January 6, 2009 by Ron Madson
After expressing my opinion last week to a group of friends that the bombing and invasion of Gaza by Israel constituted terrorism, someone e-mailed and asked a question: “So what would you do if you were the Israeli Prime Minister?”
Fair enough. The person asking the question posed it rhetorically assuming that anyone confronted with the Palestinian/Hamas enemies would have no choice but to retaliate. Such is the logic of those who believe “there is no other way.”
However, I know exactly what I would do if I I were the Israeli Prime Minister. I would consider the voices of such Israeli dissident groups such as Gush Shalom and very strong voices within Israel that have long since recognized that Israel has imposed crushing food and economic embargoes on Palestinians. You can find many Israeli citizens who preach day and night in a Jeremiah fashion that it is the Israeli government that is the aggressor and provoker in the past and now
this present situation. Maybe they are as deluded as the anti-war protestors in America. Maybe not. But let us assume that it is the Palestinians that are dead wrong and the aggressor and that they are evil and Israel is the innocent victim. Either way as a disciple of Christ my approach would be the same.
I would seek to destroy the Palestinians in the very way Christ taught us how to destroy our enemies. I would do what Gush Shalom proposes and then more: I would flood Palestine with food, economic relief/opportunities, water (no longer cut of their water supplies in any way). I would return good for evil aggressively and unrelentingly. I would meet with their leaders—including terrorists (they call themselves defenders, but no matter) and I would beg for forgiveness for all wrongs that Israeli has done in any way. I would council with them and when they ask for such and such I would consider ways to practically double their request. I would find ways to give the Palestinians the dignity and respect that any human being deserves. I would destroy their war
Is my proposal absurd? Perhaps. It is as absurd and impractical as the Sermon on the Mount. In Franco Zefrilli’s “Jesus the Christ'” there is that great scene in temple when Jesus is confronted by Barrabas and the Zealots and they say “Jesus we know you are the Messiah and we will do anything you tell us to do.” Jesus looks intently on Barrabas and says: “Barrabas, love your enemies, do good to them, and forgive them.” The look of Barrabas is that same look any well
intentioned user of force/violence to “do good” has: He looks at Jesus like he is a complete dreamer and fool who understands nothing about the world. So Barrabas and the zealots continue to do their thing until they bring about the very thing they sought to prevent.
So where are the examples of applying Christ’s absurd and foolish approach?
King Ashoka of India (circa 200 BC). After being converted to God, King Ashoka approached his enemies whom he had defeated and begged for forgiveness. He provided restitution and aggressively and unrelentingly blessed his enemies to their great bewilderment, and in the words of Durant peace broke out for two centuries—the irony is that Christ’s way if applied really works but we do we really believe His words? No, we are only pretenders and do not try to apply it anymore than Barrabas and the Zealots who in words accepted Christ but in deeds fully rejected Him.
So Israel wants Hamas to quit attacking or bombing them. Really? And unrelenting and disproportionate retaliation works? The reality is that Mormon gets it right: “It is by the wicked that the wicked are punished.”
I am no defender of Hamas or any form of their revenge. I just believe that the old formula of eye for eye and vengeance does not work. I can also see how if Israel can spin, like Hamas, their narratives in just days after acts of aggression then how easy it would be for Israel over centuries of oral traditions (before reducing to writing) to come up with the ultimate taking the Lord’s name in vain after the Exodus: “God told us to invade Palestine and kill all men, women and children”— right. No wonder the Father had to send the Son to clear up the national self deceit that continues to day in full glory because when the prophets told them how wrong they were they could not kill them fast enough.
What would I do? I would hope I would do exactly what the Son of God or any real prophet or leader acting in His name would do. Isn’t it about time we take Him at His words?