I am an American woman of Irish descent who is a former Catholic. That is my basic profiling headline. As such, there is a part of me that thinks I should sit down and shut up because I know very little about a conflict half a world away, but alas, here we are.
You see, one of the most important people in my life is an American Muslim woman of Palestinian descent, Sahar. We have been friends since sixteen, and for us, religion has always been present in our friendship. In youth, we examined the differences and similarities between Islam and Christianity. We learned about other cultures from each other. For instance, I had no idea that in some parts of the world, the land I know as Israel is actually called Palestine. This is the land that Sahar hails from, and as the daughter of immigrant parents, she still has family there. I can’t relate, because any close family we had back in Ireland are long dead. I can kind of sympathize with all the disruption in the area, as northern and southern Ireland have always had their issues, but I think it’s safe to say it’s never escalated, and probably never will, to the level that it has in the Middle East.
Growing up Catholic, we learned a lot about Israel and the Jewish people. In school, we were taught that the Jews were like our kin. They were the people that Christians would not exist without. They believed in the same God as us, just with a different view on prophets and Messiahs. It was actually used as a teaching tool to help us understand other cultures, which is cool. But, as I’ve said before, I didn’t know what a Muslim was until I was 14.
Are you aware how similar Islam is to Christianity? Probably not, but essentially, just like the Jews, we are all worshipping the same God, just with different views on prophets and Messiahs. The Jews sometimes use the name Yahweh, so why do we freak out when Muslim’s use Allah? It’s just a different name for the same basic principle.
Anyway, my point is that I was raised to think that Israel belonged to the Jewish people because it is the land God granted to them. And we, America, supported that.
Then I grew up and I realized that God has nothing to do with real estate.
So, for a while I was like “why can’t they just share the land?” That seemed like the fair thing to do, and I remembered learning about Gaza in school, so I thought that the whole situation seemed fair. After all, I was an American and taught that it was totally fair for the Native Americans to live on reservations.
Then I grew up some more and realized that was absolute bullshit and that colonizers were thieves. I mean, you can’t just come in someone’s house and say it’s yours now. We literally have a constitutional amendment prohibiting the military from doing exactly that, and I am positive there are other federal and state laws in place to prevent someone from just coming in and taking your house. And this is what is happening over there…Israel came in and took the Palestinians house.
But wait! There’s more!
Because they were sick of having their house stolen since 1948, they fought back. Y’know, as one would in the USA had they property and a gun. Except instead of a gun (since after all, this is not just one house, but a million,) they used some rockets.
Well, the Israeli leadership did not like this, so in a completely disproportionate response, they proceeded to bomb the bejesus out of the Palestinians.
Sahar told me that on one of the most holy days of Ramadan, they bombed the most important mosque in Jerusalem, just a few blocks from her grandparents’ house.
For Catholic context, this would be like someone throwing a bomb in St. Peter’s Basilica on Christmas morning.
And that just disgusts me. I mean, not as much as the photos I am seeing come out of all the dead or injured Palestinian children. Or the fact that yesterday they bombed al Jazeera’s headquarters, which is their press hub. Or the part where they’re blocking roads and trapping people in Gaza. Or the bit about how they’re bombing hospitals, which is a war crime.
Tell me again why we are supporting these people? Explain to me why Israel is in the right, and do it without God in the equation.
I dare you.