Tag Archives: Christian Ethics

A few notes on “Footnotes To Gaza”

Sometimes the books I enjoy the most are not recommended by a friend or carefully selected from my “to read” list. They are, like “Footnotes in Gaza” by Joe Sacco, random picks from a library or bookstore shelf. I was not even looking at books for myself, I was in the graphic books section searching for something that will rather entertain my oldest son, when I spotted the title that arose my interest. The author’s name seemed vaguely familiar as well. Perhaps I read it in some magazine before -I  am not sure. But the fact that he published in some of my favorites, such as Times and Harper’s , spoke well for the author and  I knew that I had to borrow “Footnotes in Gaza” . I started reading it as soon as  I got home and  I got so absorbed by its lecture that I congratulated myself for following my instincts…

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Yes history is actual, and perhaps there is no place better than Palestine and the Gaza Strip to look at as we try to understand how current events unfold from the old ones. How current conflicts are rooted in old wounds. Sacco notes in his foreword to the book the comment of an witness: « ” I still remember the wailing and tears of my father other his brother;” he said. “I couldn’t sleep for many months after that …It left a wound in my heart that can never heal. […] [T]hey planted hatred in our hearts.”» (p. ix, para. II).The witness was Abed El-Aziz El-Rantisi , a senior official of Hamas, the political wing of the Palestinian resistance movement that is often blamed (and culpable) for terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians. Terrorist attacks leading Israelis to intensify their efforts to eliminate the armed militants from Gaza Strip and destroy their connections with the outside world – the paths they use to bring in weapons and  send suicide bombers into Israel. And since rockets and bullets do not make a difference between civilians and militants – the more aggressive are the Israeli attacks,  the more likely to hurt Palestinian civilians.And given that the isolation enforced on the overpopulated Gaza Strip  leads to  less employment and trade opportunities and therefore  more poverty… With each genetation there are more victims, more wounded hearts, more hatred…

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On personal note, one question is following me since I finished reading “Footnotes to Gaza” : How comes  that so many IDF soldiers showed cruelty or at best indifference and lack of human compassion towards civilians? Yes, some where potential enemy soldiers or murderers -yet many of them were old men or boys as young as 15, they were teachers and merchants , some of them were peacemakers, and some had been  living exemplary lives.  Considering the year when the killings happen : 1956, 11 years after the end of WWII  and the average age of active soldiers in the IDF , the Israeli soldiers had to remember the years of Holocaust as something that happened in their own time. The memory of those times when they, the people of Israel, could have faced , and some of them had faced perhaps , humiliation and death. Just because everybody whith those religious beliefs, anyone who belonged to their nation was “the enemy”. No matter what they had done or how they lived as individuals. I think that memory had to be alive in their minds and hearts. And one hopes that the people who belong to a nation surviving so much harm, so much injustice are more likely to act humanly: showing mercy, compassion, acting justly and avoiding the gratuitous humiliation and violence against their prisoners. Yet, in spite of one what might hope, there is perhaps a harsher reality -most of us recall the fear instead. The thought that if they are acting too softly instead of being aggressively in offensive,  they may end up being those oppressed, those victimized… the hopeless ones.

A complete book review is available on my “artsy” blog/page : Anaïs

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The Apostle Paul and Planned Parenthood (or why do conservatives want to defund PP)

 Why do conservatives want so hard to defund Planned Parenthood?

 

First, they told us that it was about the abortions.  As good Christians, our elected conservative leaders, raised an ethical objection and opposed the use of tax money to fund a service that is unethical from their point of view . And, as a Christian, I did get their point of view because even though abortion is legal it is a questionable ethical decision. And the Apostle Paul would agree with the conservatives, I think, in 1 Corinthians 5-6 he is quite clear about expelling the ethically questionable from the community even though their acts were permitted in the world, i.e. legal by Roman law. Now, not that I agree with the conservative faction, but I can understand their reason – they are considering the taxes paid as their contribution to the broad community of American residents and they believe to be their duty to oppose anything that may force them to contribute to an act that they are condemning from an ethical standpoint.

 Yet only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortions and not even a penny from the federal fund opposed by conservatives is  used  towards this service. And it was said “I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.” (1 Corinthians 5 -9,10). Therefore as long as Planned Parenthood only offers legal services and does not use these good Christians money to fund unethical services, there should not be any objection to its federal funding.

 

But the argument did not stop here. Now these good Christian conservatives, who were elected as our leaders, are telling us that cutting funds for Planned Parenthood is not about abortions, but about “making sacrifices” to reduce the $14 trillion budget deficit. Yet there are many other ways to reduce the deficit that should be at the top of the list, long before Planned Parenthood is even mentioned. Not from a conservative or liberal point of view but from the same Christian point of view that was used when funding Planned Parenthood was first opposed.

[Some other ways to reduce deficit: close corporate tax loopholes – $400 billion over a 10-year period (1); stop big oil subsidies – $3.6 billion (2) reduce the fleet of new F-35 fighter jet by one – $304 million (3).]

Yet, all I hear in reply is that we have to sacrifice Planned Parenthood. That there is no reason for a program designed to help those single moms working for $8 an hour with no benefits to feel entitled to our generous giving. But it is the Apostle Paul who said: “A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband” (1 Corinthians 7- 10, 11) Interestingly, since the only way for most women to remain unmarried once separated and yet survive was to receive support from the community. So the Christian community has the duty to support the single woman and the woman who had to separate from her husband is entitled to expect their support.

Therefore, it is in the virtue of the Christian Ethics invoked by our elected conservative leaders when they first opposed funding Planned Parenthood that most women who use its services are entitled to them. It is just that when you ask our elected conservative leaders to dip their hands in their pockets or those of their rich supporters that they are suddenly blinded and are unable to recall what is asked from them…And it was said to them “You give a tenth of your spices –mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law –justice, mercy and faithfulness” (Mathew 23-23)

Yet, in spite of the argument above, our elected conservative leaders will continue to oppose the funding Planned Parenthood. Why? They cannot ask their rich supporters to give up their bountifulness for the single working mothers. They cannot support those women who are independent enough, brave enough to ask what is due to them. Because without the submissive women who came to accept their husbands abuse as the “Christian thing to do”  and their rich buddies to pay for their campaigns they’d end up in the ditch (or pit).

This is why there is nothing more I can add, but accept that no matter what I say or how their position would be unchanged.

“Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind both with fall into a pit” ( Mathew 15-14)

 

Note: All bible quotes are from the from the NIV edition.