Two things can be true at the same time, for instance what Hamas did on October 7 of this year was horrific and should be condemned. The blatant brutality of butchering children, the elderly and innocent people and then randomly snatching innocent people off the street and holding them as hostages was wrong.
However, what the Zionist state of Israel has been doing in its aftermath is also horrific and must be condemned as well.
To bomb innocent people, hospitals and the very path that people were told to take to evacuate is just wrong.
At last count over ten thousand innocent Palestinians, which includes children and the elderly, have been wiped off the face of the earth by bombs.
Two things can be true at the same time, for instance just as Hamas does not represent the majority of Palestinian people, the Government of Israel does not represent all Jewish people.
There have been both inside Israel and outside Israel and even here in the United States, protests by thousands of mostly Jewish people who are a part of the “Not In Our Name” movement calling for a ceasefire.
There were over 400 Jewish people arrested at NYC’s Grand Central Station a few weeks ago protesting and demanding that the United States and President Biden call for Israel to cease fire so that humanitarian help can attend to the wounded, dislocated and homeless.
These are voices from the Jewish community who want peace and a ceasefire. You cannot bomb for peace.
If the Christian community, and in particular the Black church community, can do anything, it is to speak about peace. Call for peace. Advocate for peace.
Innocent civilians, whether Jewish civilians or Palestinian civilians, should never be casualties of war.
Jewish life is precious, and Palestinian lives are precious and all must be protected. This is about life. This is about preserving the lives of people both in Israel and in Gaza who are trying their best under difficult circumstances that they did not create, to just find meaning, safety and wholeness in their lives.
This conflict in Northeast Africa, because there is in reality no such thing as the “Middle East,” is not about some knee jerk belief in a misinterpreted biblical prophecy. This is not about the coming of the end of the world or the return of Jesus Christ. This is all the beautiful potential in the lives of Jewish children and Palestinian children being hardened with hate and traumatized by unnecessary violence.
This conflict is the latest in a long line of tensions and encroachments that have been simmering for a long time. If people who claim to follow that Northeast African Palestinian Jew by the name of Jesus of Nazareth are serious, then the pursuit of peace must be the priority and that can only begin by a ceasefire, because too many innocent lives have already been lost.
Too many Jewish lives and too many Palestinian lives, lost. In my article last week, I quoted Jesus who told Peter, after Peter violently cut off the ear of the temple guard, “Enough of this.”
Today I want to close with Jesus who gave us a high standard in his sermon on the mount when he said, “Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” He did not say, “Blessed are the Peacekeepers…” because what we have now will never end peacefully, but we can try to insert the ideal that life is too precious to be wantonly blown to bits.
Peacemakers are courageous enough to stand against the trends of revenge and bitterness to point to a better way where every life is seen as valuable.
Peacemakers have enough compassion and insight to see that demonizing any group of people based on their religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity or complexion is devaluing humanity itself, which in turn disrespects the God we say we believe in.
The Peacemaker’s clarion call is the same choice that Dr. King declared in his lifetime when he said, “we will either live together as brothers [and sisters] or perish together as fools.”
By the way, a Jewish Rabbi by the name of Abraham Joshua Heschel once spoke these words concerning Dr. King, “Where in America today do we hear a voice like the voice of the prophets of Israel? Martin Luther King is a sign that God has not forsaken the United States of America. God has sent him to us. His presence is the hope of America.”
That’s what Rabbi Heschel said about the peacemaking presence of that “Drum Major for Peace,” who courageously and compassionately spoke out against the war in Vietnam.
His voice echoed the spirit of that Jewish Palestinian from Nazareth, Jesus, who declared, “Blessed are the Peacemakers for they shall be called children of God,” and that’s the kind of voice we need now more than ever.
In fact, those voices are being heard from many Jewish and Palestinian communities together who may not make the news, but they are quickly becoming a crescendo of comfort as they call for peace for those who are the most vulnerable and helpless in times of war. Can we not do the same?
Rev. John E. Jackson
Rev. Dr. John E. Jackson, Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ-Gary, 1276 W. 20th Ave. in Gary. “We are not just another church but we are a culturally conscious, Christ-centered church, committed to the community; we are unashamedly Black and unapologetically Christian.”