A Reflection on the Violence in Palestine and Israel

Dear Alliance Family,

You are aware by now that there has been an intensification of the conflict and violence in the region of Palestine and Israel. While the strife has been ongoing for many decades, this past weekend it escalated dramatically after Hamas attacked the State of Israel. Trapped in the thick of this war are millions of civilians who are living in the midst of violence, despair, and uncertainty. Gaza in particular is under siege in which food, water, and electricity have been shut off. We join our ecumenical and denominational partners and people all over the world as we mourn the lives of all those lost, call for an immediate end to the war, abhor the reports of crimes against humanity, and call on our government and world leaders to work towards peace and not the expansion of war.  As a member of Churches for Middle East Peace, The Alliance of Baptists is actively committed to doing our part to raise our moral voice and work towards the ultimate resolution of this conflict and the conditions that ignited it so that Palestinians and Israelis alike can determine their own just and peaceful futures. 

We also know that given the particular intensity of the conflict this week, the world is now watching and many people are just now learning about many of the potent issues driving this war. Alongside the physical violence, there is also a war of information, with many forces fighting to control the narrative. In this context it is tempting to rush to narrow, shallow, and limited conclusions in which we believe our only option is to stingily allocate our moral budgets. We should resist this temptation. And instead we should seek resources to help us understand the roots of this conflict and its ongoing and dynamic nature, as well as rely upon and develop our own theological and moral resources that help us expand our capacity to be compassionate, imaginative, and ultimately constructive. 

Fortunately for those of us who are a part of the Alliance, we have long cared about the conditions of Palestine and Israel and the particular plight of Palestinians as they struggle for freedom. Last year, the Alliance joined other denominations and human rights groups in naming the apartheid conditions enacted upon the Palestinian people by the State of Israel. Informed by friends on the ground, we have sought to end these conditions as a way of pre-empting further violence so that all in the region are free to have life and life more abundantly. Additionally we continue to be in relationship with our partners including Bright Stars of Bethlehem, and we heed the wisdom of Mitri Raheb from our Annual Gathering a few years ago. We also in this moment are reminded of the significant and important call that more than a decade ago GJ and Kay Tarazi and others sounded for a community devoted to helping to bring justice and peace in Palestine and Israel. All of this tells us that the Alliance has been actively engaged in working for peace and will remain engaged.

Throughout all of this work we’ve constructed resources that will be made available to you if you would like to deepen your understanding of the situation and raise your voice in calling for a just and peaceful resolution to this conflict. In the coming days we will make some of these resources available, especially those that have been compiled directly by our Justice in Palestine & Israel (JPI) community as they offer context, personal narrative, and theological reflection which is much needed in this moment. I hope you take the time to work through what will be provided so that you can see a bigger picture than just the expanded war which is being actively sold to us right now. As followers of the Prince of Peace, we are in a tradition that mandates that we work for peace throughout the world. We also note that true peace must be accompanied by justice. That mandate is no different today. And so we work for the day that the prophet Isaiah claimed when we no longer have to study war and our swords are turned into plowshares. 

-The Executive Committee of the Board of Directors and Staff of the Alliance of Baptists 

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