Israel Living By the Sword

Israel-Palestine-conflict-tankSo, that didn’t take very long did it? Within days, even hours of accomplishing some sort of peace with the Palestinians and Hamas the government of Israel declared another illegal land grab of territory that doesn’t belong to them;the largest such criminal (and recurring) action in 3 decades. The timing was telling and obvious; a chest thumpingly aggressive taunt.  Taking advantage of their superior strength over the poorer and weaker natives our cousins in the faith again chose violence and supremacy for the path ahead.

The international community, including the U.S., was quick to condemn the grab, calling it further oppression of the non-Jewish natives, further isolation of millions and continued denial of human rights and hope for peaceful resolution. It feels like mere words. The Desperate tend to resort to violence when other avenues remain futile, especially against a vastly more powerful Overlord insisting on its own (more subtle and farther reaching) violence.

This is not Israel defending itself – a right I heartily affirm. This isn’t time to trot out the old concern about Israel’s survival. If anything this is Israel threatening to push the Palestinians into the sea. And in this very complex conflict it feels harder than ever to see Israel as the put-upon victim it has enjoyed playing for so long. The crazily uneven death tolls from the last months put the conflict into some category other than mere war.

I am beginning a study of the book of Joshua this fall at Genesis. Keenly aware that the stories we tell about our Origins greatly color how we see ourselves and how we interact with others. The great violence at the heart of Joshua and the Hebrew children “conquering” the land feels remarkably close to the uncritical sense of entitlement so much of Israel’s politicians echo. It is a view widely affirmed by conservatives in our country as well, and it is really a sham(e).

It colors how we make sense of our own living out the faith and spreading the word. How does God choose to move into the world, into contemporary culture around us? With power and invasion like the book of Joshua seems (seems!!) to portray? Since annexation, manipulation and entitlement are profoundly toxic and dangerous to carry around with us, is there another way?

There is, but we gotta talk about it together.