Reflections

Israelis should heed their Scripture

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”Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury.” —Leviticus 24:19-20  

"Don’t mistreat any foreigners who live in your land. Instead, treat them as well as you treat citizens and love them as much as you love yourself. Remember, you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” — Leviticus 19:33-34

The events of last Oct. 7, were terrible and tragic. As we all know, a group of terrorists within the Palestinian organization called Hamas, crossed over from the northern border of the Gaza Strip within Israel and attacked small Israeli villages.

That day they killed around 1,200 people (mostly Israelis, but several other nationalities as well) and kidnapped over a hundred more as hostages. So the people who planned and carried out this brutal attack should of course be held accountable. I don’t believe anyone anywhere would argue that fact.

The problem is, the government of Israel (and the Jewish people who lead it) don’t follow the teachings of their own Hebrew Scriptures.

Although I personally don’t believe that all the “Laws of Moses” actually came from God, most Jewish people do.

So the Scripture from Leviticus 24 portrays God as telling the ancient Hebrew people to retaliate against someone who has harmed them, in the same way as they were harmed.

The point of this law was to limit the damage done to the offender, since human nature is to want to “get back” at someone even worse for what they have done to us. The law means if someone (either intentionally or unintentionally) blinds you in one eye or knocks one of your teeth out, you don’t get to blind them in both eyes and knock all their teeth out.

Yet that is exactly what is happening in Israel today. The Israeli government has a long history of retaliating 10-fold for every incident in which they have been harmed. But what is happening today is the most brutal example.

Rather than engage the actual perpetrators of the events of Oct. 7, in the tunnels below Gaza, Israel (in an act of cowardice) began their retaliation by indiscriminately dropping bombs on buildings which contained innocent civilians, in an attempt to kill Hamas members residing in the tunnels underneath them.

According to PBS, nearly 30,000 civilians have now been killed in Gaza since this conflict began, and it is estimated that two thirds of them are women and children. Not only that, but hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are now homeless and starving and suffering from disease.

What the Israeli government is doing in Gaza is nothing like an eye for an eye, or even a life for a life. It has now evolved into a genocide.

The problem is that the government of Israel, since its founding in 1948, has always viewed the Palestinians who lived among them as foreigners. But rather than treating them as citizens (as the Leviticus 19 verses command) they have instead continually mistreated them by building walls around them and making them prisoners within their own land. Even after the ancient history of their Hebrew ancestors being held as slaves within Egypt, and their contemporary history of Jewish people being victims of genocide during WW2, the Israeli government can’t grasp the irony and hypocrisy of their treatment of the Palestinian people. If the Palestinian people were given the freedom and dignity of living autonomous lives in their own land, groups like Hamas wouldn’t be able to recruit terrorists. But what the Israeli government is now doing to innocent civilians in an effort to “destroy Hamas” will actually result in the recruitment of a whole new generation of radicalized terrorists.

Netanyahu and his government must not only claim the Jewish faith, but live according to its tenants. The war must end, and it must end now!