Mark Wingfield, executive director and publisher of Baptist News Global, has written an analysis of the current war between Israel and Hamas. I am quoted in it along with others who share similar and different perspectives.
The analogy Ashlee Wiest-Laird shared in Wingfield’s piece is appropriate. Nobody should expect people whose land has been stolen, who’ve been locked in a room of their house, denied basic protections and civil rights, attacked at will by a stronger, U.S.- financed, stocked and cheered military that is the fourth largest in the world, and whose 75-year plea for justice has been belittled, to decide that fighting their way out of the hellish place they have been forced into is unreasonable.
I wrote an article for Baptist News Global in May of this year to mark the 75th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba (meaning “catastrophe”) that provides the historical context for the war now being fought by Israeli forces against Hamas militants. Mind you, Israel is a nation-state. Hamas is one militant faction in the Palestinian liberation effort.
Deplore war all we may, eventually people who’ve suffered oppression without satisfactory recourse through peaceful means will embrace violent means to determine their own destiny rather than continue suffering oppression. As President John F. Kennedy said in 1962, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
As someone who has visited the region, who studied political science, who served in the U.S. military and who knows that the U.S. defense and intelligence establishment provides a security guarantee for Israeli land theft, mineral theft, human rights and international law violations, apartheid, and genocide against Palestinians, I know that the Israeli-Hamas war was inevitable. Palestinians have the moral, legal and political right to not be invaded and terrorized by Israeli settlers.
They have the right to conduct their affairs free from Israeli military occupation. And they have the right to defend themselves against U.S.-subsidized and Israeli-perpetrated apartheid and genocide. Only moral, ethical, cultural and political incompetence prevents people from saying so.
The Hamas offensive also shows that the U.S.-Israeli intelligence and defense community can be out-smarted in 2023 as much as the U.S. intelligence and defense establishment was outsmarted and out-maneuvered in 2001. Instead of 19 deadly combatants armed with box cutters, U.S. and Israeli defense and intelligence experts are now clamoring to play catch up to Hamas militants who used paragliders to initiate coordinated air (missile), ground and naval operations with striking effectiveness against the fourth largest military in the world.
We should deplore the casualties that have occurred and will continue in Gaza, Israel and across Palestine. Nevertheless, we should also acknowledge that Hamas exposed the folly and moral lunacy of the 75-year U.S.-European-led diplomatic, military, intelligence, cultural strategy concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Rational people understand that when oppression cannot be stopped by nonviolent means, people will eventually turn to violent means to do so.
However, the prerogative of moral violence has always been considered the exclusive right of white people. Israel followed the lead of other white imperialists and colonizers since the western Christian Church established the idolatrous and blasphemous 15th-century Doctrine of Discovery.
The key difference is that Zionist zealotry—rather than Christian missionary zealotry— is the excuse given for Israeli imperialism and colonialism in Palestine. Israeli Zionist imperialism and colonialism and Euro-American imperialism and colonialism are merely different sides of the same white supremacist hateful faith coin.
I now repeat what I told Mark Wingfield (although I mistakenly mentioned Iran when I intended to refer to Iraq). The history of pro-Israeli sentiment in this society is deep and strong. I attribute some of it to racism.
Israel is a white enclave in the otherwise darker-complexioned Middle East. Add the premillennialism of “Left Behind” U.S. evangelical fundamentalism along with Zionism and the picture is almost complete—save for one more salient, yet over-arching reality few people in the U.S. seem to discern.
In Israel, the U.S. has a robust capitalist society and a nuclear-armed, fully subsidized intelligence and military force that openly violates international law and human rights norms with impunity in a region where the petroleum industry has craved a security guarantee. Think of Israel as the petroleum industry’s biggest and most expensive private security contractor, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers.
Long before the U.S. entered the morass of Vietnam, the country chose neocolonialism as the way to extend its military, political, commercial and cultural influence by forging a client-state relationship with Israel. That approach collapsed in Vietnam, Iraq and most recently in Afghanistan. The Israeli experiment is the longest running client-state operation of the U.S. intelligence community and perhaps the most expensive.
Mark Wingfield is correct. Most U.S. media outlets will not cover the Israeli-Hamas war with this historical, ideological and theological context— if they even mention it at all.
The Biden administration, like every other U.S. administration since the Truman, is following U.S. policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian dispute that has been skewed in favor of Israel and against Palestinians for 75 years. The bitter truth is that we lack the discernment to realize this historical, ideological and theological foundation for the Israeli-Hamas war.
We also lack the moral and ethical courage to admit these factors. Consequently, we are unable to summon the political will to change our ways. Until these things change, there will be no peace in Israel, Palestine and Gaza.
Remember: no justice, no peace, only a worsening Nakba of violence, cruelty, suffering, death, and sorrow for Israel, Palestine and Gaza.
We can pray for God to help all sides choose a better way. Sadly, they have stopped praying to the God of justice and peace.
All sides now are praying to and serving the god of war.
Pastor at New Millennium Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, a retired state court trial judge, a trustee of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, author of one book and three blogs, a consultant on cultural competency and inclusion, and a contributing correspondent at Good Faith Media.