Occupying the land


Last updated 11/14/2023 at 11:55am

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations in various U.S. cities recently got my attention. Curious as to what the protestors were actually supporting, I read from various news sources. To my surprise some of the “journalistic” accounts made little if any mention of Hamas’ brutal October 7 attack on Israelis living in Gaza. The journalists, like the protestors, seemed more focused on Israel’s retaliation following the horrendous attack. After more research, reading and watching video, I discovered how many protestors support a very definite anti-Israel vibe, bordering on anti-Semitism. They gleefully echo Hamas’ rally cry: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Freedom sounds good, but do the protestors understand that Hamas’ goal is to exterminate every Israeli in their war to “free” Palestine?

Have these protestors already forgotten how Hamas militants aimed bombs at schools and hospitals in order to exterminate greater numbers of innocent victims? Or the way Hamas soldiers dragged people from their beds and homes, murdering and mutilating elderly women and children in the streets? Or how they took innocent civilians hostage? Or committed and recorded unspeakably worse crimes? Is this forgetfulness on the part of protestors or intentional disregard?

Are protestors suggesting, even subtly, that Hamas was justified in their horrifying attack? Do they agree with Hamas’ moral code and religious convictions? If so, they might want to think again. Because it’s no secret that many of these same pro-Palestine protestors also participate in other demonstrations — marching for hot-button issues like pro-abortion laws, LGBTQ rights, etc. And I’m not making a judgment on their right to peaceful protest, but do these demonstrators realize that Hamas could identify their support of those particular issues as legitimate reason to exterminate these protestors? Imagine if Hamas militants showed up at a rainbow pride demonstration — it could quickly turn into a bloodbath.

According to what I’ve witnessed, these “naïve” protestors’ focus on “freeing Palestine” by making the accusation that Israel is unfairly “occupying” Gaza. Well, if you take a look at post-World War II history, the whole “occupation” theory (partially thanks to the U.N.) is pretty murky. Just reading about it sent my head spinning. But I think in the same way uncertain fence lines between neighbors can create disputes, identifying “ownership” on the small strip of Gaza land has fueled fires for decades.

And ancient history makes the concept of land ownership even more conflicted. Who owned what when, and how did they lose it, regain it, lose it again? Does might make right? Does history prove property lines? And which side recorded the history?

If you think about it, the whole concept of land ownership is at best temporary for all of us. Who owns and who occupies? Who got here first? Before Europeans settled the U.S., Native Americans called North America home. Does that mean settlers were “occupiers”? In the eyes of Native Americans, yes. In the eyes of pioneers, not so much. Consider all the land wars the planet has endured since the beginning of time, some recorded, some not — who was “occupying” what? And how constantly have the borders and occupations changed over the centuries? And how much blood was shed over it?

To be fair, we are all “occupying” something that will no longer be ours … someday. Sure, we may own and occupy our homes right now, but what about when we move, sell, or pass on? Then someone else will occupy what we once thought we owned. And, hopefully, we will become permanent occupants of our heavenly home, where ownership will probably seem unimportant, if not downright silly.

My prayer for Israel and Palestine, and all of us, is for peaceful occupation of our earthly home . . . and that we all will turn our eyes toward the true owner and Creator of the place we are currently occupying…and that we will live by the Creator’s words to “love our neighbors as we love ourselves.”

Optimistic, I know, but I am a dreamer.


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