“Woe to those who plan iniquity,
to those who plot evil on their beds!
At morning’s light they carry it out
because it is in their power to do it.
They covet fields and seize them,
and houses, and take them.
They defraud people of their homes,
they rob them of their inheritance.”
(Micah 2:1,2 – words spoken by God to the people of Israel through the prophet Micah – about 700 years before the birth of Jesus)
Israel announced on Sunday the appropriation of nearly 1,000 acres of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank to build homes for Jewish settlers. The land grab is thought to be the largest in 30 years and would pave the way for an expansion of the Jewish settlement bloc in the area.
With each new settlement, the Palestinian dream of a two-state solution becomes less viable. Less achievable. And so does peace – for the Palestinians and for Israel.
I have opposed Jewish settlements on Palestinian land for a long time. I have written about it in this blog (http://www.ilovemuslims.net/2013/07/palestinians-face-down-on-the-ground-with-a-knee-on-their-neck/). But this latest injustice profoundly saddens me. And I must admit, I am angry – with the Israeli government and. . .with my government. Why more so than in the past? Read this statement below:
“The announcement follows the cabinet’s decision last week to take over the land in response to the June kidnapping and killing of three teenage Jewish boys by Hamas militants in the area,” Haaretz reports.
We all thought the latest carnage in Gaza was Israel’s response to the killing of the Jewish teenagers.
Wasn’t that enough? Much more than enough?
Below is a letter from a friend of mine. A man I have great respect for. A Palestinian Christian, Pastor Alex Awad (pictured with his brother, Bishara, and me below).
Please hear his plea to a President – and to a country – that could make a lasting difference for peace and for justice in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. . .if only they would.
A Palestinian Baptist Pastor Writes an Open Letter To President Obama
The announcement of the Israeli government on August 31 to confiscate 1,000 acres belonging to four Palestinian villages near Bethlehem is like pouring salt on the fresh wounds of Palestinians. Israeli officials say this act of land confiscation is in response to the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli settlers. Was not the war on Gaza which resulted in the death of over 2,000 men women and children, the injury of over 12,000, the destruction of thousands of homes, hospitals and schools and the displacement of over 250,000 Palestinians enough response to the kidnapping and killing of three settlers?
Mr. President, just telling the Israeli authorities that this move is counterproductive to arrive at a two-state solution is not enough! Your administration needs to take serious measures to stop this grave injustice. The confiscation of Palestinian lands is no less dangerous than Hamas’s tunnels and rockets. Just as the Israelis need your political, financial and military support to protect them, so do the Palestinians.
Mr. President, you are fully aware of the great turmoil and harm that Islamist radicalism is causing throughout the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere in the world. The Israeli move to expropriate Palestinian lands and your administration’s mild response to the Israeli violation, will surely add fuel to groups like the Islamic State (IS) and other Islamist radical groups. A mild response to this terrible violation will weaken the efforts of President Mahmoud Abbas and the moderates in the Arab world. Only your strong response to this Israeli violation will send a convincing message to radical groups and all Muslims that your administration is committed to a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Mr. President, if there is a time to act decisively and firmly on behalf of peace and justice in Israel-Palestine, it is today. I urge you to act before the radicals do.
Rev. Alex Awad
Pastor: East Jerusalem Baptist Church
Postscript: thank you, Pastor Alex.
I want to say to the people and government of Israel: I love you, God loves you, but. . .you must repent. You were called by God to be His people – to live in a special covenant relationship with Him. But sadly. . .that is not where most of you are as a people or nation today. I beg you – for your own sake if for no other reason – listen to your prophets of old, men sent by God as messengers to your forefathers in Israel and Judah. Their call remains the same to you today: do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). Treat the Palestinian people as people. Stop taking their land out of revenge and just because “it is in your power to do it” (Micah 5:1-2). “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). “‘O Israel,’ says the Lord, ‘if you wanted to return to me, you could. You could do so with truth, justice, and righteousness. Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world, and all people would come and praise my name.'” (Jeremiah 4:1-2)
I want to say to the people and government of the United States: I love you my country but. . .we too must repent. For hundreds of years we have been blessed with abundance beyond description. It came from God. It was His blessing. But we have acted unjustly in so many ways – within our borders and beyond. Now, we have an opportunity to love the Palestinian people – and even Israel – by demanding that Israel stop this continual breaking of God’s laws through taking Palestinian land for Jewish settlements. We can – we must – say to Israel, “No more. Unless you stop building these settlements on Palestinian land, you will not see an American dollar more of support or weapons.”
I want to say to Pastor Alex: I am so sorry for all the injustices you have suffered. I am so sad that my government would continue to say words of rebuke to the Israeli government about the continued building of settlements but do nothing to stop it. A verbal slap on the hand but no action to back up the (painfully obvious) empty words. The wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world watches and does nothing to stop this injustice. I encourage you to call Palestinians who are guilty of their own injustice or violence to repent. I also encourage you to bring God’s comfort to the innocent who are oppressed: God is a God who sees injustice, a God who hears the groanings of those who seek Him, a God who will right all the wrongs one day for those who trust Him (Genesis 16:13; Exodus 2:23-25: Psalm 10).
Yes, I am profoundly saddened. . .but I have hope. Hope in a mighty God.
My prayer: Almighty God in Heaven, we look to You as the only hope for the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Please forgive us – all of us – for ways we have contributed to injustice.
Help us to. . .