remains that the Palestinians in Gaza elected a known terrorist organization whose stated goal is the eliminiation of Israel by violent means to represent them to the world and to care for them in Gaza.  Doesn’t that alarm you?

As for Israel giving some “economic freedom,” they tried that and Hamas used that freedom to smuggle in bombs and terrorists and kill Israeli citizens.  If Mexico were bringing in bombs and killing people along the border, we would send in the Army and Air Force to stop it.  (Well, we did prior to WWI when Panco Villa raided across the border.)

If the Palestinian people want peace and economic freedom, then they need to foreswear violence and punish those who commit and foment violence against Israel.

YBIC,
Phil Snyder

December 30, 4:09 pm | [comment link]
28. Larry Morse wrote:

“That is, plainly, a racist sentiment - and a convenient one.”  This really is a bit too much, Mr. Wilkins. I saw no racism there. (But I do think the Elves ought to edit out such remarks.) In any case, John, the word I wanted was “extirpation,” not some other. It is the correct word in this context. And you accusation about my not having lived in a concentration camp is truly irrelevant (although, of course, you did not know my first wife). You have forgotten Israel’s Jewish history, it would seem. Do you remember what they had to do to return to their homeland? Are you at all aware what Hamas and Hezbullah (and Iran, for that matter) want to do to Israel?
L

December 30, 10:30 pm | [comment link]
29. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

Hey, not only does Hamas shoot rockets, it’s upped the ante to crucifixion at home:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1230111707087&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull

Way to go, PB!  How many Gaza dwellers will have to be crucified for you to notice?  How many Israelis killed by rockets?  Just askin’.

John Wilkins, what do you think in regard to the numbers needed before commenting on Hamas as it really acts?

December 30, 11:05 pm | [comment link]
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