The comic above is trying to establish a moral equivalency between Hamas and Israel on the subject of the current round of bombings. It is a mistaken equivalency. If I were to draw a moral equivalency, I would do it on different reasons. However, discussing anything having to do with Israel and Hamas immediately triggers rabid reactions on both sides as is mocked in the video below.
What tends to happen in arguments about Israel is that we often concentrate on the incident in question while ignoring all previous history. USA theologically conservative Christians have been on Israel’s side since shortly after its founding. In part, it is because of the strong culture of apocalyptic thinking that permeated—and may still permeate—much of American culture. In that cultural viewpoint, we must support Israel because it is the equivalent of the third book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, “The Return of the King.” Many theologically conservative Americans see the existence of Israel as a necessary prelude to the return of Our Lord Jesus Christ. More than that, they see the building of Jewish settlements and the driving out of the people of the land as equivalent to the Old Testament wars of conquest. Many who follow that theology foresee not only the Reconquista of all the lands that Israel held under David & Solomon, but also the rebuilding of the Temple and the re-establishment of Temple worship. Once Temple worship is re-established, it is but a short time until the Return of the King.
Under that theology, it would be easy to justify almost any action by Israel. After all, any opposition to Israel is an opposition to God’s plan. Folks who object to being thrown out of their homes and having the land that their parents and grandparents owned taken over by settlers simply do not understand God’s plan. There are some who will admit that particular actions by Israel are not appropriately moral. Even then, however, they will argue the equivalent of some eggs having to be broken in order to make a good omelet.
On the other side are some Christians who see Israel with a certain amount of displeasure. To them, any support of Israel is tantamount to the genocide of Palestinians. Among them are some Orthodox priests whom I know. It is interesting to hear their side of the story. One of them, a Palestinian, can tell me about how his grandfather was thrown off of land that had been owned by his family for generations. He had not participated in the conflicts against Israel. He was Arab Christian, so he did not have a strong stake in the conflict. Nevertheless, he was thrown off his land by invading Jewish forces. I know of more than one Arab priest, who comes from generations of Christians, that can tell a similar story. Their question for American Christians is how American Christians can support the taking of land and resources from their fellow Christians without protest and without support. More than one of them has wondered how could Christian not support Christian?
I do not have easy answers to questions of this type. Whatever we say nowadays about how Israel began, there is a country there now, a country recognized by the United Nations and the world community. In that sense, it does now have a right to national existence and peaceful borders. In fact, Israel is actually older than many countries that exist nowadays. One need only look at the Ukraine to see a country that is still in the throes of formation (or dissolution) and is much younger than Israel. On the other hand, this does not mean that we need to uncritically support any action by Israel. Sad to say, it is the very attitude of many American Christians that permits much of Israel’s ability to ignore the world community. [No, it is not true that the world community wants to destroy Israel, that is a convenient fiction that allows American Christians to ignore the world community.] Let us be honest with one another. Were a Muslim country to be taking some of the actions that Israel has taken, we would have conservative radio hosts bewailing lack of action by the President. Instead, we have conservative radio hosts urging Israel to take increasingly violent actions and urging the President to support them.
On the one hand Israel has the right to exist within peaceable borders. On the other hand, so do the Palestinians. Even the accords signed by the Israelis recognize a future that includes self-determination for the Palestinians. The right of Israel to exist does not give it the right to keep expanding its borders. The right of the Palestinians to self-determination do not give them the right to accomplish that goal violently. Both of the previous statements are true. One can neither simply claim that Jews are Zionists nor can one simply claim that Muslims are Jihadists. Finally, one cannot simply ignore Arab Christians nor use them as convenient proof that Muslims are evil. Let’s face it, in some ways Syrian Christians actually have a point that they were better off before Israel arrived! They may not have had full freedom and full rights, but on the other hand, they were allowed to live and work their land. After Israel, and the USA wars in the region, that is no longer true, and we American Christians bear some of the responsibility for that.
You see how confusing the moral landscape is on these issues? That is why I have no good answer.