Thoughts on the conflict in Israel and Gaza
I am watching heartbroken with you as the terrible events in Israel and Palestine continue unfolding. At its core, Genesis is a place that seeks to offer hope and healing to the world, and so the unrest and devastation in the middle east has been at the forefront of my reflection and prayer these past few weeks.
I recently finished reading Elie Wiesel’s seminal text, Night, in which he shares his experience as a Romanian Jew deported to German concentration camps during the Holocaust. The afterword of the book includes Wiesel’s Nobel peace prize acceptance speech which he delivered in Oslo, Norway in 1986. I recommend the book in its entirety, but I wanted to share a few passages from his acceptance speech that are particularly relevant in light of the recent events in the Israel and Gaza.
Wiesel begins his speech by remembering his utter lack of comprehension as a boy as to how the Holocaust was able to take place lamenting, “this is the twentieth century, not the Middle Ages. Who could allow such crimes to be committed?” The world, Wiesel later came to realize, “did know and remained silent.” And that is why Wiesel “swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men and women are persecuted … that place must—at that moment—become the center of the universe.”
Wiesel, a most ardent supporter of Israel, wrote that his concern extended to the Palestinians, “to whose plight I am sensitive but whose methods I deplore when they lead to violence. Something must be done about their situation. Both the Jewish and Palestinian people have lost too many sons and daughters and shed too much blood. This must stop.”
As you can see, the problems we face today are not new, but solutions must be. To that end, Genesis joins with humanitarian organizations around the world, including Catholic Relief Services, in calling for immediate humanitarian access to Gaza. We echo Pope Francis’ call for the establishment of humanitarian corridors in Gaza and for the release of the hostages taken by Hamas. We support the growing numbers of nations and global rights groups calling on Israel to respect international rules of war, urging the prioritization of civilians’ lives.
Please know that our voices, as well as our silence, matter. In addition to praying with people of faith all over the world, we implore you to support those organizations which are providing aid to those suffering at this very moment, but also those who have been working tirelessly for peace. We will be holding you all, as well as all those who are suffering, in our prayers as the world cries for peace.