Editorial — Never-ending violence

Once again, mothers and fathers in Israel and in the Palestinian camps are broken hearted in the way only a parent who has lost a child can be.

Once again, day after day, headlines are filled with news of the never-ending struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinians — between people who fear for their existence and others who want their land and water and olive groves returned to them.

Again and again we see pictures of boys and young men on one side of the wall futilely gathering piles of rocks to hurl at Israeli soldiers in tanks, while Israeli planes — even more invulnerable to a thrown rock — drop bombs and rockets and destroy homes and business and lives.

On the other hand in this never-ending circle of animosity, more radical Palestinians will fire unguided yet-dangerous rockets into Israel, adding to both Israeli anger and their own frustration.

No one has words of comfort for those involved in this continuing struggle; politicians on both sides spew mostly vitriol.

This latest round of violence began when someone — probably Palestinian militants — kidnapped and killed three Israeli teens for no other reason, most likely, than they were Jewish.

Though no one has said so officially, the day after the trio’s bodies were found, someone — probably Israeli militants — repeatedly stabbed, then burned to death a 17-year-old Palestinian boy, most likely for no other reason than the fact he was Palestinian; he lived on the other side of the wall.

If it weren’t so tragic, it would all sound so childish — especially when the roots of the people on both sides are traced back to their very beginnings, back to the story of Isaac and Ishmael.

These are basically the same people, though they profess different religions and believe their histories involve different heritage.

But no one listens to fact or reason. The Israeli’s hold the upper hand militarily — they generally always have since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and probably always will — though they are quick to note that their nation is surrounded by people who want them destroyed; people who, if given the chance, would push them into the sea.

The Palestinians point to the taking of their land for the creation of Israel and its expanding camps and claim the rest of the world ignores their plight.

Meanwhile, those who criticize Israeli policies are, in turn, criticized themselves, called “anti-Semitic,” as if criticism of aggressive Zionism, the questioning the actions of the Israeli state is tantamount to being anti-Jewish. It isn’t.

But comprehending that difference involves common sense, and common sense doesn’t often apply in this continuing display of mankind at its worst.

After the bodies of the Israelis were found, the Catholic News Service (CNS) reported that Pope Francis telephoned Rome’s chief rabbi to personally express his sadness over the murder of the kidnapped Israeli teens. He spoke of the “unspeakable suffering” of their parents.

While that act of kindness was occurring, the Israeli military launched what it described as “precision strikes” on 34 sites in the Gaza Strip, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The Israeli Defense Forces said the strikes were in response to 18 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel June 29-30. On and on it goes.

CNS reported that the three teens were kidnapped as they were hitchhiking home from their school in a cluster of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, near Bethlehem — birthplace of the Prince of Peace.

Israeli officials accused Hamas, which recently formed a coalition government with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, of being responsible for the abduction.

Abbas condemned the kidnapping, and said Palestinian security forces were coordinating with the Israelis to find the kidnappers.

Auxiliary Bishop William Shomali, chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, had asked anyone with information about the kidnapping of the three teens to come forward and help return the youths to their families, according to the AP. At the same time, on June 25 before the bodies were found on June 30, he called on the Israeli army to keep its reaction and its search methods proportionate.

“Kidnapping three Israeli young people is not fair, and is against human rights and human dignity. We are opposed to this; this is not the right way to make peace,” he told Catholic News Service. “(But) the reaction of the Israeli army is disproportionate to what happened.”

At that point, he said, Israeli army forces had arrested some 600 Palestinians in their search for the youth.

In other parts of the Middle East, Christians in Iraq and Syria continue to fear for their lives in the midst of that on-going miasma of misguided violence. And while all of this is happening, Pope Francis — trying to insert some calm into a world of violence — once again asked the nations of the world to ban land mines, weapons that continue to kill the innocent long after conflicts have ended.

So, as violence blooms like dandelions in spring, the pope and others dedicated to peace continue trying, continue praying, continue reminding people that God asks us only to “love one another.”

Isn’t it sad that such a simple message frequently falls on deaf ears.

Glenn Rutherford
Record Editor

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