Gaza: Irony, Violence, Fear, and Insecurity…

In the wake of the current violence in Gaza, a huge number of ironic comments abound. Many of them are unintentional: they are the product of people who really haven’t thought the facts through. One comment of this kind which really took me aback recently was made by a proponent of Israel. He said that the recent Hamas attack had created a very dangerous situation. He argued that Israelis now felt threatened, insecure, and helpless. This, he continued, created a volatile situation where they might lash out… Well, what a surprise for the Israelis! Almost every Palestinian in the region lives in a state of helplessness and insecurity every day of their lives. 

The fact is, the Israelis are so focused on having complete security for themselves, that they have completely ignored the fact that Palestinians also crave security. Palestinians recognize that they are unlikely to get it by remaining captives to Israeli policy. It is vital to remember in all this chaos that Palestinians on the West Bank, who are not ruled by Hamas, haven’t fired rockets, and have generally demonstrated in non-violent ways, still face treatment from Israel similar to the people of Gaza. Their land is still stolen, their homes invaded, and violence from Israeli settlers goes largely unpunished. Meanwhile, any misbehavior by Palestinians is dealt with harshly. This is clear evidence of the kind of apartheid state Israel has become. 

Read more: Gaza: Irony, Violence, Fear, and Insecurity…

Violence Is Never the Answer

A Statement by the Board of Trustees of Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)

As Palestinians and Israelis mourn the tragic deaths of their loved ones, worry for those missing or taken captive, and attempt to treat the wounded, even as violence and bloodshed continue to rage, we believe that it is necessary to assert a basic tenet of Palestinian Liberation Theology; namely, violence is never the answer.

While insisting on the essential need for justice, Palestinian Christians from all denominations have asserted the fundamental truth that war and violence are never options for the followers of Jesus Christ. He is, after all, the Prince of Peace who in the Beatitudes proclaims, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” Jesus also introduces us to the radical idea that those who would follow him are called upon to love their enemies, not to hate them.

Throughout history, Christians (often on both sides of any conflict) have developed a variety of theories to justify war and the killing of others. Three prominent justifications for the use of violence include: 

  • “Just War Theory,”
  • “duty or deference to the authorities,” and 
  • “defense of one’s country or people.”

The vast majority of Palestinian Christians, by contrast, have followed the example of Jesus and the early church, rejecting violence totally. Such a radical stance is sorely needed as it concerns the present crisis. This is not just a theological and spiritual orientation. It is a realistic assessment that, for Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs, violence will never be able to provide each community with what they ultimately need. Exertions of military power to force (or “deter”) the other side into submission have proven futile. 

Given the asymmetry of power in the region, it has always been clear that violence and paramilitary force will never achieve the liberation that Palestinians seek, a reality and a truth we see confirmed in recent events.

Similarly, events on October 7 have also made clear that even the most sophisticated security technology, maintained by one of the world’s most powerful militaries, with the backing of a global superpower, cannot insulate a colonialist regime or subdue a determined people desperate for freedom, a people who are willing to tolerate extraordinary suffering at the hands of vastly superior forces, rather than accept defeat and submission.

The world may not always agree with or understand the path or logic of nonviolence. The natural, even biological, response in situations of conflict is to “fight or flight,” to double down on violence, seeking retribution and revenge. There exists, therefore, a great need for us to model an alternative response to situations of conflict and injustice. In doing so, we declare that it is indeed possible to achieve our goals and fulfill our desires through mutual agreement and understanding. Following the example of Jesus Christ, such empathy and understanding may in fact transform enemies into friends. As the Apostle Paul declares:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, [they will burn with shame at their misdeeds].” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

–Romans 12:17-21

As the Board of Trustees at Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), we reiterate our commitment to this truth and say with conviction that there is no military solution to this problem. Both Palestinians and Israelis are children of God worthy of freedom, dignity, and security. We must pursue these aims, but we cannot use violence as a tool to pursue them. Whatever fresh horrors our opponents are committing, our response should not be violence. We must reject the tired refrain that “our enemies only understand the language of force.” Only in this way can we proclaim good news in this broken world.

Gaza: Reflections on Brutality, Retribution, and Redemption


In Palestine today, brutality seems to be the main theme. It will be my main theme as well, but in in somewhat different way. 

The Hamas attacks in southern Israel were certainly brutal, abhorrent, and atrocious. The media has covered that aspect in excruciating, graphic, and almost non-stop detail. I see no point in elaborating on the physical violence. Instead, I want to state some brutal truths about the current state of affairs. Many people decry the form that Palestinian resistance (at least the now prominent Hamas version) has taken. They often plead that it should be non-violent. In this regard, it is highly relevant to refer to an expert on non-violence—Mahama Gandhi. 

Gandhi rarely spoke about Ahimsa (non-violence) without mentioning his concept of Satyagraha (truth telling). To paraphrase one writer’s* take on this: ‘Truth is the most fundamental aspect in Gandhi's Philosophy of nonviolence. Ahimsa is the basis of the search for truth. Satyagraha literally means devotion to truth, remaining firm on the truth and resisting untruth actively but nonviolently.’ 

While he promoted non-violence, Gandhi had little tolerance for mere cowardice. He felt that a failure to fight back could do more harm than physical violence. He also made a clear distinction between passive and physical violence. He argued that passive violence is a daily affair, consciously and unconsciously. It is the fuel for physical violence. I think this notion of “passive violence” would include ignoring the truth, deception, self-deception, remaining willfully ignorant, or repeating the oft discredited so-called “common wisdom” (mostly often repeated lies) about the struggle in Palestine. 

The lie that does the greatest brutality to the truth is the claim that the recent Hamas attack was “unprovoked.” That is absurd. The provocation began with Zionist settlement in 1895 and continues today. 

Read more: Gaza: Reflections on Brutality, Retribution, and Redemption

Public Statement: Scholars Warn of Potential Genocide in Gaza

Public Statement: Scholars Warn of Potential Genocide in Gaza

On 15 October 2023, over 800 scholars and practitioners of international law, conflict studies and genocide studies signed a public statement warning of the possibility of genocide being perpetrated by Israeli forces against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Signatories include prominent Holocaust and genocide studies scholars, as well as many international law and TWAIL scholars. The text of the statement and list of signatures is below, and a pdf version can be accessed here.

Public Statement: Scholars Warn of Potential Genocide in Gaza

15 October 2023

As scholars and practitioners of international law, conflict studies and genocide studies, we are compelled to sound the alarm about the possibility of the crime of genocide being perpetrated by Israeli forces against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. We do not do so lightly, recognising the weight of this crime, but the gravity of the current situation demands it. 

The pre-existing conditions in the Gaza Strip had already prompted discussions of genocide prior to the current escalation – such as by the National Lawyers Guild in 2014, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in 2014, and the Center for Constitutional Rights in 2016. Scholars have warned over the years that the siege of Gaza may amount to a “prelude to genocide” or a “slow-motion genocide”. The prevalence of racist and dehumanising language and hate speech in social media was also noted in a warning issued in July 2014 by the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide and Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, in response to Israel’s conduct against the protected Palestinian population. The Special Advisers noted that individual Israelis had disseminated messages that could be dehumanising to the Palestinians and that had called for the killing of members of this group, and reiterated that incitement to commit atrocity crimes is prohibited under international law. 

Israel’s current military offensive on the Gaza Strip since 7 October 2023, however, is unprecedented in scale and severity, and consequently in its ramifications for the population of Gaza. Following the incursion by Palestinian armed groups on 7 October 2023, including criminal attacks against Israeli civilians, the Gaza Strip has been subjected to incessant and indiscriminate bombardment by Israeli forces. Between 7 October and 9:00 a.m. on 15 October, there have been 2,329 Palestinians killed and 9,042 Palestinians injured in Israeli attacks on Gaza, including over 724 children, huge swathes of neighbourhoods and entire families across Gaza have been obliterated. Israel’s Defence Minister ordered a “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip prohibiting the supply of fuel, electricity, water and other essential necessities. This terminology itself indicates an intensification of an already illegal, potentially genocidal siege to an outright destructive assault. 

Read more: Public Statement: Scholars Warn of Potential Genocide in Gaza

Jewish Voice for Peace calls on all people of conscience to stop imminent genocide

The Israeli government has declared a genocidal war on the people of Gaza. As an organization that works for a future where Palestinians and Israelis and all people live in equality and freedom, we call on all people of conscience to stop imminent genocide of Palestinians. 

Jewish Voice for Peace mourns deeply for the over 1,200 Israelis killed, the families destroyed, including many of our own, and fears for the lives of Israelis taken hostage. Many are still counting the dead, looking for missing loved ones, devastated by the losses. 

We wholeheartedly agree with leading Palestinian rights groups: the massacres committed by Hamas against Israeli civilians are horrific war crimes. There is no justification in international law for the indiscriminate killing of civilians or the holding of civilian hostages. 

And now, horrifyingly, the Israeli and American governments are weaponizing these deaths to fuel a genocidal war against Palestinians in Gaza, pledging to “open the gates of hell.” This war is a continuation of the Nakba, when in 1948, tens of thousands of Palestinians fleeing violence sought refuge in Gaza. It’s a continuation of 75 years of Israeli occupation and apartheid

Already this week, over 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed.  The Israeli government has wrought complete and total devastation on Palestinians across Gaza, attacking hospitals, schools, mosques, marketplaces, and apartment buildings.  

As we write, the Israeli government has shut off all electricity to Gaza. Hospitals cannot save lives, the internet will collapse, people will have no phones to communicate with the outside world, and drinking water for two million people will run out. Gaza will be plunged into darkness as Israel turns its neighborhoods to rubble.  Still worse, Israel has openly stated an intention to commit mass atrocities and even genocide, with Prime Minister Netanyahu saying the Israeli response will “reverberate for generations.”  

And right now, the U.S. government is enabling the Israeli government’s atrocities, sending weapons, moving U.S. warships into proximity and sending U.S.-made munitions, and pledging blanket support and international cover for any actions taken by the Israeli government. Furthermore, the U.S. government officials are spreading racist, hateful, and incendiary rhetoric that will fuel mass atrocities and genocide. 

The loss of Israeli lives is being used by our government to justify the rush to genocide, to provide moral cover for the immoral push for more weapons and more death. Palestinians are being dehumanized by our own government, by the media, by far too many U.S. Jewish institutions. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that Israel is “fighting human animals” and should “act accordingly,” As Jews, we know what happens when people are called animals.

We can and we must stop this. Never again means never again — for anyone. 

We call on all people of conscience to stop the imminent genocide of Palestinians. We demand our government work towards de-escalation, that it immediately stop sending weapons to the Israeli military. A future of peace and safety for all, grounded in justice, freedom and equality for all, is still the only option.



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