Sunday, June 11, 2006

Another analogy comparing events in the Occupied Territory in Palestine to the Holocaust.

I was discussing the ELCA's social statement on the wall in Palestine with some guys who are more politically conservative than me. An analogy crept into my head and I thought I'd try to flesh it out in a blog post first.

It involves comparing things happening in Palestine to what happened in Nazi Germany. I have this historical stuff in my head because I've been reading A Testament to Freedom : the Essential Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Some leftists have engaged in an inflammatory version of this analogy, saying that the Israelis are doing to the residents of Palestine exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews. This analogy onece worked for me, but it hasn't worked for me as my understanding grew. I've got a new angle, and it's inspired by reading Bonhoeffer's frustration of seeing a culture in decline into violence. My analogy is that the Lutheran presence on the ground in Palestine is like Deitrich Bonhoeffer, wailing at the gates as a society falls into madness.

Let's put in this analogy Hamas is like the Nazis, and what the political atmosphere there is like 1930's Germany.

Pastor Mitri Raheb of the Lutheran Church in Bethlehem noted that the only Christian candidates in the recent election were all in Arafat's old party. They stood for election against Hamas. I have heard through hearsay that Pastor Raheb personally wasn't too thrilled even with the idea of Arafat's vision for ruling should he have come into full power, in that Arafat promised eventually to invoke the sharia, where Christians wouldn't have much freedom. A few years ago, I read a sermon Bishop Younan of the ELCJ which expressed sadness not only at the Israeli treatment of Palestinians but also explicitly condemned the saber rattling of Arafat. I believe that the Christian church on the ground in the region ultimately is the key to lessening the extremism of the violent factions there-- that it has a track record of being the most vocal opposition to the violence of Hamas. Pray for them. To me, they read like the Bonhoeffer of 1938.

The Lutheran presence on the ground is also informing us that the poor common people cannot bear it any longer. Pastor Raheb spoke of the frustration and anger he felt when his father had a heart attack and the ambulance was stopped up by Israeli checkpoints.

The Christian Church in the West however, too often has the wrong idea. Looking for spiritual brethren in the region, it ignores the existence of churches in the east. It does not recognize the courageous witness of the "Bonhoeffers" on the ground there, it views any criticism they make of the Israeli military as Hamas propaganda. Drunk on a binge of Social Darwinism, Gospel of Prosperity, Theology of Glory, and economic libertinism, it cannot see suffering for what it is. Pray for us.

No comments: