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Monday, January 5, 2009

Gaza, Israel and Hamas; Do We Understand?

I was in Israel a little over a month ago. I left on December 4. Things were calm. In fact, they were more relaxed than I remembered when I was there ten year before. (They did confiscate a pocketknife from me at one of the security checkpoints but I have lost a bunch of these in U.S. airports too.)

It seems that all the news from Israel is violent now. Hamas thought that a cease-fire is like a timer which would allow them to attack Israel. I have a hard time believing that their rocket fire was anything more than a provocation for Israel to attack. Do they hope to get the other Arab countries involved? Do they believe they will get support from the international community? I have no idea.

Too often Americans who believe they can solve the world's problems step up and defend or condemn the actions of other countries without knowing what is at the heart of the matter. Most Americans don't know American history, yet many of these will prescribe solutions to other countries. I can't tell you that I know the answer to the problems in Gaza but I know I should have enough sense to withhold judgment.

I did not find open conflict with Arabs and Jews in Israel. The people I met wanted to make a living and get along with others. I saw one protest while I was in Israel and it had nothing to do with Arab-Israeli conflicts. It was organized. The police were there to monitor but they were leaning against their patrol cars drinking water and paying more attention to their conversations with their fellow officers than to the protesters.

Yet, there are some people who have an embedded hatred which they teach to their children to continue the conflict. These people have grown up with this. It is normal and natural for them. They cannot imagine releasing the hatred. They are a minority yet they make many people believe that the whole country of Israel is constantly fighting conflicts with the Arab people.

People asked me, "Did you feel safe?" upon my return. Their question revealed their perception. This perception is perpetuated by the media. I don't think they have an agenda, I think they are justifying the money their news agencies are shelling out to keep them in Israel. They make every conflict a major story.

This clouds our thinking. We are unable to discern between a serious conflict and a minor one. We call all of them major. Therefore, we believe their is a constant hatred between all Arabs and Jews in Israel.

So, I pray for peace in Israel. I pray for the end of conflict and forgiveness to be given and received. I don't pretend to understand it all. I don't think I have to.

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