Menu Close

War and Peace: A Few Thoughts on the Violent, Murderous Conflict Between Israel and Palestine

gaza

Roger and Marlene have lived in the same community for seven decades. Their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents also lived in this community. They are all dead now, but their children and grandchildren live not far from their home. Not in the community the family has called home for over a century, but nearby.

Land, community, and family matter to Roger and Marlene. These things and others give them a sense of permanency and belonging. While they have traveled the world for work and pleasure, Roger and Marlene always return home; to that place where everything seems safe, secure, and right.

One day, an outsider named Benjamin came to their property with a bulldozer and backhoe. Acting as if he owned Roger and Marlene’s property, Benjamin began preparing the ground for a basement. Once the basement was built, scores of construction workers began building a two-story home just fifty feet away from Roger and Marlene’s ranch home.

Both Roger and Marlene were outraged over Benjamin appropriating their land and building a house without their permission. “Surely, this is immoral and the community will put a stop to it.” Roger and Marlene quickly found out that the community had been taken over by outsiders; that these outsiders planned to let people squat on properties and build homes on land that didn’t belong to them. “What justification could there be for allowing outsiders to usurp the rights of property owners?” Roger and Marlene discovered that the outsiders believed that an ancient religious text promised that the appropriated land belonged to them; and that they had every right, if necessary, to take it by force. In their minds, God was on their side.

Thousands of new homes were built in the community, causing untold heartache, pain, and loss. Roger and Marlene, along with their neighbors, said “Enough is enough! It is time to put an end to what historians call apartheid. The community pushed back, without success. In fact, the outsiders built a fence around the community, blocking all outside access. Residents were trapped inside the fence, and people outside of the community were not permitted to visit. This meant Roger and Marlene’s children and grandchildren couldn’t visit them.

For the next sixteen years, Roger and Marlene lived in what sociologists called the world’s largest prison. Two million people lived in their community, and all of them were trapped. Outsiders controlled every aspect of their lives, from when and if they were employed to whether they had food, water, electricity, and basic services on any given day. Every day was a struggle for existence.

Finally, part of the community decided to push back, using violent means to remove the intruders — outsiders who stole their land and robbed them of the ability to earn a living and live safe, secure lives. These community members were rightly labeled terrorists for their indiscriminate killing of innocent, men, women, and children.

The outsiders declared war on the community, bombing and killing innocents. It seems that terrorism is the modus operandi for the community and outsiders alike. This bloody war has the potential to become a regional war, drawing in countries that support the community and outsiders with weapons and money. Neither side is without blame.

Outsiders across the world think the community is to blame; and that they started it. Did they? Who appropriated the community’s land? Who is illegally building homes on property that doesn’t belong to them? Who is keeping two million people from earning a living and having the basics of life? Who keeps the community from receiving medicines and medical care?

To understand the community’s violent response to the outsiders, we must answer the question “Why?” As a child, I cornered a mouse in our garage. I harassed the mouse, chasing it throughout the garage. Finally, I had him right where I wanted him. As I bent over and reached my hand down to catch the mouse, it suddenly turned on me and bit my hand. Who was to blame for the mouse biting me?

Israel has harassed, imprisoned, and killed Palestinians for decades, especially in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Hamas, a militant Muslim group that controls Gaza, has repeatedly attacked Israel, trying to push the invaders out of their land. While I vehemently condemn Hamas’ murderous actions, I refuse to ignore Israel’s culpability in the bloodshed. Israel provoked the mouse and it bit them. What happens going forward remains to be seen.

Many American politicians — especially Republicans — are Zionists, believing that Israel has a sovereign, absolute right to all the land a fictional man named Abraham (and by extension God) said was theirs — the Promised Land. No two-state solution. No Palestinian sovereignty. Apartheid? What’s that?

I condemn Hamas’ violence against the people of Israel. That said, I refuse to ignore the WHY? behind the bloodshed. Most American children think that the “Indians” were savages; that they raped white women, murdered their husbands, and kidnapped their children. Awful acts of violence, to be sure. However, settler and military violence against indigenous people preceded the cowboy and Indian war scenes made popular in American movies. Fortunately, historians are now telling what Paul Harvey called “the rest of the story.” Stories such as the one about our Godly, Bible-believing forefathers locking hundreds of indigenous people in a building and setting it on fire.

Savagery abounds in our world. Why? We wrongly think that violence, bloodshed, and murder are the cure for everything. The United States has been at war most of my life, from Vietnam to our current proxy war against Russia in Ukraine. In the twentieth century, U.S. military personnel and munitions wounded and killed millions of innocent people. We have continued to follow this bloody, violent path in the twenty-first century. War never brings peace. Peace begets peace. All war does is temporarily bring a cessation of hostilities. One day, the violence in Israel/Gaza/West Bank will temporarily end. If the warring sides don’t make equitable peace, it is only a matter of time before something new (or old) reignites the violence. And with every armed conflict, the world risks catastrophe, perhaps even world war.

We have never given peace a chance. Instead, we give lip service to the concept, all the while planning and strategizing to destroy and wipe out our “enemies,” never asking “why” they are our enemies. Largely ignorant of history, people are driven by tribalism and religion to pursue superiority, power, and economic security with violence and bloodshed. This path will ultimately lead to the destruction of the human race.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

Connect with me on social media:

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

19 Comments

  1. Avatar
    GeoffT

    I am horrified by what’s going on in Israel and, whilst I have opinions, they’re pretty uninformed opinions. I regularly tell myself that I must read up on what’s going on, and the background, but one thing I know not to do is to get my information from the cesspit that is social media (I have a friend who has never read a book in his life, spends all his time on Tik Tok and sees himself as an expert!). There are a small number of headline type sentences that stick in my mind and maybe I should concentrate on as my starting point.
    “God is not a real estate agent.”
    “A good two nation solution was offered 30 years ago but rejected by the Arabs.”
    “Palestine don’t want a two state solution as they refuse to recognise the right of Israel to exist.”
    “The Hasidic Jews are vehemently against the granting of any status to Palestine.”

  2. Avatar
    deteremineddespitewp

    There is a fearful, dread logic in the tides of Human History. Instead of tides you could also call them avalanches moving in a slow motion of centuries.

    The Cause and Effect of the Palestinian / Israeli conflicts have many roots. Once you start to trace one, you are drawn back to an earlier series of events, which themselves are linked to others, and backwards it goes.

    A similarity exists within The current war between Ukraine and Russia.
    Both stretch back beyond the 15th European re-discovery of the Americas. The former much deeper into history.

    And the USA taking the place of the British, French, Spanish, Dutch and Hapsburg Empires with its time on the world stage is drawn in. For it competes with Russia and China also dominant world players.

    Meanwhile the warping of Religion returns to its place the distortion of Communism briefly held. Both places where the disaffected seek to make themselves heard.
    Thus the constants of Conflict, Hate, Fear and Prejudice feed. The actors might be different. The script remains the same.

  3. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    Well said, Bruce. I, like you, see the futility of war and condemn violence of any kind.

    The long-standing Israel-Palestine situation has, like too many other conflicts, been cynically exploited by people who are not wearing the boots on the ground, so to speak. In addition to the bankers and munitions-makers who are inevitably the only “winners,” this conflict is supported by people who might hate both sides but will play off one against the other because they believe that it will hasten their ascent into the arms of a God who, they believe, is all too eager to welcome them.

  4. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    Well said, Bruce. I commented on your “Hot Takes” post what I was taught about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an evangelical. Frankly, I didn’t think much about it until I befriended a Palestinian-American whose family’s experience brought to light a different perspective.

  5. Avatar
    Jeff Bishop

    Hello Bruce.
    You really put yourself out there this time. How in the world could any rationale person support Hamas?

    Before you faint here is my perspective:

    While the start of the Zionist Movement is often associated with the famous / infamous “Balfour Declaration” it was the Irgun Zvai Leumi (National Military Organization) led by Menachem Begin that did the ‘dirty work” leading to British withdrawal and ultimately the famous UN vote to recoginize “Israel” as a nation. This “dirty work” by every definition was a proactive terrorist campaign that involved the indiscriminate murder of not only Arabs but British citizens and foreign nationals.

    This is an undeniable fact that is often “glossed over” by Jewish citizens and of course the Jewish and Christian religous apologists.

    Western Imperialism and it’s trepidations in the Middle East, especially the British, post WW2 is not to be admired, reaching it’s nadir with the infamous decision by Eisenhower to topple the Iranian order and place the puppet the “Shaw of Iran” in power.

    Point being, Palestinians and Iranians have legit “beefs”.

    I happen to know a Palestinian family forced, by “gun-point” to evacuate and leave their farm and homestead on the West Bank, so I do have sympathy for the Palestinian people.

    Back on point, I believe that Benny will use the miliary to destroy Gaza. I believe his threats.

    I support Israel generally speaking. Having said that I find Benny’s coalition disgusting, and I totally reject the militant Jewish Zionism the hard cores represent.

    You got to hand it to Christians and Jews, if the facts don’t align with their beliefs then they will just change the facts to suit their own narrative.

    Gaza / The West Bank, I find the entire situation disgusting and pathetic from both sides. The only reason I support Israel over the Arabs is I find the Arab version of cult worship even more odious than the Jewish version.

    Hamas is a bunch of murdering thugs, this most recent action proves that.

    Just another fine example of the insanity associated with Judeo Christianity and of course Islam.
    I yearn for a “Secular” World.

    • Avatar
      Yulya Sevelova

      Secular,social democracies certainly seem the the best form of government ,ever. I wish all those Middle Eastern countries could adopt the Scandinavian design for running one’s country. It would change their lives overnight ! I only found out late Saturday night,while scrolling on my phone looking up other things, and the first thing that struck me was, hoe very coordinated and professional this operation was- it was obvious to many that Hamas had help from outside that region. My blood ran cold, knowing what that could mean. Not many people know this, but Islamics TOO believe in,and desire the Apocalypse, because then their Mahdi that they’ve been looking for will appear. So yes, just like people in Trump’s administration,they are trying to bring this about. They are into the Isaac vs Ishmael thing, lock,stock and barrel. This 4,000 year- old domestic dispute. Cops hate domestic calls. For valid reasons. So Abraham,Sarah and Hagar sucked as parents. Tell us something we don’t know,right ? I hate that the leaders behind all this b.s. don’t have to fight in these wars they start !! The Palestinian Authority,which runs Gaza, is so corrupt anyway,and their citizens are angry over their crap living standards. Israel should have forced the PA to clean up their act, and give the people decent services, because they DO have money for it ! They dropped the ball there. I find it amazing that Washington claims they had no Intel on this, because once Saudi Arabia and Iran announced they had a peace agreement, I felt odd, like something was going to happen,and it wouldn’t be good. I was reading the Wall St. Journal yesterday, and there’s a column regarding Egypt telling Israel that Hamas was going to ” do something big .”. Almost two weeks in advance. And that Iran is setting aside all other concerns, to deal with Israel now. That’s why Hamas was greenlighted. Hence the ” professional quality” of this multifaceted attack. Lots more to say, but it’s the ” screwups ” by America and the IDF that really bother me- like it was timed in a certain way. Iron Dome didn’t work,and that’s an expensive system. People are just livestock to these agencies and politicians ! Talk about a dirty war………..

  6. Avatar
    Troy

    I agree with Jeff Bishop’s comment. Israel actually did give “peace a chance”. They gave the Gazans autonomy in 2005 and in short order they elected Hamas terrorists as their leaders (and of course now they don’t have elections) In video of Hamas warriors attacking old ladies and teenagers I hear a lot of Allahu Akbar! (“God is Great!”).
    Such religious strife is pretty common. The partition of India into an Islamic states of East and West Pakistan and Hindu India had a serious body count and continues to threaten the entire world today. Looking closer to home there is “manifest destiny”. It would be a bit naive to think we only became good when we got the goods. It’s also important to remember that wars are always fought after resources. Religion just gives us our team colors. Even our closest cousins chimpanzees go to war, it is for resources, and as far as I know they don’t have religion.

    • Avatar
      TheDutchGuy

      “Autonomy” in a confined enclave prescribed and imposed by an external authority is not liberty, freedom, or justice in any sense. I’m reminded of an old saying from civil rights demonstrations. “No justice no peace”. Israelis should not be surprised having sown the wind they are reaping the whirlwind. Peace may follow justice but strife follows oppression.

      • Avatar
        Troy

        @THEDUTCHGUY
        I suppose when it gets down to it, autonomy STILL requires that you be a good neighbor. If your little fiefdom (and it IS little) elects terrorists that disturb the peace you can expect that your liberty will be choked until it looks like oppression, though they picked up the snake. It reminds me of when we’d call my mother a witch she’d say, “You made me what I am today”
        I’m not totally unsympathetic to the Gazans. If native Americans asserted their right to my property, I might go on the war path as well.

  7. Avatar
    Barbara L. Jackson

    Part of this problem is overpopulation. Both the Islam and Ultra-Orthodox Jews believe they have a right to have as many children as they want. There is limited physical space in Gaza/Israel/West Bank, so no one is going to get the space they need if they keep overpopulating. Their GOD is the correct one this also creates hate of the other and the right to kill them any way you want.

  8. Avatar
    Revival Fires

    Warning! What follows are the words of a delusional man.

    The Bible is unfolding before your eyes and you still reject it.

    The following is INSPIRED BY Revival Fires’ mental illness.@.

    Boris And Sassy Griner were teaching philosophy class and took trip to Paris at dinner that night the Israeli Palestinian conflict was discussed.

    Boris an extreme Anti-Christian atheist had plenty to say.

    BORIS: it’s just not right the way the Palestinian people are being treated!

    Student Fred: I know.

    BORIS: the Christians and their stinking bull manure! There is no evidence of a man named Abraham ever existing this is not “God’s chosen people” horse hockey! There ain’t no God! It’s all bull.

    Later that evening….

    BORIS (grabs chest) SASSY I CANT BREATHE!! HELP!!

    Collapsed.

    Boris was rushed to the hospital after a massive heart attack.

    He was shocked back and needed emergency surgery.

    Sassy and Boris wait for the dr to arrive to do the surgery. Boris gets weaker.

    BORIS: sassy I love you.

    SASSY: Boris I love you too hold on baby the Dr is coming.

    Moments later….

    Boris gets up and walks across the room pain free.

    BORIS: sassy! The pain is gone!!

    Sassy? Sassy? Cant you hear me? Why are you ignoring me?

    He tries to hug her and walks right through her.

    BORIS: WHAT THE???

    Nurse and Drs from hallway: Boris come on it’s time to go we are waiting.

    BORIS: where are we going? I am supposed to have a surgery are you taking me there?

    NURSES AND DRS: yes very soon come on now we must go.

    Boris follows them into the hallway and notices it’s dark and gray.

    NURSES AND DOCTORS: COME ON BORIS! We will be there soon!

    BORIS: where? What is this?

    Then they showed who they really were.

    DEMONS: SHUT YOUR FREAKING MOUTH AND MOVE BOY!!

    STOP ASKING QUESTIONS!!!

    RARRRRRR!! Then one picked up Boris and slammed him down on the ground.

    BORIS: (CRYING).

    Then it went pitch dark and Boris was drug through a pit by a chain where he was hung upside down and placed face first into a fire pit.

    His mouth had a metal plate over it

    BORIS ( MUFFLED) OH NOOOOO!!!! ARRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!

    A demon tore off his arms and placed him all the way into the fire!!!!

    DEMON: RARRRRR!! (Boris beyond terrified) CLEAR!

    DOCTOR:CLEAR!!

    Boris was shocked back and his heartbeat returned.

    Surgery was successful and he will recover.

    BORIS: (reading God’s Word. ) Lord Jesus I am a sinner lost and I need you! I know you died and rose again so I don’t have to go to that awful place I was in. Thank you Jesus I accept you now I trust in you and you alone help me to proclaim the gospel to TRUTH to the lost that no one go to hell eternally in Jesus name AMEN!

  9. Avatar
    M. Howell

    Thanks for the thoughtful post, Bruce. I’m in agreement.

    Article on background from Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/10/9/whats-the-israel-palestine-conflict-about-a-simple-guide?fbclid=IwAR3JpU7mf1RBSQ7Vcvx2wryO4IPLJ7NwtBrHFoafmx4jMEPV_GflrLtZJHw

    When the Hamas attack on Israel first happened, there was more variety of speculation on who funded and backed who, from reputable sources, than any other event that I can recall in modern times. It’s still not clear.

    What is clear is that so many innocents will suffer and die on both sides, but many more Palestinians will suffer and die than Israelis. Israel is retaliation bombing Gaza, one of, if not the most, densely populated areas in the world, while cutting off all resources — water, electricity, food, humanitarian supplies.

    Is Hamas horrible? Yes. Many in Gaza do not support Hamas and they will die anyway.

  10. Avatar
    Brocken

    https://palwatch.org/page/628 This Youtube video is an example of how the Zionist colonists stole the land from the Arab Muslim population. Even though the people are speaking a foreign language, there are helpful subtitles to explaining what is occurring. Of course palwatch.org claims this video produced by the Palestinian Authority plays into Anti-Semitic stereotypes, but I can’t understand why palwatch.org would say that. Palwatch.org is run by one Itamar Marcus. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_Media_Watch .

Want to Respond to Bruce? Fire Away! If You Are a First Time Commenter, Please Read the Comment Policy Located at the Top of the Page.

Bruce Gerencser