Throughout the Old Testament God speaks to his people, urging them to put aside things that distract them from him, things that dishonour him.
At one point he says,
“Cast away the detestable things your eyes feast on…do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt.” Ezekiel 20:7
In ancient times God called his people out of Egypt. Today God calls his people to come out of ‘the world’ around us. That is, to be wise to the idols of the culture we find ourselves living in, and to cast these idols away.
Black Friday has certainly revealed one of these idols loud and clear. Yet it is easy to distance ourselves from the blatant madness of Black Friday riots – but not so easy when the idol of materialism is dressed up in a cute John Lewis penguin advert. Or when you do your weekly food shop and you see something that would make a great extra present for one of your kids.
All materialism serves to achieve is to distract us from worshiping God. Whether we are getting ourselves crushed in an insane Black Friday shopping spree, or whether we are clicking on the insipid adverts in the middle of our facebook pages, we are demonstrating that we are putting our trust in the possessions we can accumulate. Is that what you really want to be trusting in?
I think one thing we have to understand is that it is the politicians that are screwing over the citizens of Palestine and Israel. Hamas, Israeli government, US, UK, all other silent western governments are ABSOLUTELY HAPPY to see war and destruction so long as they have their own personal gain. I urge you not to take a political side or support a political ideology.
The ONLY way forward is reconciliation between people.
My wife is reading a Middle East travel book that was written in 1945 and belonged to my great-grandfather. It really is special that she is able to do this.
The photograph above is of a map that appears in the book at the start of the section on Palestine. It is fascinating to think that less than 70 years ago there was no nation of Israel on the map.
In light of the impending death of Ariel Sharon I think we should spare some thoughts for the grief and heartache suffered by the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families who, in the decades that followed the publication of this map, were forcibly removed from their homes and have been living in an increasingly strict state of apartheid ever since.
57 years ago yesterday Rosa Parks defiantly refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She has been named ‘the mother of the freedom movement’ by U.S. Congress.
I am sure that the vast majority of Americans welcome the changes that the Civil Rights Movement brought about and the crucial and timely role that Rosa Parks played. It is ironic then that ‘the land of the free’ puts its political weight and fat dollars behind a nation that is attempting to implement their own racial bus segregation.
In the West Bank plans are afoot to implement separate bus services for Israelis and Palestinians after the Jewish settlers have complained about having to share public transport with their half-brothers.
If Rosa Parks was still alive today, and if she were granted a voice to the American policy makers I wonder what she would say? If America genuinely believes that it flies the flag for liberty, freedom and forward thinking then they have to stop bank rolling a government that is quite comfortable to segregate human beings based on their ethnic origin.
This week Israel authorised the building of 3000 houses on Palestinian land in East Jeruslam. This is illegal but the rest of the world watches on passively as Israel continues their strategy to cut the West Bank in half and make Palestinian statehood almost impossible. I wonder why Israel chose this week to make this move…!?
Earlier in the week the UN General Assembly passed a resolution which recognised Palestine as a non-member state with observer status. As BBC Middle East Bureau Chief Paul Danahar tweeted it is the word ‘state’ which is important as this is another step along the road towards being accepted by the world as a country in its own right.
However, the vote wasn’t passed unanimously. Less than 5% of nations voted against the resolution and joining the United States and Israel were Canada, Panama, Czech Republic and those huge and influential nations called Palau, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Nauru. Despite being part of a tiny minority it is tragic that Israel and United States are able to hold Palestine in such an oppressive grip.
This tragedy is allowed to happen because dozens of other countries are, I believe, too chicken. Amongst others Great Britain abstained – despite William Hague’s reasoning I believe we are just too under the thumb of the United States to take a stand on Palestine. I think it’s time that the United States and Israel accept they’re in the minority on this instead of churning out media that gives the impression they hold a rational point of view that stands on the moral high ground.
Countries that recognise the state of Palestine
As you can see from the map above it is pretty much only the ‘West’ that doesn’t recognise Palestine as a nation in its own right. But I suppose we must be right because we are the free West after all.
Just a quick post with a couple of examples of the huge mountain of propaganda and racism that stands between the people of Israel and Palestine and a peaceful co-existence.
- The first example is a story recently published in Israel’s oldest daily newspaper. It describes how Israelis (who are occupying Palestinian land) have persuaded the army to prevent Palestinians (with legal work permits) to board the same buses as them and there are plans for the Palestinians to be provided with separate buses. This should really set alarm bells ringing – have we seen segregation on public transport anywhere before? See the report here.
- The second example is a shocking report by an Israeli organisation that observe the messages that Palestinian children receive from their media. Palestinian Media Watch report that during the 8 day conflict Hamas broadcast disturbing ideological messages to the people of Gaza, the tamest of which is ‘Killing Jews is worship that draws us close to Allah.’ If you’re interested in the full report click here.
There’s a long way to go to genuine peace and genuine justice…..
I am encouraged by the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestine last night. It is admirable that both parties agreed and seem to be adhering. However, without a doubt there will be aggression from Hamas factions at some point and there will be many reasons, some honourable and some shameful, for Israel to retaliate.
Obama promised to invest further in Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ defence system. Wrong answer Barack! You don’t fight this seemingly unfathomable hate with military might. ANY kid could see that and it is time for all interested parties to recognise this.
The only way to swim against the flow of unforgiveness, retaliation and misunderstanding is to invest extravagantly in facilitating reconciliation.
Surely the place to pump resources is in the next generation of Israelis and Palestinians. Programmes should be facilitated that enable children on both sides to grow up with an understanding of and affection for their neighbour. Mixed summer camps, visits across the borders etc. so the next generation have genuine friendships with one another.
At some point this ceasefire will fail. There will be more rockets and power games in coming years. But in 20 years time can there be peace? I believe so, but only if the 20-40 year olds in 20 years time know the bigger picture and know their human brothers and sisters across the border.