Pray for Gaza

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Gaza is a grim situation, yet I am yet full of hope. As a younger man, I never believed that the Berlin wall would fall and I never imagined a day when South Africa would be led by a majority government. And I certainly never thought a black man would ever be elected President of the United States! With God all things are possible, even new life for Gaza. Will you pray with me?


They are raining bombs on Gaza, and it cuts me to the quick! Will you pray with me for these people and for justice?

Here’s the brief history, as I see it, that led up to this terrible assault:

  • First the occupying force hermetically sealed in the people of Gaza on all sides, creating an enormous open-air prison.
  • Then they destroyed Gaza’s only power station (claiming that mischief-makers can’t work in the dark) thus making the population entirely dependent on Israel, not only for power but for fresh water (which is pumped into the region by electric pumps).
  • Then they tightened control at all the checkpoints coming in and going out of Gaza – restricting all exports and imports, including food and medical supplies and most significantly of all, gas – the fuel that could be used to fire stoves to boil impure water and so maintain health standards, as the freshly pumped water became unavailable.

“The idea”, Dov Weisglass (the Israeli Prime Minister’s advisor) said, ‘is to put the Palestinians on a diet’, so that they would recognise their own stupidity in electing the Hamas government. The inevitable result of course was ever-increasing suffering across the entire population – unemployment running rife, disease breaking out, hospitals not being able to operate their machinery or get necessary supplies, and in one case, a whole family drowning in raw human sewerage!

The people of Gaza were expected to put their faith in the peace process – hoping that the Israelis and the Americans would honour their commitment to bringing them freedom, but we knew that they eventually had to break. Sooner or later they had to lose their patience and hit back in whatever way they could.

And they did lose their patience. And they did hit back! They fired their pathetic home-made rockets across the walls of their prison. And this was all the excuse the Israeli government needed to launch a massive aerial assault against the people, targeting police stations, massacring civilians, and killing children while they slept in their beds, all the while wagging their finger and saying to the Gazans, “You only have yourselves to blame!”

And the most sickening part of it all, to me as an observer, is to hear my fellow Australians, along with most of the rest of the Western world, chiming in with this sick and paternalistic mantra – “You Gazans only have yourselves to blame”.

Are we really that stupid? Did we really buy the spin? Is it really even remotely conceivable to see this assault as an act of self-defence?

I think the media has convinced us over the years that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is like one endless and bloody boxing match where the fighters, even if not equally matched, are nonetheless fighting a fair stand-up stoush. In truth though, this stoush is more like watching Mike Tyson beat up on a 10-year-old schoolboy. Each round the youngster struggles back to his feet, and then he’s immediately knocked straight back down to the canvas!

The only problem with this boxing analogy is that even Tyson wouldn’t keep kicking the little fella while he was down, whereas the IDF have never let up on with their raids, housing demolitions, detentions without trial, and extra-judicial killings, even during so-called ceasefires.

Lord, have mercy! This fight needs to end!

I’m sick of seeing the little guy get thumped, but in truth, I’ve got no desire to see him rise from the canvas to deal a surprise knockout blow to the Israelis either. I don’t idealise the Palestinian leadership, I don’t want to see the destruction of the State of Israel, and I don’t want to see rough justice meted out to the Israelis as a payback for their years of oppression. But something needs to give! This fight can’t be allowed to just drag on and on until the lesser opponent eventually drowns in his own blood or makes an equally bloody comeback. But what is it that keeps the whole thing going?

If you’re in a boxing match and you are winning every round, perhaps you don’t need it to end, but in truth, I can see as many people in the Israeli corner calling for peace as I can in the Palestinian corner. So who is keeping the fight going? Is the referee to blame – President George Dubya? I don’t think he can take the entirety of the blame, though he certainly hasn’t helped. At any rate, that referee is about to be replaced (thanks be to God)!

Perhaps it’s the pugilists themselves who have the greatest vested interest in keeping the fight going, or is it the crowd, made of all three Peoples of The Book – people who believe the hype they’ve been fed by their respective medias and are fuelled with misguided religious zeal, and so bay for blood?

In truth, this tragedy should never have been about religion, except in so far as true religion extols mercy, forgiveness and peace. It certainly should never have been about Jew versus Muslim, Muslim versus Christian, etc. Rather, it’s always been a struggle between humanity and inhumanity, justice and injustice, the truth versus the lie. But the problem is that we who believe in humanity, justice and truth remain silent in the face of this horror, and so leave the stage to misguided zealots who would hijack this people’s suffering to serve their own ideological agendas.

The path for us at least is clear, and it is NOT to remain silent in the face of this horrific injustice. We must speak out in the name of humanity and love. And those of us who are of a genuine faith must show these people what true religion is about – about mercy, forgiveness and love.

It is a grim situation, yet I am yet full of hope. As a younger man, I never believed that the Berlin wall would fall and I never imagined a day when South Africa would be led by a majority government. And I certainly never thought a black man would ever be elected President of the United States!

With God all things are possible, even new life for Gaza. Will you pray with me, and do whatever you can for the cause of justice and peace in Palestine?

Rev. David B. Smith

Parish priest, community worker,
martial arts master, pro boxer,
author, father of four.

www.FatherDave.org

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About Father Dave

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four
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