But Who Started It?

After writing a column about Israel’s collective punishment in Gaza I got some feedback suggesting that Israel was merely responding to Hamas’ violation of a six-month-old ceasefire. That has been the dominant narrative in the US media. Now, I understand that when you start asking about who started what in the Mideast, you can go back thousands of years finding fault, but still, I think this video from CNN is worth a watch:

6 thoughts on “But Who Started It?

  1. Dear Reverand Ben, you are in a position of leadership/authority for Christians. . . you state its for the Christian Left but the reality is many are exposed to your opinions. That being said, I strongly urge you not to “lead” the thoughts of others by depending on a uninformed media source, who resort to internet searches to get their information–only after being prompted to. As a trained religious leader, people should know if you do your own reading and study of the history of the church (from which you learn the history of the land on which sits Israel and Palestine) on which to base your opinion or spread of “information” and encourage others to do the same. Then you can impart a valuable historical truth from which we can learn. . . and not opinion or hearsay.

    My personal beliefs aside, I implore you to seek and impart the full truth and not just shared opinion and May God bless your efforts to do so.

  2. karen,

    Thanks for the note. Let me tell you why I’ve posted this video. I’m interested in how it challenges the narrative of the Gaza conflict that enjoys overwhelming credence in the United States, that Hamas broke the most recent ceasefire. I believe it is the job of all religious leaders–insofar as we are able–to speak about what is true, and this bit of reporting from CNN challenges our notions of truth by reminding us that things are more nuanced and complicated than that prevailing narrative suggests.

    Now, having said that, I welcome any evidence you have that might suggest this video clip is wrong, that Hamas fired rockets into Israel before the November raid that killed six Palestinians. I will leave any link you supply in your comment, and, if I think it is particularly noteworthy, I’ll create a link in the main post above.

    Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Ben

  3. In response to Karen’s question, I’d start with this citation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Qassam_rocket_attacks#cite_note-18

    If I’ve done it right, that should link to a timeline of rocket attacks from Gaza and elsewhere on Israel. While the initial source is Wikipedia, with all the positives and negatives that site entails, each timeline entry also is cited; the diligent researcher should be able to trace down some information that way.

    FWIW, my cursory research indicates the last Israeli was out of Gaza by Sept. 12, 2005. The first Hamas 30-rocket barrage from Gaza landed in Israel 12 days later.

    Bill

  4. Bill,

    Here’s where all of us have to step back and respect the complexity of the situation.
    As I said in my introduction to the video clip, you can go back thousands of years trying to assign blame for starting the mess in the Middle East. It is true, as you have shown, that rockets were fired form Gaza into Israel after the June ceasefire and before Israel’s early November incursion into Gaza. So far, I have found no suggestion that those rockets were fired by Hamas, however, and the ceasefire was between Hamas and Israel.

    Now, it would be perfectly legitimate to expect Hamas to be better about keeping other groups from firing rockets. Fair enough. I’ll join you in that critique. It also bears pointing out however, that one of the conditions of the ceasefire was that Israel was to open the borders to allow the free flow of goods and services. This never really happened.

    I think it’s fair to say that both sides bear responsibility for the failed ceasefire, which is why I think it is valuable to challenge–as does CNN on this video clip–the prevailing narrative which places all of the blame at the feet of Hamas.

    Ben

    P.S. With the same positives and negatives as you, I’d like to cite the following Wikipedia page as my primary source for this comment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008%E2%80%932009_Israel%E2%80%93Gaza_conflict#Israel.E2.80.93Hamas_truce

  5. Ben,

    I commend you for speaking out behalf of human rights. It really doesn’t matter who fired which rocket first, does it? If we keep our focus on the present (because, as you say, the blame game can go back centuries), we can’t deny that civilians are suffering and that the blockade is doing nothing to lessen the outrage and anger that is surely only getting more intense in Gaza. Violence will only be returned with more violence (on both sides), and do nothing to bring about peace and stability.

    AMM

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