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Image by Anas Baba/Getty Images; Esquire, May 21, 2021

Charles P. Pierce called it a Blindfolded Gunfight. That is as good a way to describe what happened back in the middle of May (Between Terror and Torment). Pierce is blunt and exasperated when he writes:

“Just shut up, all of you. Shut the f#*k up for the love of the living god and keep your hands off each other. Tell us how many of the 243 people you say were killed actually were fighters. Don’t tell us that 225 of the 243 dead people were “militants.” Tell the damn truth. You’re making war on each other, and people die when war is made upon them, and distinctions of age, occupation, and bloody nomenclature don’t matter a damn.

… Netanyahu is an international thug and hoodlum, his government seems bound and determined to fail just as badly and bloodily as any other occupying force always fails, because no occupying force can kill people fast enough to last. The sooner that the world no longer has to deal with a guy who will blow up apartment buildings to a) stay out of jail, and b) stay prime minister, the better. And sending $735 million in arms to his government in the current circumstances?

As for Hamas, they’ve moved into that brainlessly violent phase that comes to every guerrilla outfit that’s past its time. Maybe there was a time when it all made sense, but now it’s one half of a blindfolded gunfight… New leaders with new ideas are desperately needed. And stop killing each other. It doesn’t help.”

There’s an understatement. And can there be a better word picture than a blindfolded gunfight where noncombatants are caught in the crossfire of drive-by shootings?

Never has there been a Victory so Shallow

Closer to the scene of the crime, as it were, are the remarks by Prof. Hillel Frisch (professor of political studies and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies):

“Never has Hamas faced a victory as shallow as the latest round of fighting [Hamas] initiated with Israel, the evidence of which Hamas itself produced.

On the day after the ceasefire, Hamas Internet sites showed a four-minute video of Yahya Sinwar, the Hamas leader of Gaza, appearing in public for the first time since the fighting had begun 12 days before [inviting the public to join the festivities]…

But it failed to materialize. No member of the public — not a single one —  joined in. In the background, cars can be seen driving through and pedestrians walking about without anyone bothering to turn their gaze toward the event.”

Meanwhile the West faces the dilemma of rebuilding Gaza without rearming Hamas as donors are faced with the challenge of helping Gaza without benefitting its militant rulers. Yolande Knell with the BBC reported:

“On his recent visit to Jerusalem and the West Bank, the UK’s Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, told me it was “crucially important” to ensure funds went to “the Palestinian people, to alleviate their plight, and do not drift into the pockets of Hamas”.

According to the UN, in Gaza this conflict destroyed or damaged more than 16,000 homes, along with 58 schools and training centres, nine hospitals, 19 clinics and vital infrastructure.”

An incredible amount of damage! Far in excess of the sling shot bombs that Hamas flung indiscriminately, and now in dire need of rebuilding with limited resources, some often siphoned off by Hamas who get their “hands on a lot of ‘dual-use’ materials and use them for its own military purposes.”

Keeping the Fires of Hatred Burning

As if the Israel destruction was not enough to stoke the fires of hatred for Israel, a recent European Commission report reveals even the Palestinian education system and textbooks encourage violence against Israelis. The Jerusalem Post reported:

“The European Commission kept the report under wraps after receiving it from the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research earlier this year. Brussels directly funds the salaries of teachers and the publication of textbooks, which, the report indicates, encourage and glorify violence against Israelis and Jews.

The report, which is almost 200 pages long, examines 156 textbooks and 16 teachers’ guides. The texts are mostly from 2017-2019 but 18 are from 2020…

The research findings also prove that the EU, even at this very moment, is continuing to invest millions in the funding of the Palestinian Authority’s educational system… with no monitoring of the content that appears in the textbooks, and without demanding that the Palestinian Authority immediately stop indoctrinating its children to hate and kill.”

One wonders what is taught in Israeli schools about itself, its relationship to Palestine, and the Palestinian experience? I know when I was in Israel and asked about why the teachers on school busses carry guns, I was told about the incident when some terrorists killed school children out on a field trip (known as the “Island of Peace Massacre“).

Stories like this both horrify and rationalize a hyper-attention to defence. What parent can stand the possibility of their school children being randomly killed on a field trip? And after this last 11 day battle, we don’t have to imagine the stories Palestinians recount to justify their fears and defensiveness.

And we Wonder

One wonders how the situation would change if they/we taught peace; if they/we taught truth and reconciliation; if they/we taught what their/our own actions does to their/our neighbour (enemy?). What if we just stopped learning about war anymore and did what the prophets say will happen when there is justice (Isaiah 2:4/Micah 4:3):

They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks;

Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

Aaaah – justice. There will be no peace without justice. And who judges? Not Israel; Not Palestine; Not the U.N.. There is but one just Judge for “He shall judge between the nations and shall decide disputes among the peoples.”

Waiting for the World to Change

So here we are waiting. We are waiting to move beyond terror and torment – waiting for the world to change – waiting for justice: