On Genocide and Jesus

NOTE: I write only to those who claim to be Christian. If you want to read Jewish authors who find Israel's actions abhorrent, check out A Dangerous Conflation: An open letter from Jewish writers

The news of October 7th was horrifying. Hamas, a Palestinian Sunni Islamist political and military organization governing the Gaza Strip, had launched a brutal and deadly attack against the state of Israel.

The early reports spoke of the murder of innocent Israelis attending a music festival, the killing of Israeli settlers and taking of hostages, and the mass rape of Israeli women. There were also reports of babies being beheadedvictims of brutality almost beyond the human imagination. Even President Biden mentioned this horrific "fact"which turned out to be a liewhen declaring the United States' unwavering support for Israel.

And I watched...knowing what would come next.

The Israeli military began carpet bombing Gazaa 25-mile strip of land that is (or was) home to 2+million people, half of whom are children.

A war is a conflict between two countries with armies.  This is not that.

Note: I started this post on December 9th and have struggled to finish it. As of today, January 2, 2024, the death toll for Palestinians in Gaza is 22,885. Of the victims, 70% are women and children.


This is the point where I am obliged to say that what Hamas did was barbaric.

I shouldn't have to say this, because it couldand shouldrightly be assumed that I would condemn violence against innocent civilians. Condemn violence period. But standing up for Palestinians now automatically makes one suspector a target.

In the United States, we allegedly operate under the presumption that the accused are innocent until proven guilty.

Of course, we all knowor should knowthat this assumption is predicated upon the skin color and socioeconomic status of the accused. And knowing that Palestinian people are brown, poor, and Muslim, one could have predicted that people in the United States would not grant them that presumption of innocence.
They did not.

In general, Americans are inclined to attribute all sorts of horrible things to Muslims. We are quick to believe any claim of horrific behavior by Muslims because we have been fed the story that they are terrorists all of our lives.

And this makes us equally quick to dismiss the claim that those we support (individuals and nations, including our own) could ever be guilty of atrocities.

This leaves us not only open to emotional and political manipulation but perfectly prepared for it.

And I saw this happen in real time to people I have loved and admired for years. People I actually believed to be following in the way of Jesusuntil I saw the Israeli flag appear in their social media posts and heard their declarations that they weren't interested in the thoughts or friendship of people who saw the Israeli attack on Gaza for what it plainly is: genocide.

The loss of those friendships, however, was a minor tragedy in the overall context:

CONTENT WARNING: Images of dead and badly injured children. Don't click if you don't want to see the carnage your tax dollars are wreaking on little ones who had nothing to do with the Hamas attack.


And for those who will cry "propaganda!!" and blame Hamas, I will just point out two significant facts....
First, Israel is the only entity targeting journalistswho are protected under the Geneva Conventions. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, as of today (January 2, 2024):
  • 77 journalists and media workers were confirmed dead: 56 Palestinian, 4 Israeli, and 3 Lebanese.
  • 16 journalists were reported injured.
  • 3 journalists were reported missing.
  • 21 journalists were reported arrested.
  • Multiple assaults, threats, cyberattacks, censorship, and killings of family members.
Second, this is not World War II, where people had to wait for "official" footage. We are watching Palestinians being slaughtered in REAL TIME.

This is the reason the Powers That Be in the United States are so desperate to ban platforms like TikTokbecause through them, we can see young people filming their own deaths as the bombs rain down. We see the devastation caused by Israel bombing HOSPITALSanother violation of the Geneva Conventions and something Israel tries to defend by saying Hamas is headquartering itself underneath those buildings.

The Mossad, Israel's intelligence service, is widely considered the best in the world. They should have the capacity to do targeted raids without destroying innocent civilians and obliterating infrastructure.

In fact, they should have seen this coming...
I told more than one person on October 7th that we would eventually learn that Netanyahu KNEW about the Hamas planand let it happen so that he could obliterate the Palestinian people and take what little bit of land they have left.
And now we know that the Israeli military and political leadership knew about the attack plans a year ago and did nothing.

Now we turn to the gaslighting cries of "Antisemite!" aimed at those of us who are critical of the Israeli government for this carnageand the U.S. government for funding it.

Some background....when I was 8 years old, I stumbled across a book on the Holocaust in the public library.

That was a lot for a 3rd grader to take in. It was the first time I was exposed to all the horrors that humans can inflict on each other. I remember the flush that spread over my body as I looked at pictures from which even hardened adults avert their eyes.

I don't think it's too far out there to say that this discovery changed the course of my life.

For one thing, it made me acutely aware of the need for "normal people" to stand up when leaders began pushing for hate and harm against scapegoated groups of "others."

It made me determined that I would not be like those who participated gleefully in genocide.

And it made me a supporter of the state of Israel. Once I learned the long and sordid history of the persecution of Jewish people by nearly everyone, it made perfect sense to me why Jewish people would want a state of their own and would defend it so fiercely.

All I had to do was look back at the photos of those piles of naked, emaciated, massacred Jewish bodiesincluding women, children, the elderly, and the disabled.

But that was a long time ago. Before I learned about the Nakbawhich began in 1948 and has never ended. 
Before I realized that Israel had became the mirror image of the German and Polish and Ukrainian governments who hunted Jewish people like animals and took delight in torturing and degrading them before slaughtering them. 

Before I learned that the state of Israel was torturing and killing Palestinians without consequences, bulldozing their homes to make way for illegal Israeli settlements, and pushing them into an open-air prison in order to take what little land they had left.

Before Israel made Gaza the new Warsaw ghetto.


Now, of course, it is becoming de riguer for Zionists to insist that anti-Zionism is indistinguishable from antisemitism.

It's an understandable argument. Antisemitism is as much a part of white, Western cultural DNA as racism, sexism, and every other "-ism" and "-phobia" that plagues and diminishes us. 

But it's ludicrous to see groups like the Anti-Defamation League label Jewish groups calling for an end to the hostilities against Palestinians as "antisemitic." Suddenly, showing even the most basic human decency gets you labeled as "self-hating" if you happen to be Jewish or told that you are supporting the extermination of the Jewish people by calling for a ceasefire so that innocent civilians can live another day.

George Orwelland Joseph Goebbelswould recognize this manipulation of language quite well.

So where does Jesus come into this nightmare?
Those of us who claim to follow Jesus are all subject to the temptation to believe that he hates everyone we do. But, for what it's worth, the biblical record makes short work of that belief.
  • Jesus healed the daughter of the Canaanite womanafter he called her a dog and she had the moxie to say "Even the dogs eat from the master's table."

  • Jesus healed the servant (most likely lover) of the Roman centurioneven though Rome was the mortal enemy of the Jewish people in those days.

  • Jesus gave the good news to the Samaritan woman at the welldespite the fact that she was part of an ethnic group roundly despised by Jewish people and had been in 7 different marriages/relationships with men.

  • Jesus hung out with all the folks that white American "Christians" don't even see, much less socialize withlike the sex workers and the drug dealers of his day, and those with health issues so terrible that people around them insisted they wear "masks" so that no one had to look at their ravaged, leprous faces.

  • When Jesus was being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter pulled out his sword and chopped off the right ear of the High Priest's slave, Malchus, in a foolhardy attempt to protect his Lord. Jesus scolded Peter, then healed Malchushis last miracle, used on the slave of a man who wanted him dead.

  • And on the crossthat cross that we wear around our necks, genuflect to, and sometimes idolizeJesus choked out the words, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Unasked-for forgiveness. Absolution without repentance or amendment of life. For deicide.
When I look at these multiple attestations to Jesus's mercy and grace, I am left wondering how anyone can believe that Jesus would sign-on to the bombing of innocent civiliansso many of them children?

Remember when Jesus said "Suffer the little children to come unto me"? Did you really think that use of "suffer" was literal?

And do you think Jesus will pat you on the back when you meet him face-to-face and say "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" for your support for those jets and those bombs and the suffering and death of innocents?

"But, but, but....Hamas! Terrorists! Evil!" you shout. As if people cannot recognize a disproportionate response and a massively unequal display of force when they see one.
As if we cannot see that treating people like animals for decades will make them hate you enough to do reprehensible things in retaliation. (Not an excuse, btwjust basic psychology.)

As if the entire point of the Gospels has magically disappeared.
Jesus never expressed a desire to do exactly what everyone who called him "Messiah" before Gethsemane wanted him to do. Declare war. Totally annihilate the enemy standing in the way of God's chosen people. Destroy the Amalekitesleaving no one left to hold a grudge and seek revenge decades later. Obliterate the "human animals" with the audacity to believe they too have a right to land and life.

No. Jesusthe brown Palestinian Jewish peacenikwas clear he wanted no part of that. Forgive your enemies 70 x7, he said. "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." "Do good to those who hate you."
Allow yourself to be tortured and nailed to a cross before you choose violence.

There's a lesson there, if only we would choose to learn it.

I mentioned above that I have struggled to finish this post. I've written over 2,000 words and as I reread the draft, I find that it rambles, leaves out so much that I want to say, and has no satisfactory conclusion.
But I'm going to post it anyway, because silence is complicity andto honor the lesson I learned in that library so long agoI need to make it clear where I stand:
  • Violence is abhorrent no matter who commits it—and proportionality matters.

  • Christians have a particular obligation to condemn violence and work to end it. That includes ensuring that all people are free to live and thrivementally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

  • Free Palestine.