Monday, 11 June 2007

Justice in Israel?

I've just been away in Israel for 10 days (it was my second time there). And, again, I was very challenged by the whole political situation there. What does it really mean to seek justice in that situation? Often as Christians we seek neutrality. We wash our hands of politics, fearful of allying the gospel to a particular view. I think this makes sense with many issues - liberty of conscience is a valuable thing. And we see through a glass darkly - it is good to be humble. Yet, there come moments when to be 'neutral' is to be injust. There are situations where not to act/protest is fundamentally immoral. The God of the Bible is not a 'neutral' God, and justice in the Bible does not mean detachment but involvement and partiality. The God of justice is the God who intervenes on behalf of righteousness and the powerless/oppressed.

When it comes to Israel, I am, of course, a foreigner but that does not mean I can just exclude myself (nor be excluded) from basic moral questions. At some point we have to relate to the realities there e.g. even using the term 'Israel' implies acceptance of al kinds of issues that are controverted in the Middle East. The issues in the Middle East affect everyone. Therefore, I think we as Christians need to be fighting for justice for the Palestinians - who are basically an occupied and oppressed people. We need to take their side as people who have been wronged. Do I think the Palestinians are sinless? Absolutely not! Do I think the violence/murders perpetrated by Palestinian groups are OK? Absolutely not! Do I think the Palestinian Authority is corruption-free and democratic? Absolutely not! BUT, the Palestinian people have been fundamentally wronged and are fundamentally mistreated. The Israeli state has ironically made security its national idol, at the same time as its actions undermine its long-term security. If it would seek justice, it would get security thrown in. How we must pray that the Palestinians and Israelis might live together in peace!