As I have been watching the situation in Israel and Lebanon unfold, like most of you, I have experienced a variety of emotions. I watched the “Meet the Press” episode last week when Newt Gingrich predicted that this was the beginning of World War 3 and felt a chill run up my spine…I wondered if he was right. I wonder what it must be like to be Israel and be surrounded on every side by your enemies and it makes me feel tired. Have those people ever experienced a sense of peace and safety? I felt my eyes well up with tears when I heard that Nazareth, Jesus’s hometown, was being bombed. This morning, I watched David Gregory talk to a man in Lebanon about the many children who have been killed and the many more who are lying injured in hospitals throughout the country. Gregory, who I often see on the Today show and other NBC programming, seemed shaken by the report and temporarily seemed to be unable to control the emotion in his voice. I felt tears running down my face as I thought what it must be like to be a mother in Lebanon and Israel right now…praying to God that the men in power would get their act together and end the violence that was threatening the very life of my babies.
There are no easy solutions to a decades long dispute, but I am glad to hear that Condeleeza Rice is headed over there finally. I think we are obligated to put pressure on Israel and Lebanon to find a solution…here is what the Presbyterian Church USA Stated Clerk of the General Assembly Clifton Kirkpatrick said, in part, to President Bush in a letter written on July 14:
We denounce the provocative actions of Hezbollah, and we fully recognize and support Israel’s right to self-defense. However, the disproportionate force being used by the Israeli military against Lebanon has caused the indiscriminate deaths of scores of Lebanese civilians, as well as major damage to Lebanon’s infrastructure. It further escalates the violence, destabilizes an already weak Lebanese government, and, in turn, destabilizes the region.
We urge you to put pressure on all parties to find a diplomatic solution to this crisis. We urge you to work with the United Nations to put pressure on Hezbollah and its supporters to stop attacks on Israel and to return the kidnapped soldiers. And, we urge you to work in partnership with Israel to restrain the disproportionate use of military force.
As Presbyterians, we understand God’s gift of peace to be most profoundly exemplified in the life and ministry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Christ calls all who profess faith in him to share the gospel message of peace in a broken and insecure world. We believe we are called to build a culture of peace for all of God’s children. We must have the courage to believe that peace is possible and take the steps necessary to achieve this goal (emphasis mine.)
The people of the Middle East, the birthplace of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, are groaning under the burden of war and desperately desire peace. We implore you to not allow the extremists of the region to dictate the reality and final outcome of this situation. What is needed now is a sane and diplomatic voice, which the United States can provide.
I thought the line that I put in bold was particularly powerful. I think we have given up on the idea that peace is possible…I think we consider a desire, a demand, a goal of peace as being idealistic and naive. I think we have given up on the idea that there can ever be an end to the violence. But, if it were my babies living in a war zone, I would sure be praying that somebody, somewhere would get creative about finding an alternative to bombs.