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No Peace Without Justice.

The savage killing of a Jewish family by a Palestinian Arab in the Israeli settlement of Itamar in the West Bank, evoked feelings of disgust, anger and sorrow in all who care about justice. This was not the first time that deadly attacks on settlers have occurred in this settlement.

What has not been reported is the massive crackdown that has been inflicted on West Bank Arabs by Israeli forces since the attack. The Israeli military raided homes and arrested around 300 people (did they really have 300 suspects for the attack?) as well as many instances of Israeli settlers taking revenge on innocent Palestinians who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (which means all of them at every time according to the doctrines of religious Zionists be they Christian or Jewish). Nor is the fact that Palestinian deaths at the hands of the I.D.F. and Israeli settlers (of whom the Palestinian Authority has no power over) occur on a regular basis in the West Bank and greatly outnumber the amount of Israelis who are killed by Palestinians. The Israeli Government has responded to recent attempts to be more reasonable in peace negotiations with the Palestinians by saying that they are “in no mood to talk of peace while they are burying their dead”. Palestinians, however, are expected to comply with any demand with regards to the peace process regardless of the fact that they are continually burying their dead, or be labeled as obstructionist.

On February 25th 1994, (the day celebrating the feast of Purim that year) Baruch Goldstien entered the Cave of the Patriarchs where Muslims were gathered in prayer. He proceeded to murder 29 of them and wounded a further 125. Purim has long been a day of celebration whereby extremist Zionists in the West Bank in particular feel they are entitled to vent their hatred of Arabs.The Israeli Government totally condemned the act but the extremist settler community still hail Goldstien as a hero. Goldstien was killed by Muslim worshipers who grappled with him, disarmed him and beat him to death. At Goldstien’s funeral, Rabbi Yaacov Perrin celebrated the achievements of the slain gunmen saying that “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.” In the rioting that followed, 25 more Palestinians and 5 Israelis lost their lives.

Such is the brutal legacy of the violence and hatred that is the reality of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. I wonder if we can really be surprised by this legacy given the nature of these settlements. The burning sense of injustice felt by Palestinians who have, for 4 decades, watched while their homelands have been taken from them is met head on by the almost insane zeal of extremist settlers whose sense of entitlement to the land outweighs all other considerations. The settlements show in stark detail the reality of the consequences of colonialism however it is justified in the minds of those who consider that they have an entitlement to that which does not belong to them. I challenge anyone to read the websites of the extremist settlers in the West Bank and see if they are any different in their insanity and violence to even the most militant Islamist group.

Recently the U.S. had another chance to put pressure on the Israelis to end settlement construction in the West Bank, but once again they failed to act. How can the Palestinians feel anything but betrayal and abandonment by the West when the worlds only superpower will not move a finger to help them against Israel whom has violated some 69 U.N. resolutions while at the same time the U.S. attacks Arab countries that have broken only one decree of the United Nations?

We need to seriously ask our leaders to explain what kind of just solution to the Israel-Palestine they would be willing to submit to if they were the Palestinians. Or maybe we need to give up on our leaders and mobilize ourselves to bring justice and peace to the Middle East. The provocative nature of the settlements will not ease or disappear. Even Ronald Reagan recognised that they were an impediment to the peace process. The U.S. can not have it both ways. They can not continue to veto U.N. resolutions declaring settlement construction to be illegal and still pretend that they disapprove of that same provocative activity.

The legacy of hatred, violence and injustice that has been the inevitable consequence of Israeli expansionism in territories never allotted to them by God or the international community can only end when our desire for justice for all people outweighs all other considerations.

Craig Nielsen

Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict

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May 2023