Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Tradition Of Hate

On June 12th, 2014, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped, and later killed, in Gush Etzion, in the West Bank, as they were hitchhiking to their homes.  Under the assumption Hamas (a Palestinian Sunni Islamic organization, with a military wing known as the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades) committed the crime, the Israeli military began bombing Gaza.

Since then, rockets have killed multiple civilians and destroyed infrastructure on both sides.  As the death toll has risen, diplomats have appeared on Meet The Press, and other talk shows, to explain their  solution to the crisis.  Such conversations are based on the idea that this struggle is over political goals, land acquisition, or justice.  It’s not.  If it were, the fact that Hamas has been cleared of the June murders would have ended the conflict.

This is a conflict about hate and blame.  Israel blames Hamas for suicide bombings, Hamas blames Israel for 30 murders committed in a Hebron mosque by Baruch Goldstein, and the blame goes back and back and back four millennia before we’re done.

4,000 years ago, when Abraham was one hundred years old and his wife ninety, Sarah gave birth to a son. Abraham called him Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day, making him a party to the holy covenant God had established with Abraham.

However, Isaac was not Abraham’s first born, for Hagar had borne him Ishmael thirteen years earlier. Sarah implored Abraham to send Ishmael away. Abraham feared to send his son away but, God told Abraham to do as Sarah had requested.  Thus, Abraham  sent Hagar and Ishmael away, providing them with water and food for the journey.

Lost and near starvation, Hagar and Ishmael were saved from death by an angel. God blessed the boy, for he was Abraham’s son. Ishmael grew to have many children. His children multiplied and became known under the name of Ishmaelites, or Arabs, the people of the desert.

Meanwhile, Abraham was commanded to sacrifice Isaac.  He prepared to do so, only to be stopped by God at the very last moment.  Touched by Abraham's obedience, the angel of God called unto Abraham a second time out of heaven and said, "By Myself have I sworn, says the Lord, that because you have done this thing and you did not withhold your son, your only one, that I will surely bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand that is on the seashore, and your descendants will inherit the cities of their enemies.“

As a result of this blessing, Isaac fathered Jacob, later renamed Israel, who fathered the children of Israel, or the Israelites.  The Israelites have been feuding with the Ishmaelites ever since.

The current conflict may have been triggered by the June murders, but it was NEVER about those crimes.  As bizarre as it sounds to many of us, the current crisis is simply an extension of the conflict initiated by Sarah’s jealously.  The murders were an excuse for the fighting to start, and the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Jerusalem are simply trophies in an age old tradition of hate.

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