Pax Christi USA mourns the tragic violence now taking place in Gaza and Israel, and we are deeply frustrated with the lack of nuance and analysis about the situation in the news coverage in the United States. Below is a piece from Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), a nonprofit Christian ecumenical organization which seeks justice and peace in the Holy Land through education, advocacy, and nonviolent action.

The fighting in Gaza that has shocked the world requires a clear and principled response. For FOSNA, as an organization that promotes the message of Palestinian Liberation Theology and the Christian perspective on which it is based, a number of statements need to be made:

The first thing we have to say, which is intrinsic to our theology, is that violence and war are never the answer. We need to realize, Palestinians and Israelis alike, that any solution must be based on justice and not the destruction of the other party. At the very least, there must exist a clear distinction between civilian and military targets, between fighters and noncombatants. This is a rule that applies to each side; whatever the justifications, those who choose war and violence in the pursuit of their goals must use every possible means to avoid killing noncombatants or targeting civilian infrastructure. We fear we will see thousands of civilian casualties in the coming few days, primarily among Palestinians who have no access to bomb shelters and no organized state structures to defend them. We are distressed that instead of calling for a quick end to the fighting, many are praising it while doubling down on their ability to inflict maximum damage upon their enemies.

Second, this war reveals the veracity of the message we have long been communicating: today’s violence was the inevitable outcome of Israel’s persistent and systematic violation of the rights of Palestinians. In the case of Gaza, two thirds of whose population are refugees from the 1948 Nakba and who have been suffering an inhumane siege since 2007, today’s outbreak is the most foreseeable outcome. Despite what pundits might think or how things might appear on the surface, an unjust status quo cannot go on forever. The biblical prophets, and all who would stand in the prophetic tradition, consistently proclaim a discordant message over and against the destructive powers that be and their ideological enablers. It is a message that God is sovereign and oppression cannot and will not prevail. The world usually measures things in terms of immediately observable surface elements, tending to be impressed by the power, wealth, and influence of those in command. It takes a prophet to see beyond that and to warn of uncomfortable truths that can be ignored by the powerful. This continues to be the role of those who believe in justice for the Palestinians. Despite the tremendous power imbalance, Palestinian rights need to be addressed and must be taken into account. The Abrahamic Accords, for instance, are arrangements based on shallow interests that deliberately failed to take Palestinians into account, precisely because they lack the political clout. The events in Gaza today show that such failure to take their interests into account will inevitably explode and force itself upon reality.

Finally, the current round of fighting must lead all parties to think in new terms and not be lulled again into doubling down on policies that have failed time and again. Palestinians and Israelis must seek ways to live together in peace and harmony. This requires that the demands of justice be met. This is not a conflict that can be resolved through the violent overpowering of one’s enemies. For this reason, it is essential that Hamas is no longer excluded from the conversation. They must be brought into a fruitful process leading towards peace with justice. For many years, Israel and its supporters thought they could neutralize, pacify, or ignore Gaza and the Palestinians there. Israel thought it could fragment the Palestinians and isolate both Gaza and Hamas. It is now abundantly clear that cannot be done.

As the fighting continues and the number of victims on both sides increase, we must raise our voice and call for peace: a just peace based on equality, human rights, and dignity, and not on supremacy and colonial domination.

Photo from Tent of Nations, the Nassar family farm near Bethlehem on the West Bank

5 thoughts on “Gaza, colonial violence, and the pursuit of a Just Peace

  1. Outside nations should condemn the recent fighting and make every attempt to stop the bloodshed. Media should review the fact that there many individuals and groups of Palestinians and Israelis who seek peace. The conclusion that there are no winners in armed conflict should be stressed. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a genuine move toward resolution. Pray for and act by contacting your representatives and the Administration to encourarage a diplomatic to the bloodshed. Peace.

  2. The [FOSNA] statement on what is happening right before our eyes is both admirable and courageous, knowing that it will be subjected to politicization by depraved politicians and interest groups.
    Like the other war in Eastern Europe, this one was not inevitable. Yet the innocents on both sides of The Gaza Strip will shed their blood because of sick leaders and their enablers. We in the United States are among those who have their blood on our hands. Some of our leaders are already chanting the mantra of “winning” rather than asking why this ghoulish nightmare is happening and what part did we play in it and , most urgently, how can we stop it.
    David-Ross Gerling, PhD

  3. Today is, Saturday, November 18th, 2023. I pray to God for a ceasefire, now. I pray that we all will keep working, living and loving each other in spite of our inadequacies and failures to stop this slaughter of the resilient Palestinian people in Gaza. I pray for Palestinians to forgive the USA for the genocidal policy that keeps killing them. Dear children, forgive us, forgive me. I will keep working for the ceasefire. Many people in the United States deeply desire- want for you to survive, Palestinian people! We also want justice and peace for the entire region. I pray to God for the safe return of the Israeli hostages taken by Hamas, immediately. Peace Activists, justice activists, thank you. I am grateful for the actions all of you have taken. Never give up hoping, working, and praying for a free Palestine. One day in the not too distant future, it will come to be, a free Palestine. We must believe in this very real possibility, even in the face of this total annihilation of North Gaza. Peace be with you. Elise C.

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