Connecting with Culture
It’s been said that culture is ‘what we make of the world’, but what does that look like as Christians? How can we begin conversations about what’s goin...
Following the attacks on Israel by Hamas on Saturday, Israel’s Defence Minister ordered a ‘complete siege’ of the Gaza strip and the cutting off of food, fuel, electricity and water supplies.
Speaking to officials from Southern Israel on Monday, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said ‘what Hamas will experience will be difficult and terrible… this is only the beginning… we are all with you and we will defeat them with force, enormous force.’
The world today looks very different from the way it appeared thirty years ago. It was in September 1993 that the then Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and the PLO leader, Yasser Arafat, shook hands before cheering crowds on the White House lawn. The handshake – the first ever in public between the two former enemies – marked the signing of a Declaration of Principles for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Since then, peace moves have stalled and more moderate voices who seemed open to compromise have been replaced by more extreme ones.
How should we respond to the events of the last week?
First and foremost, we must unequivocally condemn the Hamas attacks for what they are – evil acts of terror, including the rape, kidnapping, and murder of women, men, and children. Any attempt to justify these actions is morally indefensible, and we must firmly oppose the arguments of those who seek to rationalise them. Contrary to what one academic at a British University has said, the events of last weekend are not the ‘consequence’ for ‘partying on stolen land’.
Secondly, we should grieve. The land flowing with milk and honey is instead a land of blood and tears. We should grieve with those who are suffering in the Bible lands, as elsewhere around the world. In the face of injustice, we should weep.
Thirdly, we should pray for those who are suffering, for a de-escalation of violence, and for peace. We should pray that Israel acts justly and proportionately, even as it fulfils its duty to protect its citizens. In waging war on terror, governments should always act to promote good and prevent evil (Romans 13:4). The line between punishing evil and revenge can be a fine one, but it’s an important one.
Finally, we should examine ourselves and work for peace and justice in our everyday lives. We might not think of ourselves as powerful, but, every day, we have opportunities, big and small, to create a better world – in our workplaces and communities, through political campaigning and our shopping choices, and even with our contributions to social media. In the words of Isaiah 1:17, we must ‘learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.’