The Common Good

What About Them?

All this talk about the three Israelis killed by Gaza rockets …

Israeli forces arrest a Palestinian youth during clashes in Arab Jerusalem Issawiya.AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images

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What about the fifteen Palestinians killed by Israeli bombs?

If I were inclined to give mathematical value to people based on the media coverage I watched on “Fox & Friends” this morning, I would come to this conclusion:

3 Israelis > 15 Palestinians

I don’t think God sees it that way.  To God, all human life is equally precious.

I saw a photo showing an Israeli holding a blood-covered, critically injured 8-month-old baby. 

There’s another photo of a man, Jihad Masharawi, clutching his 11-month-old son on today’s Washington Post front page. Jihad is a Palestinian and a BBC Correspondent. He lives in Gaza. I presume he has a wife, with whom he had his son, Omar. 

Omar was killed.

It is one of the great tragedies of war that the innocents on both sides suffer.

Ironically, Pam Geller and her American Freedom Defense Initiative put up signs in subway stations in several cities with the same message: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” 

Well there you go: Jihad is defeated. His son is killed.

So to all of us who are fighting that war: is our love of Jesus carrying us to victory?

Did the Jesus we love really walk through Samaria and declare, “Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father?”

Why is it so hard to find common ground when the ground upon which Israelis and Palestinians walk has been shared (albeit, not always peacefully). Is the land so holy that it is holier than the sacredness of human life? 

I don’t know what God intended for Israel/Palestine. But I know that there are Israelis who hate Palestinians, Palestinians who love Israelis, Palestinians who hate Israelis, and Israelis who love Palestinians. I don’t know how to be a Christian and support peace in the Middle East. But what resonates with me now is this saying from Desmond Tutu:  

“True Christian worship includes the love of God and the love of neighbour. The two must go together or your Christianity is false. St. John asks in his first epistle how you can say you love God, whom you have not seen, if you hate your brother, whom you have. Our love for God is tested and proved by our love for our neighbour.” (Tutu, Naomi. The Words of Desmond Tutu: Second Edition)

James Colten is Assistant to the CEO at Sojourners. Follow him on Twitter @jamescolten

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