Below is the text with some commentary from Canadian Catholic writer/activist/professor Ted Schmidt (please see his recent book: I Was a Catholic Zionist: A Biblical Challenge to Tribalism and Idolatry); [email protected].
Then Jesus said to his disciples:
Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Matt 16:24
What has befallen Gaza is a human-made disaster. In its protractedness and in its starkness, in its unfolding not in the fog of war or in the obscurity of remoteness but in broad daylight and in full sight, in the complicity of so many, not just via acts of commission but also, and especially, of omission, it is moreover a distinctly evil crime.–Norman G. Finkelstein
Christianity is a tough proposition, a road less travelled. In the West it has been sapped by advanced capitalism. The dynamite which caused a world revolution has been replaced by the equivalence of a “happy meal,” attendance at your local church, and it must be said, often by very kind personal acts of charity at the interpersonal level.
Biblical discipleship of course is not about charity [only], it is about justice, right relationships. As the great German theologian Johann Baptist Metz said:
Danger lights up every page of the New Testament, and it is dangerous to get close to the itinerant rabbi of Galilee. If you do, you might share the same fate. Inevitably there will be a cross for you because of the options you have chosen.
The Anglo-Irish priest therapist Diarmuid Omurchu puts it this way:
We have come a long way from the fiery prophetic figure Jesus of Nazareth who shocked and disturbed the conventions of his day in the name of justice and liberation. Our respectability has taken a terrible toll on the authentic calling of Christian life.
We have lost sight of the deeper vision and lost heart for the passion and enthusiasm of God’s New Reign. The following of Jesus is not a respectable religion.
That wonderful British Dominican Herbert McCabe has an ironic twist on this:
The Christian message—If you don’t love, you won’t really be alive. If you do love and do it effectively, you’ll be killed.
One looks in vain for any North American bishop who would dare utter the prophetic denunciation you are about to read. It comes from a man whose Presbyterian minister father was a beacon in his life. I refer to the amazing Pulitzer Prize journalist Chris Hedges, himself an ordained Presbyterian minister.
Sadly as Catholics we no longer look for the prophetic among the so-called leaders, though the present pope moves gingerly in that direction. The John Paul II bishops are managers and administrators. We look in vain for the Jesus wild card, the disturbers of the status quo in the Hebrew Bible, men like Jeremiah and Isaiah. The rabbinate in North America is no better, too many were suborned by the false creed of Zionism.
Judaism has been corrupted by its politicization. For some, a form of idolatry seems to have been embraced, making Israel an object of worship, much like the golden calf in the Bible. It is not only Palestinians who have been the victims of this enterprise, but Jewish moral and ethical values as well.
Sadly, there are few Abraham Heschels among today’s rabbis.
Yet the prophetic never dies–because God is still alive, mainly on the margins and outside the walls of official religion especially when it comes to Israel. Cultural Jews like world renowned Noam Chomsky are fearless.
The latest atrocities in Gaza:
- 213 dead, including 61 children, according to the territory’s health ministry.
- More than 1,400 Palestinians have been injured and tens of thousands have been displaced from their homes, according to the ministry and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
These figures sadly compare to the last time Israel “mowed the grass” in 2014.
And this brings us to the authentic prophet Chris Hedges, who gave a speech in New York City August 9, 2014 during the last Gaza massacre in 2014. It still stands out as a religious text:
God’s covenant in the Promised Land was not made with those who pilot F-16 fighter jets that drop 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bombs over the concrete hovels of Gaza. It was not made with those operating Apache or Cobra attack helicopters that unleash lethal fire overcrowded refugee camps. It was not made with drone operators that clinically kill children … outside mosques. It was not made with M-60 tank units and artillery crews that murder families huddled in terror in their homes.
It was not made with those on gunboats that slaughter boys playing on a beach. It was not made with those that fire Sidewinder missiles and drop 250-pound “smart bombs” on apartment blocks. It was not made with snipers from the Golani Brigade that gun down unarmed men and women for sport. It was not made with occupiers that reduce an entire people to a starvation diet—indeed count the calories to keep them barely alive—or to those who use words like “mowing the lawn” to justify the iniscriminant slaughter of innocents.
God’s covenant in the Promised Land was not made with politicians—including every member of the U.S. Senate—that mouth words for peace and perpetuate war, that call for justice and perpetuate injustice, that refuse to stand up for the rule of law and the right of a captive people to be free.
God’s covenant in the Promised Land was not made, finally, with any race or religion. It was not made with the Jews. It was not made with the Muslims. It was not made with the Christians. God’s covenant—in the Bible and the Koran—was made with the righteous. When Ibrahim asked in the holy Koran if the covenant could be inherited, he was told bluntly: “My covenant is not given to oppressors.” And God’s iron requirement to stand with the oppressed occurs as well in the Hebrew and Greek bibles. Those who turn away from righteousness—be they Jew, Christian or Muslim—violate that covenant. They are not God’s people.
God’s covenant is made with those who love mercy and do justice, with those who care for the stranger, the orphan and the widow, with those who frustrate the ways of the wicked, with those who bring good news to the oppressed, who bind up the brokenhearted, who proclaim liberty to the captives and release to all those in prison, including those imprisoned in Gaza. God’s covenant is with those men and women—Jews, Christians and Muslims, believers and nonbelievers—who say, “Let my people go, oppressed so hard they could not stand. Let my people go.” And God calls these people oaks of righteousness. And they are God’s people.
God weeps because families, huddled in terror in their homes, are dismembered and killed by Israeli bombs. God weeps because mothers howl in grief over the bodies of their children in U.N. schools hit by Israeli shells. God weeps because the old and disabled, who could not flee the deadly Israeli advance, died helpless and afraid. God weeps because the powerful, here and in Israel, lie and dissemble to justify murder. And God weeps for all those who stand by and do nothing.
God weeps because the assault on Gaza is not about Israel’s right to self-defense or about removing Hamas from power. It is not about achieving peace. God weeps because the assault on Gaza is about the decades-long campaign to destroy and ethnically cleanse the Palestinian people from their land. God weeps because Israel is constructing squalid, lawless and impoverished ghettos where life for Palestinians is barely sustainable. God weeps because Israel restricts or shuts off movement, food, medicine and goods to accentuate the human misery. God weeps because Israel has turned Gaza, now largely without power, running water and sewage [systems], into a vast gulag.
God weeps because the failure to condemn Israeli war crimes by our political establishment and our compliant media betrays the memory of those killed in other genocides, from the Holocaust to Cambodia to Rwanda to Bosnia. God weeps because we have failed to learn the fundamental lesson of the Holocaust, which is not that Jews are unique or eternal victims, but that when you have the capacity to stop genocide, and you do not, you are culpable. And we [Americans], who provide 95 percent of Israel’s weapons, are very culpable.