The discussion horses for my Israel and Hamas post are galloping down the road, reins dragging on the road behind them. So let me get a few band aids on my fingers and then say just a few more things here. Might calm everybody right down, or we might get to see another set of horses run.
Galatians 6:1 gives us the principle that when you set out to correct others, you should also be ever mindful of your own temptations. This is a principle that Paul has in mind for life within the body of Christ, but I think it has good applications for situations like this as well. So I don’t go into things like this braced to resist the temptations that Hamas faces, or the temptations that Israel faces. I can resist other people’s temptations all day long and not even break a sweat. But I am a hardline conservative, and this means that one of the things I should keep a weather eye out for is the tendency of certain kinds of conservatives to get a bad case of the Jew thing. That kind of thing happens with discouraging regularity.
Now when I watch for this problem, I am not looking for simple disagreement with Israel, or disagreement with her wars, or objections to Zionism, or disagreement with the dispensational-style support for Israel (which is, as a friend said this morning, a belief that Israel has got to be destroyed in a certain way, and so we must defend her until then). The issue is not the position held. I am not a Zionist. I believe that Jews need Christ in order to be forgiven for their sins, and that if they die without Christ, then they die unforgiven. And I am well aware that in some quarters the mere embrace of such positions makes you de facto anti-Semitic. But the fact that I would be falsely charged with anti-Semitism does not make real anti-Semitism non-existent. Think about it for a minute. It does exist, and it exists in our circles, and it is as repulsive here as it is anywhere. The tell-tale sign is not found in mere disagreement with Israeli policy; the tell-tale sign is to be found in the inability to discuss these things without getting whipped up into a topping suitable for a meringue pie.
And this leads to my second point. It is an undisputed fact that Hamas has been launching rockets into Israeli population centers — thousands of rockets over an extended period of time. Israel says they are doing it, and Hamas says they are doing it. Nobody that I know of is maintaining that Hamas is saying, “Rockets? What rockets?” In the Hamas view of war, such civilians are a legit target. They do not subscribe to just war theory as it has developed in the West. But Israel is constrained by just war theory, along with the customs of the West. Now follow this carefully: This does not mean that Israel in fact conducts all her wars in ways that are in substance just. It is that she acknowledges that she is obliged to. This makes both justice and hypocrisy possible, and I am not saying with regard to any particular military action which one it is.
So my point does not depend at all on the actual righteousness of Israel. If an adversary is launching rockets at your civilians, then you have the right to do what Israel is currently doing, OR you have the right to do what Israel is currently pretending to do. Either way, from where we sit in the nickel seats, Hamas provoked a war and Hamas got one. If Israel is biting and gouging where the ref can’t see . . . well, the ref can’t see.
If Israel’s civilized “just war” behavior is all a pretence, then that is a legitimate subject for discussion, and an investigative reporter should be allowed (at least in our book) to report on it without incurring automatic charges of anti-Semitism. Of course. But such a reporter should be aware of the fact that he is stepping into a large fever swamp full of anti-Semitism, and in order to do his job right, he will have to labor mightily to distinguish himself from the surrounding vitriol. If his report begins: “Dateline Gaza. This afternoon, guided by Satan, the Joos bombed a day care center . . .” then I crave your indulgence if I stop reading right there. If you don’t want to be taken for a whackadoodle, then stop writing like a whackadoodle. If you are sober and sane, then don’t link to crazed sites. If you are crazed yourself, then don’t link to sober and sane sites because chances are a bunch of people will not bother to get past your, um, strangely focused introduction to them.
Suppose a bunch of Israeli generals, with a few winks and nods from the government, said to themselves, “Let’s kill us a bunch of Palestinian civilians while we’re at this. We will call it collateral damage, and tell the weak sisters at the UN that it was a regrettable circumstance of war. But here, at our private cocktail party, we will toast one another on all the women and children we killed on purpose. I mean, absolutely on purpose.” Suppose that kind of thing has gone on. That doesn’t change the public circumstance. Israel still has the public right to do what they are pretending to do. If they are actually doing it, then it is a just response. If they are pretending to do it, then it is unjust — but we, here on the other side of the world, don’t know that. If we hate Jews, we might think we know it in our hearts, but for all the sensations of assurance that might provide, it is still not the same thing.
Now here is the bottom line. Let us suppose the worst over there, which means that Hamas is killing civilians on purpose as a matter of open policy and Israel is killing civilians while laboring mightily to hide that fact from the rest of the world. If Christians over here, purporting to have a biblical worldview, start expressing their sympathy with the open skunks because they are convinced that the hidden skunks are just as bad, then it does not astonish me at all that people don’t want to listen to us.