What do the people of Gaza want? How can we respond?
July 17, 2014
A lot of people want to stop killing innocent people in Gaza. I fully support this approach. But what do the people in Gaza want and how can we pray and act for spreading peace? According to recent news, the people of Gaza want the following: first, freedom of mobility; they want Israel to lift the siege and to open the border crossings to commerce and people. They want to establish an international seaport and airport. They want Israel to increase their fishing zone to 10 Kilometers. Second, they want freedom of religion. They want to be able to pray in Jerusalem. Third, they want the release of Palestinian prisoners. Fourth, they want economic development and improvements in the Gaza Strip. On the other hand, Israel wants the security of their people.
As a Palestinian Israeli Christian, I support Israel’s need for security as well as the aforementioned requests. Every human being is created in the image of God and has the right to move freely, to work, to pray, and to pursue a decent life. The problem is not in these requests but it is in the conflicting worldviews. On one hand, the current government of Israel sees Hamas and all Palestinians as a threat to the Jewish people. They act in the context of war and pursue a war mentality that delegitimizes their opponents. Any success for Hamas is a failure for Israel. On the other hand, Hamas sees the Israeli government as an occupier and as the enemy. In their eyes, killing any Israeli is acceptable as long as it is in the path of pursuing liberation. Both groups, admittedly in different ways, have killed a lot of innocent people.
In light of the above, we need to pray not only for the cease of fire but also for advocating a new reality. We don’t want only to stop killing innocent children but we also want to raise our children with a different worldview and in a different world. We want to advocate peacemaking not only to stop wars. Consequently, it is important for many Christians to demonstrate their faith through their works and decode their prayers into understandable actions. Following are few steps that we can do:
1. Bless and advocate a worldview and a theology in which both Palestinian and Jews are equally created in the image of God, equally loved and appreciated.
2. Pray for all the oppressed and marginalized and seek practical ways to provide medical aid, food, and other basic needs through Palestinian and Israeli Christian organizations.
3. Support peacemaking through partnering with organizations that advocate peacemaking and peacekeeping. We need to provide children and adults with tools that can empower them to be peacemakers. Create websites, write books, sing peace songs, and design peace making courses. Further, challenge your politicians and leaders through writing to them.
4. Pray and support a long range solution to the Palestinian – Israeli conflict. Address the root of the problem not the symptoms.
Rev. Dr. Yohanna Katanacho