* Please take a few mins to view these pictures from the recent sitaution in Gaza. Let me warn you that they are incredibly graphic and intense but lest our hearts grow hardened and desensitized: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/12/israel_and_gaza.html
As promised earlier, here’s another perspective on the tension between Israel and Palestine and why Israel should feel threatened and act in some way. The article below in the NY Times is a good read as was the post I shared yesterday. I am not a radical Zionist since I don’t even quite know what that means anymore. As much as people try to cite history to support their views, I also believe that God chose Israel to carry out His plan of redemption for the larger world and while this many not include the totality of Israel from a political or statehood perspective, the “people” of Israel is still part of God’s future plans as well. The important thing we need to all remember is that God’s plan of salvation, redemption, and grace is not just for one nation or people but the larger creation – including Palestinians. Isn’t this the good news?
We’re all aware of the Holocaust but what do we really know besides numbers? In my lifetime, I find it incredibly provocative that in the 38 years of living thus far and in the numerous places I’ve traveled around the world, I have always encountered some form of random prejudice and borderline animosity/hatred for Israel and/or Jewish people. On occasions, I have asked these people – men or women, young or old, Western or Eastern – why they have such views and most don’t have the slightest clue. But they do and worse, there are those who seek to eradicate their existence. Why?
This doesn’t justify Israel’s violation of human right or international guidelines but something for us to consider. Peace and shalom. I yearn for the day when God will restore all. Until that day, may we wrestle and work towards that Kingdom.
Take 10 minutes to read this NY Times opinion column entitled, Why Israel Feels Threatened:
MANY Israelis feel that the walls — and history — are closing in on their 60-year-old state, much as they felt in early June 1967, just before Israel launched the Six-Day War and destroyed the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian armies in Sinai, the West Bank and the Golan Heights.
More than 40 years ago, the Egyptians had driven a United Nations peacekeeping force from the Sinai-Israel border, had closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping and air traffic and had deployed the equivalent of seven armored and infantry divisions on Israel’s doorstep. Egypt had signed a series of military pacts with Syria and Jordan and placed troops in the West Bank. Arab radio stations blared messages about the coming destruction of Israel.
Israelis, or rather, Israeli Jews, are beginning to feel much the way their parents did in those apocalyptic days. Israel is a much more powerful and prosperous state today. In 1967 there were only some 2 million Jews in the country — today there are about 5.5 million — and the military did not have nuclear weapons. But the bulk of the population looks to the future with deep foreboding.
The foreboding has two general sources and four specific causes. The general problems are simple. First, the Arab and wider Islamic worlds, despite Israeli hopes since 1948 and notwithstanding the peace treaties signed by Egypt and Jordan in 1979 and 1994, have never truly accepted the legitimacy of Israel’s creation and continue to oppose its existence.
Second, public opinion in the West (and in democracies, governments can’t be far behind) is gradually reducing its support for Israel as the West looks askance at the Jewish state’s treatment of its Palestinian neighbors and wards. The Holocaust is increasingly becoming a faint and ineffectual memory and the Arab states are increasingly powerful and assertive.
More specifically, Israel faces a combination of dire threats. To the east, Iran is frantically advancing its nuclear project, which most Israelis and most of the world’s intelligence agencies believe is designed to produce nuclear weapons. This, coupled with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s public threats to destroy Israel — and his denials of the Holocaust and of any homosexuality in Iran, which underscore his irrationality — has Israel’s political and military leaders on tenterhooks.
To the north, the Lebanese fundamentalist organization Hezbollah, which also vows to destroy Israel and functions as an Iranian proxy, has thoroughly rearmed since its war with Israel in 2006. According to Israeli intelligence estimates, Hezbollah now has an arsenal of 30,000 to 40,000 Russian-made rockets, supplied by Syria and Iran — twice the number it possessed in 2006. Some of the rockets can reach Tel Aviv and Dimona, where Israel’s nuclear production facility is located. If there is war between Israel and Iran, Hezbollah can be expected to join in. (It may well join in the renewed Israeli-Palestinian conflict, too.)
To the south, Israel faces the Islamist Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip and whose charter promises to destroy Israel and bring every inch of Palestine under Islamic rule and law. Hamas today has an army of thousands. It also has a large arsenal of rockets — home-made Qassams and Russian-made, Iranian-financed Katyushas and Grads smuggled, with the Egyptians largely turning a blind eye, through tunnels from Sinai.
Last June, Israel and Hamas agreed to a six-month truce. This unsteady calm was periodically violated by armed factions in Gaza that lobbed rockets into Israel’s border settlements. Israel responded by periodically suspending shipments of supplies into Gaza.
In November and early December, Hamas stepped up the rocket attacks and then, unilaterally, formally announced the end of the truce. The Israeli public and government then gave Defense Minister Ehud Barak a free hand. Israel’s highly efficient air assault on Hamas, which began on Saturday, was his first move. Most of Hamas’s security and governmental compounds were turned into rubble and several hundred Hamas fighters were killed.
But the attack will not solve the basic problem posed by a Gaza Strip populated by 1.5 million impoverished, desperate Palestinians who are ruled by a fanatic regime and are tightly hemmed in by fences and by border crossings controlled by Israel and Egypt.
An enormous Israeli ground operation aimed at conquering the Gaza Strip and destroying Hamas would probably bog down in the alleyways of refugee camps before achieving its goal. (And even if these goals were somehow achieved, renewed and indefinite Israeli rule over Gaza would prove unpalatable to all concerned.)
More likely are small, limited armored incursions, intended to curtail missile launches and kill Hamas fighters. But these are also unlikely to bring the organization to heel — though they may exercise sufficient pressure eventually to achieve, with the mediation of Turkey or Egypt, a renewed temporary truce. That seems to be the most that can be hoped for, though a renewal of rocket attacks on southern Israel, once Hamas recovers, is as certain as day follows night.
The fourth immediate threat to Israel’s existence is internal. It is posed by the country’s Arab minority. Over the past two decades, Israel’s 1.3 million Arab citizens have been radicalized, with many openly avowing a Palestinian identity and embracing Palestinian national aims. Their spokesmen say that their loyalty lies with their people rather than with their state, Israel. Many of the community’s leaders, who benefit from Israeli democracy, more or less publicly supported Hezbollah in 2006 and continue to call for “autonomy” (of one sort or another) and for the dissolution of the Jewish state.
Demography, if not Arab victory in battle, offers the recipe for such a dissolution. The birth rates for Israeli Arabs are among the highest in the world, with 4 or 5 children per family (as opposed to the 2 or 3 children per family among Israeli Jews).
If present trends persist, Arabs could constitute the majority of Israel’s citizens by 2040 or 2050. Already, within five to 10 years, Palestinians (Israeli Arabs coupled with those who live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip) will form the majority population of Palestine (the land lying between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean).
Friction between Israeli Arabs and Jews is already a cogent political factor. In 2000, at the start of the second intifada, thousands of Arab youngsters, in sympathy with their brethren in the territories, rioted along Israel’s major highways and in Israel’s ethnically mixed cities.
The past fortnight has seen a recurrence, albeit on a smaller scale, of such rioting. Down the road, Israel’s Jews fear more violence and terrorism by Israeli Arabs. Most Jews see the Arab minority as a potential fifth column.
What is common to these specific threats is their unconventionality. Between 1948 and 1982 Israel coped relatively well with the threat from conventional Arab armies. Indeed, it repeatedly trounced them. But Iran’s nuclear threat, the rise of organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah that operate from across international borders and from the midst of dense civilian populations, and Israeli Arabs’ growing disaffection with the state and their identification with its enemies, offer a completely different set of challenges. And they are challenges that Israel’s leaders and public, bound by Western democratic and liberal norms of behavior, appear to find particularly difficult to counter.
Israel’s sense of the walls closing in on it has this past week led to one violent reaction. Given the new realities, it would not be surprising if more powerful explosions were to follow.