On July 21, 2014, the World Evangelical Alliance issued a press statement concerning the current conflict between Hamas and Israel, titled: “WEA Joins Christians in the Holy Land in Calling for an Immediate End to the Violent Hostilities.”
As an introduction to statements from three evangelical leaders in the region, the WEA said the following:
The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) calls for an immediate end to the violent hostilities in the Israeli-Gaza conflict and for both sides to return to good faith negotiations. As Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, Secretary General of the WEA, stated earlier this year in a speech in Bethlehem: “The suffering, grief and despair of Christians, Muslims or Jews are an affront to humanity. Their suffering, grief and despair are an affront to God.” The WEA also joins Christians in the Holy Land in calling for prayer for peace in their country.
On the surface, this statement may appear to be an appropriate Christian response to the conflict between Hamas and Israel. After all, the WEA has called for an end to violence and has issued a call for prayer. However, this appeal reveals an astounding level of naivety and obliviousness concerning the nature of Hamas and the reasons behind the “violent hostilities.”
Whether it is through ignorance or a willful decision to neglect facts, the WEA has demonstrated a profound degree of irresponsibility for an organization that claims to represent 600 million evangelicals worldwide. As a result, this statement is anything but an appropriate Christian response to current events.
WEA Asks Hamas to Negotiate in “Good Faith”
If the WEA were to acknowledge the facts about Hamas – such as their refusal to recognize the existence of Israel, their enmity against the Jewish people as a whole, and their rejection of all negotiations towards a diplomatic solution – this statement could have never been issued.
In the very first sentence, the organization demonstrates its total blindness concerning the nature of the Hamas/Israel conflict. By appealing to both sides “to return to good faith negotiations,” the WEA implies that both sides have demonstrated “good faith” in negotiations in the past.
However, there are no past negotiations to return to because Hamas does not believe in negotiating with Israel. Any attempt to reach a peaceful solution is contrary to the beliefs of Hamas. The hostilities between Hamas and Israel have a long history that has its roots in the fundamental essentials of Hamas’ identity and its opposition to the existence of the State of Israel. Indeed articles seven, thirteen and twenty-eight of the Hamas charter make Hamas’ intent to destroy Israel and annihilate every Jew crystal clear.
The truth about Hamas is not hard to learn. The essentials of its identity and beliefs are publicly known. The fact that Gaza is used as a launching pad from which to fire rockets at Israel is common knowledge. It requires an astounding degree of naivety and obliviousness for the WEA to expect Hamas to negotiate in good faith with Israel about anything.
Moral Equivalency and Equal Responsibility
As further demonstration of their profound irresponsibility, this statement from the WEA seeks to create a sense of moral equivalency and equal responsibility for the conflict by appealing to “both sides” to stop the violence. The attempt to create this equivalency has also been tried by other Christian organizations, but in every case, the effort only reveals the moral blindness that results from being oblivious of the facts.
Rev. Harry Tees and the So-Called “Spiral of Violence”
The appeal issued by the WEA includes statements from three evangelical leaders in the region, which provide additional examples of the blind attempt to create equal responsibility for the conflict and a non-existent moral equivalency between Hamas and Israel. The first of these statements was made by Rev. Harry Tees, WEA Ambassador to the Holy Land, who stated: “We, the Evangelicals in the Middle East and in particular in the Holy Land, are saddened by the spiral of violence that once again is ripping through our beloved neighborhoods.”
The use of the term “spiral of violence” has been used ad nauseam in virtually every conflict involving Israel as a way to make the role of Israel and whoever is attacking them appear equal. This expression not only suggests that there is equal responsibility for the violence, but it proposes that the actions taken by both sides are morally equal as well.
However, nothing could be farther from the truth. In contrast to its enemies, who initiate violence against Israel for the purpose of annihilating the Jewish State, Israel does not seek the destruction of its neighbors. Israel is not involved in this conflict for the purpose of destroying the people of Gaza. Rather, just as in past wars, Israel fights to eliminate military threats in order to protect its own civilians.
In contrast to Hamas, which targets Israeli citizens with death, the IDF targets the
instruments of death and destroys weapons, rocket launchers and tunnels, all of which have been used, and are intended for use, for the purpose of killing Israelis. This fact is evident from the statements and actions of both Hamas and Israel, but those who attempt to create false equivalencies conveniently ignore it.
It should be obvious to anyone even casually familiar with the realities on the ground that if Israel wanted to wipe out Gaza, it certainly could have done so. This actuality places Israel in a completely different category than Hamas, in terms of morality and responsibility for the violence, and Tees demonstrates his moral blindness by suggesting there is any equivalency between the two.
Rev. Charles Kopp and “This Latest Round of Death and Destruction”
Rev. Charles (Chuck) Kopp, Chairman of the Evangelical Alliance of Israel also demonstrates this naïve and morally blind attempt to equate the actions of Israel with those of Hamas. He said: “We need to come out of this latest round of death and destruction and agree to place this quagmire of despair behind us, and transcend these latest attempts to assassinate what is left of our brotherhood in Christ by loving one another more fervently.”
The use of the phrase “this latest round of death and destruction” makes the same implications as the term “spiral of violence” by suggesting that all things are equal between the intent and actions of Israel and Hamas. Kopp also repeats the error made by the WEA in its introduction to this statement through his apparent belief that Hamas is amenable to agreeing, “to place this quagmire of despair behind us.” As demonstrated through their charter and their actions, it is obvious that Hamas has no interest in stopping the death and destruction.
Dr. Munir Kakish Pleads, Could We Please Just “Stop the fighting”
And finally, Dr. Munir Kakish, Chairman of the Council of Local Evangelical Churches in the Holy Land (representing evangelicals in the Palestinian Territories), declares: “We ask Israelis and Palestinians to stop the fighting. We as a council want to be a bridge of peace to all people. We feel very strongly that killing – no matter where – is not a Godly response. War is not the answer. Negotiations are the proper path to solve conflicts.”
This is an appeal that will certainly fall on deaf ears in the case of Hamas. As in the case of the WEA and the previous two spokesmen, Kakish demonstrates that he has no comprehension of the Hamas charter, and knows nothing of the essentials of Hamas’ identity or the history of the conflict with Israel.
In spite of the fact that Kakish feels strongly that killing and war are not the answer and that negotiations “are the proper path to solve conflicts,” the reality on the ground is that Hamas does not agree. And in light of what the Hamas Charter states, as well as the history of their actions, it is not reasonable for Kakish or the WEA to expect that their appeal for an “immediate end to the violent hostilities” is going to get the hoped-for response from Hamas.
Indeed, an understanding of the nature of Hamas and the reasons behind the conflict makes it clear that there is absolutely no equivalence in responsibility for the violence between Hamas and Israel.
Hamas repeatedly initiates violence and Israel is repeatedly put in the position of ending Hamas’ ability to continue that violence.
Hamas has made it clear that its goal is to destroy Israel and Israel has made it clear that its goal is to protect the lives of its citizens.
Hamas had made it clear that they will not stop the violence until Israel ceases to exist and Israel has made it clear that it will not stop protecting its right to exist.
The WEA, Rev. Harry Tees, Rev. Charles Kopp, and Dr. Munir Kakish need to face the facts.
Hamas and the Absence of Moral Equivalency
Hamas believes that the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of all Jews is what their god requires of them. In the pursuit of this goal, it even uses its own civilians as human shields. As Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the US said:
They’re (Hamas) the ones who are putting their civilians in harm’s way. They use the strategy of human shields for a reason, because they think it works. They think that Israel will be blamed for these civilian casualties. Hamas should be [held] responsible for the use of human shields.
Before bombing a rocket launching site or weapons cache in Gaza, the Israeli military gives notice of the intended targets through phone calls and text messages, leaflets, and “knocks” on the roof of the targeted building before launching a mission. This method of operation not only gives civilians a chance to flee, but it warns enemy combatants as well. There is no other military in the world that gives its enemy time to escape in the interest of preventing civilian casualties.
By way of contrast, Palestinian leadership insists that their civilians ignore the warnings from the IDF and stay in targeted areas. In a statement on Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas) on July 14, 2014, this leadership said:
We call on our Palestinian people, particularly the residents of northwest Gaza, not to obey what is written in the pamphlets distributed by the Israeli occupation army. We call on them to remain in their homes and disregard the demands to leave, however serious the threat may be.
The strategy of Hamas is clear, and their actions constitute two war crimes. They shoot rockets at Israeli civilians – a war crime under international law – until Israel is forced to respond in order to protect its citizens. They endanger the lives of their own citizens – the second war crime – by storing and shooting those rockets from homes, schools, mosques, and hospitals. They then ensure the availability of civilians as human shields by preventing them from fleeing and emphasizing the glories of martyrdom for the sake of the cause.
This is a very successful strategy because Hamas knows that the more pictures of dead children the world sees, the more the world will condemn Israel. This propaganda technique works thanks to the help of a media that is oftentimes, willingly deceived.
A Moral Imperative to be Different
As a Christian organization, the WEA has a moral imperative to be different, and to not be deceived by the methods of Hamas. Therefore, when it makes a statement such as, “The suffering, grief and despair of Christians, Muslims or Jews are an affront to humanity…(and) to God,” it commits a profound travesty of justice. This is because reflections like this ignore Hamas’ abuse of its own citizens and imply that the suffering of the people in Gaza is solely the result of Israel’s military actions.
This remark seems to reflect equal concern for the suffering of all people involved. However, the suggestion that the suffering of the people of Gaza is the fault of the IDF is a serious one for a Christian organization to make due the logical conclusion that can be made. It is only one small step between the implication that the suffering in Gaza is the result of actions taken by the Israel, and the conclusion that the Jewish State is “an affront to humanity…(and) to God.”
In making this statement, the WEA perverts justice by ignoring Hamas’ abuse of its own citizens, and by setting the stage for Christian condemnation of Israel’s acts of self-defense.
What Israel Does versus What Hamas Does
Israel consistently exhibits a willingness to negotiate for peace. Hamas declares that any kind of negotiations “are a waste of time and a farce.”
Israel left Gaza in the hope of securing peace. Hamas turned that land into a terrorist stronghold from which to attack Israel.
Israel gave the people of Gaza an opportunity to establish an independent state that could live in peace next to Israel. Hamas demonstrates through their charter and their actions that this is not their intent.
As a result, Israel’s citizens have been on the receiving end of over 11,000 rockets shot from Gaza since Hamas came to power, while Hamas uses their own citizens as shields for those rockets.
Because Hamas continues to demonstrate its genocidal objective both in word and deed, Israel has no other alternative but to do what every government has the responsibility to do, which is to protect the lives of its civilians by disarming those who seek their destruction.
The WEA’s appeal for an end to the hostilities not only reveals an alarming state of obliviousness concerning Hamas’ genocidal intent towards the Jews, but it exhibits an astounding level of moral blindness as well. This is because moral blindness is a prerequisite to the attempt to create any kind of equivalency between the morality of the IDF and that of Hamas, when in fact, the absence of equivalency could not be more profound.
An Appropriate Christian Response
The World Evangelical Alliance needs to recognize their spiritual and moral responsibility to put an end to their oblivious mindset by learning the truth about the essentials of Hamas’ identity.
They must take off the moral blinders that enable them to produce statements that suggest there is some kind of moral equivalency between Israel and Hamas, because in so doing, they give legitimacy to a terrorist organization that exists for the purpose of destroying the Jewish State.
In the name of justice, and in light of the spiritual and historical legacy of the Holocaust, this Christian organization should feel compelled to take a stand against any organization that, through its actions and printed charters, declares its intent to annihilate all Jews.
Furthermore, The WEA should face the fact that Hamas, and other organizations like them, seeks the destruction of Christians and Christianity as well. Rather than trying to persuade a terrorist group that has no interest in negotiating to negotiate, this organization’s efforts would be far better spent advocating for t
he millions of Christians in the Middle East who are being raped and crucified, and are being forced to convert, pay exorbitant taxes or flee.
And while they are advocating for their own who are suffering horrific persecution, it wouldn’t hurt if they acknowledged that Israel is the only country in that part of the world where Christians have freedom of religion and are protected from persecution by the laws of the State.