As Gaza suffers, what are we to think about the conflict?
One perspective comes from our friend, Randy, in his response to our recent post “Say No! to Injustice”:
“Correct, I say NO to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and illegal expansion/exploitation by the State of Israel (directly violating Gen. 18: 17-19) for over 60 years. I call it time for Israel to be brought before the UN ICJ.”
Randy and I agree on many things and respect each another, even if we do not agree on all issues. His comment deserves a response.
This initial post will focus on ethnic cleansing and the illegal expansion and exploitation of the Palestinians. From there we will write a short series of posts on the subject of the “moral equivalence” between Israel and Hamas, and the presence of manifest evil in the tactics of jihadists like ISIS in Iraq and Hamas in Gaza.
It is heartrending to watch the ongoing poverty of the Palestinian people in general. It is particularly grievous to see the current suffering of the people of Gaza. Who can watch the news out of Gaza without grieving the death and injuries among the civilian populations and the physical destruction of their communities, homes and property? It is gut-wrenching especially because it does not have to be this way.
In 1879 US Civil War officer General William T. Sherman said, “War is hell.” Thus has it always been. This latest conflict between Israel and Gaza is hell.
At times in Israel’s history her people have abused others in seeking to establish and maintain a modern homeland. I think specifically of the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians from their homes and communities during the Arab-Israeli War in 1948 by the Haganah, the Jewish defense forces.
In November 1947 the United Nations General Assembly approved the partition of Palestine, providing for the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel and the Arab state of Palestine. With some reservations, the Jews accepted this partition while the Arab states generally rejected it.
On May 14, 1948, the day before the end of 50 years of British Mandate for Palestine, Israel established itself as an independent state in the land granted by the UN partition. Almost immediately the combined armies of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq attacked Israel. Their goal was to drive the Jews from their ancient homeland.
To everyone’s surprise the Arab armies were defeated by the ragtag Israeli defense forces. By defeating the Arab armies, the Jews expanded their holdings to include about a third of the partition land that had been granted to the Palestinians. As a result, the Palestinians were left with the West Bank of the Jordan River and the Gaza strip.
The Arab nations had expected to win a quick and decisive victory over the Jews. In view of that expectation, they encouraged the Palestinians to flee their homes and then return upon the defeat of Israel. But most of the Palestinians who fled or were forcefully displaced ended up in exile in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and other lands.
But that is only half the story. While 700,000 Arabs were displaced from Israel, at the same time, about 750,000 Jews were forced to leave Arab lands where they had lived for generations. These fled to the new Jewish state of Israel.
So there is some substance to Randy’s claim. But I assume he would acknowledge that the situation between Israel and Gaza is complex. Yes, injustices have been perpetrated on both sides. But I do not mean to imply moral equivalence between Hamas and Israel.
Before elaborating on that last point, it’s important to distinguish between Muslim peoples on the one hand, and radical Islamists/Jihadists on the other. Most Muslims, like other citizens of the world, want to live in peace and raise their families. But the Jihadists, or Islamists, want to return to the world of the prophet Mohammed. A minority of Muslims are militants who want to renew the march of Islam to establish a global caliphate governed by Sharia law. The militant Hamas leaders are a different breed than the typical Palestinian civilian.
Randy accused the Israelis of ethnic cleansing. I do not regard this an accurate description of what is happening on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. Ethnic cleansing is the intentional, systematic, forced removal – through intimidation, torture, deportation, and mass murder – of religious or ethnic groups from a territory.
As I write, ISIS is marching through Iraq, ethnically cleansing hundreds of thousands, even millions of people as they go. The church that has existed in Iraq since the Apostle Thomas brought the gospel nearly 2000 years ago is decimated. In the last week, ISIS has turned its attention on the Yezidis, a 4,000-year-old ethnic/religious minority community in Kurdistan numbering between 300,000 – 700,000. In a matter of a few days, hundreds of thousands have fled their homes. As I write these words thousands are dying of dehydration and starvation in the arid Sinjar mountains where they have fled for their lives.
Jihadists are also rooting out Christians in Syria, another church that dates its founding to New Testament times. This is ethnic cleansing in all of its horrors. Recently I saw a picture of a six or seven-year-old Syrian girl whose headless body was dressed in her “Sunday best.” A beheaded child! One can hardly imagine such evil. This is terror on its most basic level.
In addition to Iraq and Syria, persecution of Christians in the Muslim world is occurring in places like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran.
Islamists are not killing Christians only. Their goal is to rid the world, not simply the Middle East, of Jews.
A hatred of Christians and Jews dates back to Mohammed’s move from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD. But as recently as World War II, the Grand Mufti in Jerusalem, Amin el-Husseini, aligned himself with the Axis Powers and worked in collaboration with Hitler and the Third Reich.
Hitler and el-Husseini shared a vision for the extermination of the Jews. In November of 1943 he stated:
It is the duty of Muhammadans in general and Arabs in particular to … drive all Jews from Arab and Muhammadan countries … . Germany is also struggling against the common foe who oppressed Arabs and Muhammadans in their different countries. It has very clearly recognized the Jews for what they are and resolved to find a definitive solution [endgültige Lösung] for the Jewish danger that will eliminate the scourge that Jews represent in the world. ….”
In modern times, there is a direct link between Hitler’s Third Reich and the war in Gaza. Nazi anti-Semitism was passed on to the political/spiritual descendants of el-Husseini, the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas in Gaza. Written into the Hamas charter is the clear and unequivocal statement that Israel is to be obliterated: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” What Hitler began in Europe, Hamas and other Jihadists want to finish in the Middle East: the destruction of Israel and the extermination of Jews from the world.
The application of the term “ethnic cleansing” to Israel is certainly inappropriate as we watch ethnic cleansing being defined by ISIS before our very eyes. The brutality and intensity of the slaughter of innocents is the manifestation of evil.
– Darrow Miller
NOTE: We rarely solicit funds at Darrow Miller and Friends. However, if you have been moved by the plight of ethnic cleansing among Christians and Yezidis in Northern Iraq, and want a way to help, here are a couple of worthy avenues. My friends, Dr. George Grant and Dave Dillard, have been working in northern Iraq for some 15 years and have contacts with the church in Kurdistan. If you want to help, see the links below. These will provide you, or your church, a way to get resources to those who are suffering. Please pass this information on to your friends. And please pray.
 Mattar, Philip (1984). “Al-Husayni and Iraq’s quest for independence, 1939-1941”. Arab Studies Quarterly 6 (4). pp. 267–281