First Pray for Israel, then Peace
Jay B. Gaskill
As a Judeo-Christian, I firmly believe in the right of the State of Israel to thrive in peace within defensible borders. As a moral realist, I understand what the actual conditions of survival entail when you are living amid a sea of resentment-intoxicated peoples, temporarily unhinged by a malevolent ideology masquerading as a religion of peace.
Therefore, I must completely dissociate myself from the pacifist strain of Christianity that has repeatedly called for Israel to retreat, to refrain from proactive self defense and ultimately … to risk immolation.
These otherwise good hearted souls are deeply confused.
Ambivalence toward the truly evil, and passivity in the face of the real, existential threats it poses to the good and the innocent souls among us is so profoundly wrong as to border on evil itself.
The current struggle is far more serious than Israel’s putative friends in Europe seem to acknowledge. How could it be otherwise when thousands of Israeli children (a large plurality of all Israeli children) are going to bed tonight in bomb shelters? How could it be otherwise when the bombing and missile attacks (hundreds of missiles, one attack barely missing Shimon Perez) are being orchestrated by the proxies (Hezbollah and Hamas) of a terrorist nation state (Iran) and its terrorist puppet regime (Syria), both of which seek Israel’s ultimate destruction? How could it be otherwise when the nation of Israel, having been resurrected in 1947 under the aegis of the United Nations with the support of Europeans, is now on the verge of being abandoned by those same “friends”? These are the same European states (excluding England) that were complicit through cowardice and denial when the holocaust was perpetrated on their own soil. The “resurrection” of this same pattern of cowardice and denial is dangerous beyond all measure.
I note that Hamas, the terrorist group that infects the nascent Palestinian democracy, has the following explicit aims:
“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it. “The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.
And I cannot help note with a sense of disgust the position of leftist, Noam Chomsky, who visited Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in May. Professor Chomsky branded the US and Israel as “terrorist” states and supported arming the Hezbollah. “I think that Nasrallah has a reasoned argument and a persuasive argument that they (the weapons) should be in the hands of Hizbollah…”
We have now seen what those weapons can do…
So we should pray for the swift success of the Israeli Defense Forces in this crisis, for the continued support of Israel by the US, and for the ultimate defeat of all the forces that have aligned themselves against the prospect of a peaceful, safe and thriving Israel. It is no coincidence that these same forces wish us grave harm and seek to overthrow the institutions that protect religious liberty and the blessing of civility everywhere.
God save and protect the people of Israel, the people of the United States of America and all those peoples who stand for the peaceful coexistence of religions in the context of civil society.
Copyright © 2006 Jay B. Gaskill
July 19, 2006
A Personal Footnote:
While I also count myself among the members of the worldwide Anglican Communion, I must nevertheless dissociate myself (with great respect) from the implication of neutrality implied in some of the sentiments recently expressed by Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.
I have reproduced the Archbishop’s letter to the Churches in Lebanon of July 19, 2006, adding my own emphasis where the passage links to my personal comments set out at the end.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006, Writing to the Heads of Churches in the Lebanon, Dr. Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury said:
The Heads of Churches in Lebanon
Grace and Peace from the Lord Jesus Christ at this traumatic time for you and the people of Lebanon.
Today, as thousands of foreign passport-holders are evacuated from Beirut, I am only too conscious of the plight of those, from all communities, who have no place of refuge from the violence that has been unleashed. It pains us all greatly to see again the ancient Christian communities of the Middle East fleeing the land where they have borne witness for two millennia and to contemplate the hardships that will be faced by those who stay.
I have been alarmed at the spiral of violence, the vicious circle of attack and retaliation that has developed over the last few days. My prayers and sympathy are with the principal victims, the innocent civilians on both sides of the border, who now live in terror and are powerless to prevent the collective suffering at the hands of at the hands of Hizballah and the Israeli military. The distress felt at the destruction not only of life but also the infrastructure so painstakingly rebuilt after years of conflict will, I know, be acute and reinforce the sense of helplessness at being caught up in a wider regional struggle. My condemnation of this resort to violence is unequivocal. I offer you every support in your efforts to bring it to an end and allow Lebanon to be, once again, a living message of co-existence and solidarity between different religious communities.
Remembering the times we have met, even recently, I look forward to the chance to do so again in calmer times – either here or in >Lebanon.
Although our Christian message may seem, in these dark days, a small voice in a terrible wilderness of suffering it is delivered in the confidence that God’s purposes for us and his people will prevail and that purpose is one of peace, harmony and reconciliation.
May our Lord Jesus Christ give you, as chief pastors of his flock, every strength and blessing in your ministry.
Surely, all civilized peoples who wish to live together in shared peace and freedom will also share the good Archbishop’s compassion for the innocent victims of violence; all will devoutly hope for the return of peaceful times; and all will support the conditions under which there can be “co-existence and solidarity between different religious communities”.
To these sentiments, the response of people of good will everywhere is a heartfelt amen.
But I must respectfully disaffirm any implication of a moral equivalence between the opposing parties in this life-death struggle:
The Archbishop wrote that “My condemnation of this resort to violence is unequivocal”.
But any effort at “unequivocal condemnation” can become a functional moral equivocation if it appears to place prospective mass murderers and those who take action to prevent the murder of innocents on the same moral plane.
I see an inference of equivalence in the Archbishop’s letter because the condemnation followed a mischaracterization of the Israeli self defense actions as “retaliation”. This is a bit like condemning firefighters who not only contain the immediate flames, but proactively attack the source of the fire in order to forestall even greater devastation. Protection is both more than and less than retaliation.
And the Archbishop’s condemnation was made after having blamed both sides (apparently equally) for the human damage. The Archbishop wrote that the suffering in Lebanon was accomplished “at the hands of” both a terrorist organization dedicated to genocide and to the duly constituted military sworn to protect its population from that very fate. To me, the choice of the vivid words, “at the hands of”, strongly suggests a moral parallelism.
We can’t know whether the implication moral equivalence in this letter was intended, or was an accident of the language of consolation. In either case, it gives support to “the pacifist strain of Christianity that has repeatedly called for Israel to retreat, to refrain from proactive self defense and ultimately … to risk immolation.”
Our Jewish brothers and sisters need to know that many, many Christians do not inhabit the moral universe wherein the sin of having inflicted “collective suffering” belongs equally to “Hizballah and the Israeli military.
As rational, realistic moral agents, we must never deny the essential moral difference between the infliction of evil and the robust defense against evil. I am reminded of one line that is recited daily in dozens of languages on every inhabited continent of the globe from the Christian Baptismal Covenant:
“Q: Will you persevere in resisting evil? A: I will with God’s help.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury is a serious theologian who has engaged thoughtful discourse about “just war” doctrine. His strong pacific leanings (even as to the war to defeat the terrorist jihad) are the product of deep spiritual refection and scholarly study.
In a public exchange on the topic with George Weigel (of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.), Dr. Williams wrote:
“Which brings us to an awkwardness in Weigel’s position. The terrorist, he says, has no aims that can be taken seriously as political or moral. But this is a sweeping statement, instantly challengeable. The terrorist is objectively wicked, no dispute about that, in exercising the most appalling form of blackmail by menacing the lives of the innocent. Nothing should qualify this judgement. But this does not mean that the terrorist has no serious moral goals.”
This is the seed idea, I suspect, from which the flower of Dr Williams’ seeming neutrality has emerged. The exchange is available on line in the journal First Things at http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0403/articles/williamsweigel.html .
Although I am not in agreement with the Archbishop’s reasoning, I respect his moral integrity. But no one seriously questions the moral integrity of George Weigel either; he is a widely read and greatly respected Roman Catholic thinker. I strongly recommend Weigel’s lecture, “Moral Clarity in a Time of War”, as published in First Things, January 2003. George Weigel is not a pacifist. Nor are a majority of lay Christians. “Moral Clarity in a Time of War” is available on line at http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0301/articles/weigel.html .
Jay B. Gaskill
Comments and Caveat are Copyright © 2006 by Jay B. Gaskill, Attorney at Law
Article by Michael Krauss & J. Peter Pham in Commentary “Why Israel Is Free to Set Its Own Borders” www.jaygaskill.com/CommentaryKraussandPham.pdf
Truman Presidential Library “The Recognition of the State of Israel” http://www.trumanlibrary.org/israel/index.html
 Dates: 10-4-1946 President Truman supports creation of a “viable Jewish state”; 11-29-1947 U.N Partition Plan approved; 5-14-1948 Israel’s Declaration of Independence; 5-14-1948 U.S. (Truman) grants de facto recognition; 1-13-1949 U.S. (Truman) grants de jure recognition.