Letter to the Editor | Obama Administration’s decline to veto UN Security Resolution justified

Published 10:36 am Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Dear editor, 

Last week the Obama Administration declined to veto a UN Security Council Resolution condemning Israel for its settlements in occupied Palestine. This action was justified. The Israeli government’s policy of settlement building in the Palestinian Occupied Territories is a violation of international law and threatens hope for a viable Palestinian state, rendering a just and peaceful resolution to the conflict impossible. The more settlements that are built, the less land exists for a Palestinian state. It’s a policy of quiet annexation. 

Often, when I make this observation while talking with my fellow Christians, I am met with the response that we have a Christian duty to support the Jewish people and thus, the state of Israel. First, the Jewish people are hardly a monolith wholly and adequately represented by the government of the State of Israel. But that aside, for many Christians it seems, all of Palestine island for the Jewish people alone. They look to Genesis 12:1-7; Isaiah 62:1-7; Psalm 122:6; Joel 2-3, and assert that this land was given to the Jewish people by God. They support the government of Israel in its policy of annexation, since God made a Covenant with Abram (Abraham), as described in Genesis.  

Email newsletter signup

I disagree that Christians are obliged to urge our government to support the Israeli government’s unjust annexation of Palestinian land. We might look to the Gospels for guidance. For some Christians, Jesus seems to have spoken clearly on this: “it is from the Jews that salvation comes.”  John 4:22.  Well, that’s what Jesus said, in a — probably culturally forbidden — conversation with a Samaritan woman, in which he continues to tell her that the time has come “when those who are real worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” John 4:22-25.  It seems to me that Jesus is more concerned about those who will truly worship God than with who’s a Jew like him and who’s not, and why this lady is drawing water from Jacob’s Well in Sychar (probably Shechem) about a mile east of Nablus in the West Bank.  

Think also of the story in Matthew 15:22-28 where Jesus is accosted by a Canaanite woman (or a Phoenician / Syrian in Mark 7:24-30), who identifies Jesus as “Son of David.”  When Jesus tells her that he can’t help her since he was only sent to help the “lost sheep of Israel,” and then tells her that ‘it’s not right to throw the children’s bread to the dogs,’ she replies that, “and yet the dogs eat the scraps that fall from their masters’ table,” thus rebuking Jesus for what he has said, and thereby rebuking the whole notion that God’s love and support are for a select few only.  Now, I’ve never figured out why Jesus said what he said to this Canaanite lady, but it’s clear from Jesus’ response to her that she was right. 

We are the instruments of God’s love and support in the world, and everyone is worthy of a Christian’s love and support.  Remember the lawyer who tried to pin Jesus down on this point – who’s our neighbor? who are we supposed to love?  Luke 10:29-37.  Jesus said, let me tell you a story about this guy who is supposed to be your enemy, the last guy you would have expected to help one of your countryman in distress and how this guy did just that. 

So, in a world filled with diverse peoples of different religions, all of whom are our neighbors, doesn’t it make sense for there to be institutions like an international law designed to settle conflicts peacefully and equitably?  Makes absolute sense to me.  

I suggest then that the just Christian response to this conflict is to regard both the people of Israel and the people of Palestine as equally our brothers and sisters and deserving of our love and support.  From there, one can begin to understand the conflict, as well as the envisioned “two-state solution,” with new eyes. 

— Harry Fogler III