a sad picture: my tribute to the kids in Gaza

"Children in Gaza" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
“Children in Gaza” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

I can hear some of my readers now:

“Oh David, I’m disappointed in you. You’ve managed to stay out of politics… until now! Stick to spiritual issues where you’re more experienced and informed.”


“I can’t believe you take that position! You obviously don’t understand!”


“This proves you are not one of God’s people or care about them either!”

But I couldn’t resist any longer.

I finally have to say something. I can’t be silent out of fear of offending someone or losing fans or readers. I know it is complicated and I can be accused of not knowing what I’m talking about. But I need to say what I’m feeling and thinking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I also hesitated because I run an online community, The Lasting Supper, and I don’t want partisan politics to be a factor in what defines our community. I appreciate diversity, and our community is represented by people across the political spectrum. So I will not post this there.

This is me, personally, as David Hayward, expressing my distress over this situation. Even though I don’t, nor can I, demand the same from anyone else, I simply must respond in my own way.

The Dalai Lama expresses my view of appealing to history for the solution. The spiritual leader of Tibet, in exile in India since 1959, has urged Beijing and the Tibetans to “stop looking at everything only through the prism of history. The conflict in the Middle East adopted this methodology and has proved practically endless: Israelis and Palestinians cannot agree because they both use the facts of the past to claim the territories.”

I agree that there isn’t a logical solution to this problem. It’s going to require extra-human wisdom and compassion from all sides.

All the arguments are serious but powerless to affect change. They make me feel unqualified and disqualified, uninformed and ill-informed, and that I need to stand back and make room for the educated professionals to escalate the violence. All the explanations feel like clever attempts to justify the complicated history and continue the bloodshed. The explanations seem like the validation of hopelessness.

When I read Brian Eno’s impassioned letter, he perfectly expresses how I feel about the conflict.

When I read Peter Schwartz’s rational response to it, he perfectly expresses how I think the rationales are being presented.

I’m bewildered by all the civilians being killed. The children! Unhindered!

Even this morning a 72 hour truce was broken with the bombing deaths of more Palestinians just a few hours after the ceasefire commenced!

It has to stop. We all need to ask for it all to stop. On both sides, including those who have done most of the killing, the ratio now being at least 25 to 1.

I had to speak out now because I was feeling complicit in the violence against innocents. I was guilty of silence.

There, I said it.


17 Replies to “a sad picture: my tribute to the kids in Gaza”

  1. It’s a sad day when “we shouldn’t be killing and injuring children” is seen as “partisan politics.”

    I also find the “stay out of politics and stick to spiritual issues” position kind of weird. Isn’t justice — especially for the widow, the orphan, and those who cannot defend themselves — a spiritual issue?

  2. It is hope-less and exactly why religion is a disease upon the human species. I do have hope though that they completely destroy each other. The world will be a better place. The complicity is in supporting politicians who support funding the rampant murderous bloodshed. Withdraw the funding and let them deplete their ammo. Then they’ll get face to face and see the blood flow. After their appetites are satisfied, remorse and compassion will have a chance to grow.

  3. I agree — the deaths are horrible. The suffering terrible. But I hear no solutions. Just further attacks. Each side sends huge number of missiles with intent to kill — one side is just unskilled. And one side is sworn to the destruction of the other. Mistreatment, isolation and land grabbing using religious justification – argggh.

    Ahhh to protest is wonderful and guilt relieving, but solutions — oh how we need solutions.
    I protest that there are no workable solutions– there, I feel better.

  4. IMO the only solution is to dissolve ethnic, cultural, and religious identity. As long as each side holds their own ethnic, cultural, and religious identity above all else, there will be conflict. They need to channel John Lennon. Imagine.
    But they will probably just simply go on killing each other for a few more generations.

  5. I’m really not a fan of dissolving identities, especially when it’s those identities that contribute to individuals’ uniqueness. Dissolving such things tends to erase people in favor of forcing everyone into a homogenous sameness. I’d rather keep our diversities and uniqueness and instead work on dismantling ethnic, cultural, and religious supremacy.

  6. Jared, you said it better. Yeah, the important thing is not to view your particular ethnicity, culture, and religion as superior or not being able to share a plot of land with those that are different.

  7. You know you’re doing something horribly wrong when other Jews of various religious convictions are saying that the anti-Palestinian, zionist actions are damnable. I’ve said this on TLS and I’ll say it here: I honestly believe that the majority of people supporting this conflict are CHRISTIANS who have been wanting to “take back” the “Holy Land” since the first crusade.

    It’s just a damn strip of land with shared historical importance. History has no right to be owned or conquered.

  8. Cecilia, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re right. Fred Clark talks about how Christians who subscribe to post-millenial dispensationalism have a hard-core pro-Israel stance due to their PMD theology. As he notes, they support anything that rebuilds “Biblical Israel” and the temple because they believe it is a necessary first step in getting Jesus to return. (Clark also notes that PMD Christians’ relationship with Israel is bizarre in that they want they then turn around and expect Jesus to damn Jews to hell for “rejecting Christ” in the end.)

  9. Right now, what needs to happen is we need to find a way to stop the violence (again). To that end, I’m in favor of supporting putting pressure on Israel, since it is the entity with the most power. As Spidey says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” This does not make me either pro-Israel or pro-Hamas. This isn’t about ethnicity or religion to me. It’s about justice. As long as the powers invested in the region support destructive behavior on either side, the behavior will continue. The longer the violence continues, the harder it will be for cooler heads to prevail.

  10. My dad served in Palestine in 1946, whilst with the RAF, but never spoke about it. I visited Israel/Palestine in 2005, to see the situation for myself, (and find the base where he’d served) before they finished building the wall around Jerusalem, to keep Palestinians out, or corralled through the massive security gates. (My ex-brother in law is one of those crazy pro-Zion Christians – after my niece and nephew left home at 16, tired of the religious mania, he didn’t bother staying in contact. Says it all…… 🙁 ) Of course, part of their mad doctrine is that those who don’t convert to Christianity when the Messiah reappears will go to Hell, while they will go to heaven. Baloney – and delusion.

    My response is prayer AND donations to Christian Aid for the people of Gaza. A two-state solution is needed, along with really radical, justice inspired leaders on either side – like Nelson Mandela and Frederik de Klerk in South Africa. Where are they? I believe in a risen Christ in the world today, at work through our faith and hearts – we are called to be compassionate, not destructive.

    Let’s face it, war is also HUGE business and people and buildings are there to showcase the might of this expensive and immoral armoury. God help us all………….

  11. “I was guilty of silence.” Very true.

    But now you are guilty of sentimentalism and ignoring the facts, and buying into the impassioned articles all over the web from liberals and mainstream media. Yes children die in war and it’s a horrible thing but if that’s your cause, then why have you been silent until now? Otherwise you’d be writing (for the last couple of decades) similar articles about the massacred Christian families in Syria, Iraq, Mosul etc. etc. – except unlike the surgical strikes of the military attempting to protect it’s own citizens and taking unprecedented steps and risks to minimise civilian casualties, you’d be reporting on Arab Muslims who first hand joyfully and deliberately hack these people to death. The leaders of these arab countries will stop at nothing to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth – should they just lie down and accept it?

    You sir, are part of the problem, not the solution.

  12. @gareth, your post reads to me as if to say two basic things:
    1. “Anything that buys into a liberal perspective is part of the problem”
    2. “Israel waging war against demons–and killing children in the process–is a good thing”

    I would argue that it is this very tribalistic perspective–that allows only minimal identification with other human beings and demonizes the other–that is at the root of conflicts like the Israeli/Palestinian one.

    From what I can gather (though I will not speak for him), David would argue something similar. Given that many of his posts seem to have targeted that root issue in a variety of ways, and given that this is the issue at the root of the scenarios that you propose that he *should* have been addressing in the past, I think it is safe to say that if you have been reading his blog, David actually has (indirectly) been dealing with those issues. For as long as I have been reading, he has continued to encourage justice through identification as a better way than tribalization through demonization (the latter of which you seem to support in your reply, so your antagonism is perhaps to be expected).

    Why this particular issue? The obvious answer to this is that is is a hot issue for today. As a society, we are trying to process it. What are the key issues that need to be addressed? How can we address them fairly? As an American, my government has a special relationship with the government of Israel, so how does the issue affect American interests?

    I believe that one of the reasons it is a hot issue is because of its unique, strategic situation in the global political climate. If we can work toward peace effectively in that region, then I believe it would have a better chance at a more peaceful planet. If we allow things to escalate, consequences could be dire for us all.

    The killing of innocent children (in war or not) moves us toward escalation. Under normal circumstances, humanity should be horrified. It’s a moment when people involved (even emotionally from a distance) should take note, step back, and ask “have we really allowed things to get to this point…and since we have, what should we do to stop it?” Hopefully, by highlighting such a disaster, people will take the time to do just that.

  13. _garth: I do not deny I am a part of the problem. In fact, I think it is a part of the problem to deny that you are a part of the problem. The whole world is a part of the problem. Yes, including you!

  14. Judaism and Islam, in themselves, rarely start wars. (Tamerlane aside.) Greed and the will to power use religion as an excuse. Sometimes it is fear. But sometimes, it is scarcity, and little can be done to stop the violence.

    Maybe a moderately authoritarian society with a strong emphasis on family planning could avoid the natural need for war.

    But I fear Palestine is past that point. Those who wish to live might seek to flee and flee soon, for buckets misery and the scarred hearts of the guilty remain in the future of that too-desired land.

    Maybe one day a new Book of Lamentations will be added to the Hebrew canon, written about the future that awaits. Or maybe it will be excluded due to the tendency of those scribes who think themselves wise to call canon closed but when it suits them.

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