On Friday night, March 11, 2011, five family members from Itamar settlement were found killed in their residence in the West Bank. The police suspects that a Palestinian terrorist entered the house and stabbed the whole family. The terrorist killed the father, the mother, and three children. The shocking news is that the children are 11 years old, 3 years and 3 months old. This cruel inhuman violent action must be condemned and rejected by all Palestinians. Terrorism is not the best path in our torn country.
Biblical ethics require that we show commitment to the following elements. First, we are committed to biblical love. God wants us to love all the people including our enemies. Jesus has told us, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” . . . “do good to those who hate you” (Matt 5: 44; Luke 6: 27). Love opens the channels of communication. We must talk to our enemies instead of killing them. Second, we are committed to justice just like the persistent widow (Luke 18: 1 – 8). She troubled the unjust leaders by insisting on justice. If an unjust judge listened to an insignificant widow, how much more will the Just God listen to the cries of His children. Justice is either administered by God directly (Rom 12: 19) or by God’s agents who have the authority to punish the evil doers (Rom 13: 4). Revenge and spilling the blood of innocent children is never the Christian way. It must be condemned. Third, we are committed to human dignity. All people are created in the image of God (Gen 1: 26 – 27). Everyone’s dignity is derived from the dignity of God himself and we must see the face of God in every human being. Anyone who kills another human being must be punished because a human being is created in God’s image (Gen 9: 6) and attacking another human being is an attack on God himself. Killing the children of Israeli settlers is as evil as killing Palestinian children. Both are an attack on God himself. Fourth, we are committed to non-violence. Jesus has taught us:
You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles (Matt 5: 38 – 41).
The text wants us to resist evil with good (Rom 12: 21). We are called to resist physical abuse, looting our possessions, and abandoning our freedom of choice. Whenever an evil person strikes we must engage the striker instead of acting like him or her. Whenever the looter steals we must consider the value of the stealer in the eyes of God and value it more than the possessions. Whenever our freedom is lost due to oppression we must walk the second mile in order to reveal the love of God. Violence breeds violence but peace-making is the path of a better world. Fifth, we are committed to protecting the children. It is unacceptable to take the lives of Israeli children in the name of a political program or ideology. This is utter evil. Children must have the right to develop to the fullest, to be protected from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation, let alone brutal massacres. We have to build a better future for our Palestinian and Israeli children. Bloodshed is not the right path. Sixth, we are committed to defend the oppressed. Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed”(Luke 4: 18). The oppressed ones need freedom from the devil as well as from his agents who use evil to spread a kingdom of violence instead of a Kingdom of Justice and peace. Seventh, we are committed to share the land with Israelis in a fair and just political solution. God has called both Palestinians and Israelis to live in this land. A Jew is a gift from God and a Palestinian is also a gift from God. Unless we rejoice in God’s gifts we will continue to exclude each other and kill one another. Let us stand together for Justice and peace for both Palestinians and Israeli Jews. Last but not least, I send my sincere condolences to the relatives of the killed family in Itamar and I pray that our country will be healed from the spilling of innocent blood.
Rev. Yohanna Katanacho, Ph.D.