God, Bless the Tanks

God, Bless the Tanks

Among the ruins of a United Nations school in northern Gaza. (Photo: Mohammed Saber/EPA)

Introduction

With this summer's escalation of hatred, violence, and death in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, I finally cracked my paperback copy of Blood Brothers by Father Elias Chacour (with David Hazard). An Arab Palestinian Christian who is also a citizen of Israel, Chacour is renown for his restless peacemaking among and between Palestinians and Jews in the Holy Land. He insists on non-violence all the while demonstrating concrete love for one's enemy all the while pursuing dignity and a just reconciliation for all.

In January 2014, Chacour retired as an Archbishop in the Melkite Catholic Church. In the early 1980s, while serving as a parish priest in Galilee, he had a vision for an inter-ethnic, inter-religious school. Thirty years on, the Mar Elias Educational Institutions bring together children and youth from Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and Druze backgrounds.

What follows is a kind of journal where I engage the book Blood Brothers and Chacour's story.


September 9, 2014

So, yes, I'm quite sure Jesus would not be caught dead—or resurrected, for that matter—driving an Israeli tank. Not to mention, blessing one.

Flippancy aside, Jesus-not-driving-a-tank is where the updated Foreword to Blood Brothers, written by former US Secretary of State James A. Baker III, took me—imaginatively. Ironically, in human terms, foreword is backward. Notice, for instance, how the retaliatory violence of 2014—on both sides—morbidly channels Baker's words from over a decade ago:

As I write in the summer of 2002, it seems that peace has more enemies than friends. Day by day, violence generates new and ever more painful grievances. Day by day, dialogue is replaced by propaganda, by the imperious 'therefore,' justifying yet more violence and yet more death. And too many—specifically including too many Christians—respond with uncritical and hot-blooded support for one combatant or the other, as if to say that Jesus Himself might bless the tanks (as some seem to believe) or the suicide bombings (as others suggest by their reluctance to condemn these acts).

 

New and ever more painful grievances. Justifying more violence and more death.

If only Baker could've been slightly more prescient. If only not.

 

Here, for more Blood Brothers journal.


To the fiercest partisans, all questions are answered in cold absolutes. There can be no forbearance, no balancing of costs and benefits, no tolerance, no respect for the other side, no mercy.
— James A. Baker III
The Thing Not Considered

The Thing Not Considered

The Weird Fertility of Violence

The Weird Fertility of Violence