Dear editor,The violence unfolding in Israel/Palestine is horrifying and heartbreaking. As a follower of Jesus, I stand for peace and am opposed to killing. And as Dr. Martin Luther King said, “There can be no justice without peace and there can be no peace without justice.” The tensions between peace and justice makes this conflict so heavy and morally disturbing.
The brutal loss of life and hostage-taking on Oct. 7 left me speechless, and now the horrific violence of the Israeli response grinds on relentlessly. I grapple with painful images, rhetoric from activists and media on both sides, and the various claims for justice. I am guided by our core values of passionate learning, global citizenship and compassionate peacemaking, as I work to transform my feelings of horror and heartbreak into active love. Here are a few things on my mind and heart.
Learn more. This conflict did not begin on Oct. 7; it arises from a long and complicated history. I need to study history; indeed, multiple histories. I need to listen to the voices of Palestinians and Israelis, of Jews, Muslims, Christians and all those living in the region.
Pay attention to power; the imbalance is vast. Israel is the fourth greatest military power in the world. The Gaza Strip is 25 miles long and five miles wide, with 2.2 million inhabitants. Half are children, and 80% of them live in poverty.
Hold the hurt in prayer. Violence causes trauma, which begets more violence. Antisemitism and Islamophobia are rising, and Jews and Muslims are hurting. Hold in mind someone affected, who may be yourself, and breathe God’s love to them.
If you also want to learn more, today I posted in my blog several resources from a variety of perspectives that I found helpful. Be well and stay connected.
Rebecca Stoltzfus is the 18th president of Goshen College.