By Ralph E. Moore, Jr.,
Special to the AFRO
My wife, Dana, and I spent 10 days in Israel in 2001. She was a guest of a Baltimore Jewish Council program, and I didn’t want her to go alone.
Without getting into the long, tortured history and politics of the Middle East and the war between Israel and Hamas, I believe most will agree there is too much violence, bloodshed and hate mongering saddled in that corner of the world.
The deaths of hundreds to thousands of innocent civilians, non-combatant children and elderly are already disappointing evidence from a war only about four weeks old. And the deaths of hundreds to thousands of innocent people, non-combatant children, elderly, and families (civilians), are already disappointing evidence from a war three weeks old or so.
“War is not the answer,” Marvin Gaye reminded us in his popular and prophetic 1971 album, “What’s Going On?” Rallies, taking place around the world these days, have folks picking a pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian side. The world is divided over a winless choice, unless you call the collateral damage of deaths, woundings and attacks on innocents winning. Let’s face it, antisemitism vs. Islamophobia are the driving hate-fueled prejudices for some, not all, but for far too many. The attack by Hamas that took place on Saturday, Oct. 7 appears clearly to be a turning point downward in already deteriorated Israeli-Palestinian relations. The propaganda wars precede and live past the armed ones and so they will go on…
The atrocities by Hamas in Israel overtake the nightly news. Bombs and hostages are hard to engender empathy for a side but cutting off food, water and electricity to a region irrespective of its innocent, civilian status also makes it impossible to feel supportive for those violations of international law and human rights.
Pope Francis, the leader worldwide of the Roman Catholic Church, spoke of “the sorrow and concern” for the war between the Israelis and Hamas. He “mourned the many people who have been killed and injured.” And he said, “I pray for those families who have seen a day of celebration turned into a day of mourning and ask for immediate release of the hostages.”
The pope acknowledged “the right of those attacked to defend themselves.” And I generally agree. But he expressed great concern for “the total siege facing the Palestinians in Gaza where there have also been many innocent victims.” The food, water and electricity of those people have been shut off. Simply put, there is plenty of violence and cruelty to go around in the name of war.
Another religious leader I respect is Rev. William Barber, co-chair of Unite the Poor and architect of Moral Mondays in North Carolina. In his recent statement, Barber said “We must say an emphatic ‘no’
to Hamas a thousand times.” I am weeping with my Jewish brothers and sisters.The stories
of civilians murdered and families kidnapped are gut wrenching. In grief, we are wrapped in
darkness, and there are no words to express the weight we feel.”
In the same statement he said, “I have spoken out many times against the injustices that I believe the Israeli government-not all Jewish people-are committing against Palestinians. I have done this with Jewish and Palestinian colleagues, and I will continue to challenge the wrong if Israel tells its military to murder innocent Palestinians as some form of retribution.” Finally, Barber stated, “If the United States stands by Israel as they unleash their military against Hamas, that’s one thing; but if military action is indiscriminate, with no regard for innocent people, just because of the horror of what has happened, moral voices must say that this too is wrong. Likewise, we must decry the irresponsible voices in the United States-many in extreme media-who are urging Israel to wipe out Gaza.” Reportedly, again, innocent Palestinians are stuck in Gaza and Gaza City.
I stand squarely on the side of peace, fairness and end to all wars. These are warring days, but we must work hard to see negotiations and peacefulness as the norms in modern society. Wars, it has been said, have never solved anything. We the moral voices in the public opinion square and hear them. WE must urge our government everywhere to pay heed to the moral voices out here on the side of life, non-violence and fairness to all. “Let there be peace on Earth.”