Peace and War

A couple of years ago my wife traveled in Europe with People to People International and enjoyed herself immensely. Along the way, she had interesting conversations with people that she otherwise would never have met. But one of the things that startled her about Europe was the prevalence of graffiti, and how much of it was anti-Semitic or Nazi-themed. So not all of her conversations were pleasant, unfortunately.

Thanks to modern communication, it was easy for my wife and I to stay in contact. One night she shared a brief conversation she’d had with a young woman in her early twenties. The young woman commented on the war between Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah, then wondered if it might not be better for the world and for the Jews if Israel simply didn’t exist. “Then no one would be mad at the Jews.”

My wife and I were shocked. Are there really people out there that are so clueless about history that they could speak such idiocy? Obviously. And if one makes a search on the web, one will discover a surprising number of people who agree with that young woman. And most of them are not posting on neo-Nazi web sites. There is simply a widespread sense that maybe it really is Israel’s fault, and Israel needs to stop being so aggressive. “Can’t we all just get along?”

First, for the young woman’s musings to make any sense, ignorance of the last 2000 years of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust is required—you know, stuff that happened when there was no Israel. And then there are more recent events to consider. Let’s see. Israel pulled out of Lebanon back in 2000. They gave Egypt back the Sinai around 1980, returning to Egypt the only oil wells that they had. Then Israel pulled out of the Gaza entirely. And how was Israel treated as a consequence? Hezbollah shot rockets at them from the north. Hamas shot rockets at them from the south. On a daily basis. But Israel was just supposed to take it.

I’m sure that Italy, for instance, would just quietly sit back if Switzerland started shooting rockets at farmers and townspeople along the border and kidnapped a few Italian soldiers and then killed a few others. And they wouldn’t mind at all if Swiss terrorists snuck in and started blowing themselves up in public places. Right? And the world would condemn Italy for even feeling the least annoyed about it.

When Hamas, Hezbollah, and the PLO talk about “occupied territory” they mean all of Israel: Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, Eilot, and the kibbutz I worked on that was built in 1932. The PLO was founded in 1964, three years before Israel took the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai and Golan Heights in the Six Day War (a war, incidentally, that happened because Egypt, Syria and Jordan attacked Israel from three sides all at once. Israel won. They lost).

Jordan and Egypt had occupied the West Bank and Gaza, respectively, up until 1967. No terrorist had ever attacked the Jordanians or the Egyptians while they occupied the Palestinian territory. No UN resolutions were ever issued decrying this “occupation.” The Palestinians never spoke of being oppressed.

But now, somehow, it’s all Israel’s fault.

And do the Europeans, or the other leaders of the world so quick to decry Israeli “occupation” ever issue criticisms of the anti-Semitism preached daily on the TV, radio, newspapers, classrooms, and mosques of the Arab world? Do they ever condemn the targeting of Israelis and Jews in their shopping centers and restaurants and homes? How often have those who so quickly condemn Israel, condemned Hamas or Hezbollah, or anyone else for killing Jews? I don’t recall hearing all that much. The UN condemns Israel every chance it gets—in fact, Israel has been condemned by the UN more than any other country, and by a wide margin.

But those who kill Jews, those who repress women, those who restrict the press and religious freedoms of millions, there’s rarely a word even mentioning them. The Europeans prefer to trade the Jews for oil. Peace at any price, especially if the price is only the Jews they hate anyhow.

It’s all anti-Semitism in the UN and the capitals of the world. Nothing more, nothing less. And it’s nothing new. For 2000 years Europe has been condemning the Jews, blaming the Jews for every thing that ever goes wrong, wondering if the world would be better if they were just gone. So it’s not a surprise that they’re still at it. They have lots of practice.
Hezbollah, Hamas, the PLO and the jihadists are the bad guys. Not Israel. How many women do the Muslim extremists have to keep in burkas, how many heads do they have to chop off, how many buses and schools do they have to blow up, how much more killing do they need to do, how much more do they have to restrict the freedom of speech and religion of millions before the world figures out who the bad guys are and who the good guys are?

It’s insane. Israel is criticized for building houses, while the world is silent to daily rocket attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza. Hamas and the PLO regularly publish anti-Semitic diatribes that would make Nazis blush, deny the right of the Israel to exist and yet Israel, who has given up territory is the one standing in the way of peace, even while rockets and bullets stream from the Palestinian-controlled areas.

I’d like to see some of the critics of Israel try to open a Bible in a Moslem country. See how far they get. And if the critic is a woman, let’s see her try to drive a car, or even walk about without a man guiding her, or to try wearing something comfortable and reasonable. Compare how the women dress on the beaches of Tel-Aviv versus the beaches of Gaza.

Oddly, there was criticism of Israel for striking power plants, bridges, roads, and the Beirut airport during their war with Hezbollah. I don’t understand that kind of criticism. That’s the way war works. Israel wanted to isolate Hezbollah and Hamas and to keep those who would resupply them from doing so. They also want to keep the bad guys from slipping away. Israel is trying to destroy the terrorists. Have critics never read military history? Do they never watch the History Channel? Have they never watched a war movie? There’s nothing at all odd in what Israel is doing against their enemies. It’s what they need to do. It’s the way war works. They have peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. They don’t have them with anyone else in the region. In fact, everyone else in the region is still officially at war with Israel.

How hard is this to understand? While there are always two sides to every story, that doesn’t mean the two sides are morally equivalent. Sometimes there really are good guys and bad guys. So go ahead, pick which side you want to be on. Sometimes it’s really not so tough.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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One Response to Peace and War

  1. It’s hard NOT to attribute this persistent blindness to willful anti-Semitism.

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