Saturday, 10 January 2009

Violence in Gaza

The violence in Gaza, in recent days and for much longer before that, is a sad indictment on nationalism in general. The fight is over ethnic homelands, nothing more. It hides behind the pretense of self-determination or victimisation, but ultimately the struggle is for two ethnic groups to have their own pieces of land, and to feel safe in those lands.

To have these aspirations is quite normal and understandable. The aspect of this which I find abhorrent is the use of violence to achieve it.

Both sides use minor violence to provoke the other into an escalation which they hope to use as an excuse to launch a war (to end all wars). Israel uses militant settlers in Gaza. Hamas uses suicide bombers and rocket propelled grenades. Violence begets violence, usually greater than the first violence. In doing so, the Hegelian principle of the negation of the negation is demonstrated. The violence of one side (negation of the peace) is countered by violence of the other side (revenge), but does not result in a return to the original status (peace), turning instead into chaos and death.

This also demonstrates the genuine motivation of both sides: total destruction of the other side. This is genocide, pure and simple, and both sides are guilty of it. Shame on them all.

The solution is, however, impossible to institutionalise, because it requires that people on both sides renounce the aspiration to a homeland. There must be no Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. Adhering to these identities (Jew, Palestinian, Arab, etc.) creates the desire for an ethnic homeland. Lose the identity and the desire for a homeland is also lost. No wonder that Paul sees this as part of the triumph of Christ. The power of salvation is also power over these identities, over these nationalistic aspirations. This is precisely why there cannot be Christian theocracies - a Christian does not have a nationality, or a gender, or a social class.

To take Paul's advice, in Gaza, the problem is clinging to ethnic and geographic identities. The Pauline solution is to abandon them, and live beyond those designations. That is the power of the gospel.
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