March 5, 2014
Netanyahu's inaction to Obama's provocations sends powerful message
Kerry, after apparent criticism by Schumer, seeks to allay skepticism on diplomacy
How to ruin a perfectly good kid in 10 simple steps
2014 Oscars played it safe, but was faith lost in the shuffle?
Apple joins Hobby Lobby in touting corporate values beyond profit
March 3, 2014
Alina Dain Sharon: In the Hebrew calendar, a leap year has extra month, not day
Latest Obama appointment to prove Prez set on emasculating so-called Israel Lobby
Jewish World Review
January 21, 2009
/ 25 Teves 5769
A Christian in Gaza
By Lela Gilbert
It's not just Jews who continue to suffer at the hands of Hamas
On a chilly January morning, three of us drove beneath a cloud-strewn
sky through forests, fields, and ancient terraces, making our way
from Jerusalem to Israel's southern region where thousands of people
live within range of Hamas's rockets. As we approached our
destination, I noticed another cloud, a towering column of black
smoke on the horizon, billowing from northern Gaza, where a battle
We passed the community of Sderot-literally "on the map" because of
the Qassam strikes it has endured-and soon arrived at Kibbutz Gevim,
situated just a few miles from both Sderot and Gaza. We were there to
assist in a temporary evacuation of the kibbutz's senior citizens.
The two Christian organizations my friends represent were treating
these elders to a few leisurely days in the seaside resort town of
Eilat, a welcome respite from the relentless bombardment.
I talked with several genial but visibly anxious men and women while
they waited for the bus to arrive. Many of them had lived at Kibbutz
Gevim for more than half a century. They were eagerly looking forward
to getting a good night's sleep in Eilat, with no sirens and no rush
to the "safe room" in their houses.
"Do you think this war will make your life better?" I asked one man
named Moredcai "Yes, I think so" he nodded. "And not just my life.
It will also be better for the people in Gaza once Hamas is broken."
A woman named Edna seemed particularly nervous, her hands in constant
movement.. "Aren't you afraid to come here?" she asked me with a
worried frown. "My own family won't even come to visit! I have to
meet them in Tel Aviv." The sound of a large explosion startled us
all and punctuated her comment. She added, "Anybody who says they
aren't afraid to live here is lying."
Several residents mentioned medications that made it possible for
them to function- prescriptions for anti-depressants and anti-anxiety
drugs are very much in demand, and for good reason. I learned that a
few months before, a small boy from Kibbutz Gevim had been injured by
a Qassam strike; in fact not a single child could be seen in the
carefully-tended kibbutz playground. One woman described her house,
which had taken a direct hit and needed extensive repairs. Other
rockets had ignited fires and damaged structures. Everyone spoke of
the nerve-wracking noise that never seemed to end: sirens,
explosions, helicopters and warplanes.
These ordinary men and women couldn't have been clearer about their
dearest hopes: they want nothing more than to live out their lives in
peace. Unfortunately, they face an extraordinarily hostile enemy that
has fired 6,000 rockets into Israel's civilian communities over the
past eight years. Hamas's actions reflect the spirit of their 1988
Charter, which calls for the death of Jews and the eradication of
It's not just Jews, however, who suffer at the hands of Hamas.
Getting far less media attention is the situation facing 3,000
Christians who live inside the Gaza strip. Following the Hamas coup
in Gaza, a radical sheikh, Abu Sakir announced, "'I expect our
Christian neighbors to understand the new Hamas rule means real
changes. They must be ready for Islamic rule if they want to live in
peace in Gaza.'" Months ago I had a conversation with two Gazan
Christians, who had fled their homes and were hiding out in the West
Bank while hoping for asylum elsewhere. Their stories exposed the
dangers Christian families face under Hamas, including extortion,
rape, beatings and murder.
Our little gathering at Kibbutz Gevim wasn't especially religious. It
amounted to an ad hoc coalition of concerned Christians hoping to
make life a little easier for a group of war-weary Jews. Everything
centered on life-affirming values and life-sustaining actions that
are deeply rooted in both Christianity and Judaism.
Yet even as we said our goodbyes, another deadly explosion shattered
the morning stillness.
As my friends and I headed back to Jerusalem, I thought about
encroaching terrorism that has cast its terrible shadow across so
many lives across the world. We are often told that its root causes
are economic, territorial, ethnic and political. While these issues
may indeed play their part, public declarations from groups like
Hamas and Al Qaeda are almost entirely religious. By now the world
has seen more than enough columns of black smoke towering above our
cities, heard enough body counts, and witnessed enough of terrorism's
tragic consequences. Still I can't help but wonder-are we taking
seriously enough the hateful religious ideology that inflames radical
Enjoyed this article? Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Comments by clicking here.
Lela Gilbert is a free-lance writer and editor who has authored or co-
authored more than sixty published books. She writes primarily in the
field of ecumenical non-fiction, and her work includes the recently
released Blind Spot: When Journalists Don't Get Religion; she is a contributor to the Jerusalem Post, and an adjunct
fellow at Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom.
© 2009, Lela Gilbert