Israel-Palestine in Perspective

Three really excellent sermons by Rev. Dr. Alasdair Black of Stirling Baptist Church, relating to the Israel-Palestine problem, given during the recent bombing campaign of Israel on Gaza.  They are entitled, ‘Putting the Israeli-Palestine Conflict in Perspective.’

Click here to go to the church web site or go straight to the sermon below

 27 July What kind of nation? Rev Dr. Alasdair Black  https://sites.google.com/site/sbc100428/ser/other-sermons-2014/download-now1jpeg.jpg
  3 August A Christian response to the Palestinian conflict  Rev Dr. Alasdair Black
https://sites.google.com/site/sbc100428/ser/other-sermons-2014/download-now1jpeg.jpg
 10 August The holocaust narrative in the Old Testament Rev Dr. Alasdair Black
https://sites.google.com/site/sbc100428/ser/putting-the-israeli-palestine-conflict-in-perspective/download-now1jpeg.jpg

The god of war

Ares, the god of war, lives!

And his children Fear and Terror have made Zeus a grandfather!

He rides the earth on his war chariot with his lover, Discord!

G1

He is a foul impostor on the earth, a god of unimaginable suffering and pain.

Men flock to his side.  They cheer him and throw flowers at his feet.  He is the Victor.

Economies are driven by the desire to satisfy his blood lust.

 

In his name, generations of children are sacrificed.

Baal and Molech are his ancient biblical blue-prints.

Each desiring the bodies of babies thrown to the flames.

G2

Men cast into war, in the name of freedom.

And sometimes, brazenly, in the name of tyranny.

Sent anywhere and everywhere that his bastard children can spread their fame.

 

Yet when they return, if they return;

Bodies and minds broken; hearts frozen; eyes glazed,

Even then he will not relent.  His lust for chaos is unrelenting.

 

He unleashes his bride, his lover, some say his sister.

Even incest is within his remit.

Discord: you heartless bitch!  Leave mankind alone.

G3

Shameless, you all press on, within and without the heart of man.

Children driven into the bloodied dust.

Bombs, rockets, bullets and mines.

 

Dictators who do your bidding.

Economies that do your spending.

Governments that do your defending.

 

The game is up!

The time is short.

Your ways are the ways of man.

 

And the ways of man are done.

Nothing new under the sun.

Tyranny is our middle name.

 

You are a false god,

And you have been called, judged, sentenced.

Your doom is certain.

Children-killed-by-Israel-on-beach

For there is One who has come.

A man from heaven,

Light from light

 

God from God.

Word become flesh.

His Cross has sentenced you to death.

Sideways Cross

The Hell of Hells is where you belong.

You shall go down, and unlike this Word made flesh,

You shall not rise.

 

But the sons and daughters of man,

They shall rise.

They shall rise and rejoice.

 

For fear and terror have given way to faith and love.

Discord must yield to Peace.

And this false god of thunder;

 

Must give way before the whisper,

the still small voice,

the sheer silence of the true and living God who is!

 

qol d’mamah daqqah.

God’s breath.

God’s Spirit.

 

Will silence the false gods of war and chaos.

Ares the false god is judged.

Yahweh Lives!

Praise him in London and New York.

Praise Him in Gaza; the guns will be silenced for Ares will be sentenced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Room Called Gaza

We are a big family and we owned this beautiful house with stunning land all around.

We’ve had many neighbours from all over the world down the centuries, not all of them have been good to us, but most have.  Suddenly, one day, one violent day almost 70 years ago now, when I was a boy, we were having a wonderful family meal out in the garden when there appeared men and women from nowhere.  We’d never seen them before but they insisted the house was theirs.

They stopped us eating the food and they ate it themselves.  They even took food out of my baby brother’s mouth.  They insulted us and hurt us.  “This house belongs to us now!” they shouted.  My family were in shock and many were crying.  One or two tried to fight back, but the intruders were too strong.

They moved us all into the basement of the house.  I say all, but only 13 made it, we lost three of our family, my own father, his brother and my older cousin.  We never saw them again.

The basement room was small and dingy, it was dark and we only had one small window that let in sunlight, but even that was sometimes covered by those who took over our house.

They shut the basement door and locked it.  We couldn’t go anywhere and were told to be quiet lest we disturb the party that was going on above our heads, in our house!

The conditions were filthy and we heard them calling us dirty dogs.  We had little water, we ate scraps and we had no hope.  Over the years our family grew, there were by now over 300 of us, in the same space as the original 13.  Occasionally, the occupiers of my house would open the door, they said as a gesture of peace and good-will to let some fresh air come in.  The whole world congratulated them for doing this.  An “outstanding act of generosity” as one pompous Western government commented.

We were left filled with pain and confusion.  And in time this made us angry.  Very angry.  Some of our own growing family had never known it otherwise.  Born under occupation.  Living under occupation.  Dying in occupation.  Yes, we were very angry.

The sheer force of energy in the young was a wonder to behold.  For sure some were hot heads who just wanted to charge the enemy and keep charging until all are dead.  I understand the anger that can lead to these feelings.  Others would bang on the door relentlessly, crying out for freedom, for rights, for a return to our house.  Sometimes those in our house would retaliate by beating and killing some of us, other times they would come in to the basement room and really hurt us with a vast array of power and force.  We lived in fear.  Fear of the unexpected and fear of the expected and this made the younger men even more angry.

We heard those in the house telling visitors that the reason we were locked in the basement room was because we were angry and violent, that we wanted their destruction, that we were anti-Semitic.  But we are Semitic ourselves.  We are angry now because they took our house then.  But we don’t want their destruction, even though some of the hotheads say as much, it’s just our Arab way of exaggerating to make a point, we just want our house back!

We want to join the human race again.  We want to feel the sun on our face as free-men and women.  We want our children to grow up loving life not despising it.  We want to live.  We want our house back.

My house is called Palestine and the basement room we have called Gaza.

Help us.

Gaza: A UK Jewish Perspective

Robert Cohen has written are very helpful and personal account of what this current Gazan crisis means for him, as a Jew in the UK.  Below is the full copy of the article he wrote on Tikkun Daily.

Robert himself blogs at Micah’s Paradigm Shift and I recommend a look.

Like me, Robert went to Israel/Palestine with Amos Trust in 2011, though we went on separate trips as I don’t know him personally.  Here’s what he writes….

 

“For the last three years I’ve been writing monthly posts about Israel-Palestine from a UK Jewish perspective. At times like this, with the news from Gaza dominating world headlines, I feel an even greater responsibility to champion a Judaism that stands for more than a narrow nationalist ideology.

It took me about 25 years from the point of first engaging seriously with the subject as student in the 1980s to feeling confident enough to start saying anything in a public sphere. Like many other Jews, for years I felt increasingly uncomfortable with what was going on in Israel in the unchallengeable name of defense and security. I was the classic liberal Zionist, brought up on a diet of Jewish ethics and Western democratic values. It was an upbringing that left me in an ever increasing state of ‘angst’ over the actions of the Jewish State, a country that claimed to act in my name and in my interests. But whatever I was feeling, I avoided family discussions let alone public debate.

It was operation Cast Lead and the ground invasion of the Gaza Strip in 2008/9 that began my journey from an Israeli supporting peacenik to a marginalized Diaspora Jew, questioning the entire Zionist project. After watching children dying from Israeli missiles and bombs, my silent Jewish angst felt like so much useless self-indulgence. It was a feeling I wanted to avoid next time things kicked off in Gaza. And I suspected there would be a next time.

A visit in 2011 to Israel (my third) and to the West Bank (my first) finally completed the emotional and intellectual journey. Talking to Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line taught me that something had gone very wrong with the Jewish dream of self-determination. Whatever the questions raised by two thousand years of ‘exile’, this could not be the answer. A Sparta state, increasingly racist in its culture of Jewish ethnic privilege, had not resolved any of the issues Herzl and the early Zionists had set out to address. Instead it had created a truck-load of new problems and left another people homeless and oppressed.

But with support for Israel now fundamental to Jewish identity in the diaspora, and anti-Zionism considered a more serious communal offense than marrying-out, where could an individual still committed to their Jewish values, but at odds with Israel, find a place to stand and speak?

Well not in the synagogue nor at family simchas. Too many prayers for the IDF and too much singing of Hatikva to allow dissent. The blogosphere and the internet, with its ability to create virtual communities of interest, has become the only place big enough and open enough to allow me in. In cyberspace everyone can hear you scream…or choose to click you into silence.

And now, in 2014, the people of Gaza are being pummeled again. And with the sound of sirens still ringing in Israeli ears, who is willing to listen to a lecture on Jewish values when Jewish lives have been at stake?

I am reminded by members of my family that ‘our side’ drop leaflets and make phone calls before firing missiles. And, unlike ‘them’, we care about the safety of our children and put them in air raid shelters. So that makes our missiles moral and their dead children their own fault not ours. You should at least show some balance in your views, they say.

But I stopped seeing any ‘balance’ a long time ago. I don’t credit the phone calls or the leaflets or the ‘knock on the roof’ ballistic warnings. All I can see is the same old colossal lack of imagination, dressed up in clothes of self-righteousness and victim hood, that has driven both Israeli and Jewish communal politics into an ethical brick wall.

I pray that a ceasefire can be successfully negotiated (to the satisfaction of both sides) so that Palestinians will stop being killed and Israelis can stop living in fear….at least for a while. But it is at times like this, that ‘rescuing the Hebrew covenant’ becomes paramount.

Since I began, three years ago, I have attempted to remain true to the blog strap line I first adopted: Act justly, love kindness, walk humbly. Rescuing the Hebrew Covenant one blog post at a time.

The scripturally minded will recognize the abbreviated quote from the Hebrew Prophet Micah.

Justice. Kindness. Humility.

For me, this is what the Hebrew Covenant boils down to after 5,000 years of Jewish history. This, to answer the test question set by the prophet in the 8th century BCE, is what God requires of us.

The Micah based Covenant is the sacred understanding that we are created for the sake of others. And with so much emphasis in the Hebrew bible on the ‘stranger’ and ‘neighbour’ there is little doubt in my mind that the justice/kindness/humility ethical imperative must embrace all of humanity. Which, despite the remarks of some Knesset members in the last two weeks, must include Palestinians living in Gaza City and Khan Younis too.

If my reading of scripture is correct then Jewish territorial sovereignty didn’t work out so well the first two times. See Isaiah and Jeremiah for further reading. Third time around and we are making another ethical hash of things.

If the mainstream Jewish leadership in the UK, North America and the rest of the Diaspora, does not recognize such a description then I can only assume that they don’t have a problem with ethnic dispossession or military occupation or collective punishment, or institutional discrimination. All of which could be the case if they are still seriously wedded to the Land/Chosenness/Election reading of the Covenant. To me that’s an Iron Age religious understanding that is now well past its sell-buy date.

Our actions, both historical and contemporary, towards the Palestinians are the greatest challenge facing Judaism and the Jewish people today. We have to find a way through this that means more than defending a narrow nationalist ideology. In the long run, rescuing the Hebrew Covenant is the only sane, ethical and Jewish way forward.”

With thanks to Robert Cohen.

gaza-11

 

Picture Source Independent UK 

Open Letter to the BBC

Dear BBC

Once again Gaza is under massive aerial bombardment from Israeli warplanes and drones, and, once again, the BBC’s reporting of these assaults is entirely devoid of context or background.

We would like to remind the BBC that Gaza is under Israeli occupation and siege.

We would like to remind you that Israel is bombing a refugee population – Palestinians who were made refugees when they were forced from their land in1948 in order to create Israel.

We would like to remind you that Gaza has no army, air force, or navy, while Israel possess one of the strongest militaries in the world.

When you portray Israel’s shelling of a civilian population as a ‘response’ or ‘retaliation’ to rocket strikes from Gaza, we would like to remind you that these events flow from the displacement of the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people from their homes and communities, with millions now corralled as refugees in the Gaza Strip. That initial injustice was compounded and continues with the ongoing occupation and siege.

When you portray the occupier as the victim, and the occupied as the aggressor, we would like to remind you that resistance to occupation is a right under international law. And we would like you to remember that Israel’s occupation, siege and collective punishment of Gaza is not.

And, finally, we would like to remind BBC journalists, when interviewing Israel’s spokespeople over the coming days, to ask the one question they have all failed to ask: “If Israel ends its occupation of Palestinian land, and allows the people of Palestine to live in freedom from Israeli domination, would that bring peace?”

Yours sincerely

Gralefrit

 

NOTE:  This letter can be found here:  http://www.palestinecampaign.org/sign-open-letter-bbc/

Please sign your name and raise awareness of this escalating madness.

The picture below was taken by me recently.  It is a blade of grass growing out of concrete.  If grass can grow out of concrete, peace can be found between Israeli and Palestinian.

grassinconcrete

The Good Palestinian

Palestineknees

“People are angry because they can’t travel and have to wait a long time at borders with around three weeks behind their planned schedules. Also, fuel shortages affected the electricity supply, the use of generators and most importantly transportation. The daily life of ordinary people has been touched and negatively affected. Also, the Israelis have been tightening the Gaza crossings. Signs of the deteriorating status include a reduction in elective surgery at hospitals by 50% due to shortage of fuel and medicines, nearly half of the essential drugs at the zero stock…loss of hope, desperation and frustration dominate the general picture.”

A Christian Palestinian living in Gaza

When was the last time you prayed for your brothers and sisters in Gaza?

Do it now.

For the love of Christ.