Shepton Beauchamp

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church:vicars_letters:february2009

Two Sides to Any Argument

Fr Geoff
I think everyone will agree that the recent violence in the Gaza Strip has been quite appalling; I think it also true to say that the overwhelming force used by Israel has resulted in horrendous casualties amongst innocent people. However I think it also true to say that Hamas must carry a large proportion of the blame for this, though clearly the Israeli’s are not totally blameless; it does appear that they have used phosphorus weapons; they do seem to have hit innocent civilian targets.

It is usual for the press to side with those ranged against Israel, but there have been a few brave journalists who have gone against the tide of public press interest and have spoken up for Israel against Hamas. It was – after all – Hamas who were firing scores of rockets deliberately aimed at civilian targets in Israel before the Israeli’s invaded Gaza.

It has become clear that Hamas used their own people as human shields when the Israeli’s began to fight back. As I write this article (on 18th Jan) Israel has declared a cease-fire and begun a withdrawal of her forces to be met by a renewed rocket attack, against her undefended civilian towns, by Hamas.

Where are the true criminals in this sorry story?

If a European country fired rockets at a neighbours civilian towns and then refused all diplomatic opportunities to end the attack, would we be surprised if the defending state retaliated? Of course not.

Then why are so many speaking against Israel for defending her citizens in this instance? There are two sides to this story (this long, protracted, and difficult saga) and both sides involve pain and misunderstanding and fear and resentment; but both sides deserve to be heard properly and fairly. Somebody once said words to the effect that it only needs good people to say nothing to allow evil to triumph.

I read this prayer in Church today – I think it is a good place for us to start:

THE PEACE PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

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