Since October 7, when Hamas operatives began their latest attacks, lots of questions have come up. A lot of people have offered opinions and observations about what has happened and why. Sometimes it's a little overwhelming to try and sift through it all. In an effort to provide some balanced information regarding the current crisis, I offer a couple recommendations.
First, Mark Durie’s 7-part blog entitled, “A Q&A Primer on Hamas,” available at www.markdurie.com, are well-written and provide helpful insights into key components of Hamas’ mindset. I highly recommend them to you as a quality resource of information directly related to the current events in Israel.
Second, Global Initiative, over the years, has written multiple articles that provide insights that might help fill in some of the gaps. The items are not intended to be profound or exhaustive and certainly do not cover every aspect of the Israel/Palestine/Gaza issue. Some of the numerical statistics in these articles are out-of-date, but the overarching information regarding Islamic perspectives remains unchanged.
“An Appeal for a Realistic View of Islam,” an article written just after 9/11, and a companion article entitled, “When Orthodox Muslims Speak of God, Is This the God of Whom Christians Speak?” provide a response to the main question we received after 9/11, which was: “Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?” You may be asking yourself, "What does this have to do with the present Gaza/Israel situation?" and you are right to ask. However, I kindly ask you to consider that, in the greater picture, this is one of the primary questions that needs to be addressed.
The following thoughts have helped me keep some degree of perspective in the midst of the current context. First, Hamas has proven that they deserve their designation as a “terrorist” organization. They operate from an extremist Muslim standpoint—not from a patriotic “God save Gaza” standpoint. Their Islamic theological starting place, as noted in their official documents, state that Israel should not exist. When they perpetrate barbaric acts, they do not offer a patriotic “Long live Gaza,” they say, “Allahu Akbar.” They are not acting as patriots, but as Muslims with a bent toward fulfilling Islamic eschatology—whether wittingly or unwittingly. The technical meaning of hamas in Arabic is “enthusiastic” or “zealous,” which describes Hamas, as they zealously pursue their stated intentions. And, of course, the primary origin of the word Hamas is its status as an acronym—reflecting in Arabic something close to “The Islamic Resistance Movement.”
As Mark Durie has stated, “You cannot negotiate or reason with people of such persuasion.” Likewise, it is unwise and imprudent to think that “real Islam” can be compromised with or appeased. Churchill, upon refusing to appease Germany by accepting their false overtures of peace, said, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”
Keep in mind that not all “Palestinian negotiators” would endorse Hamas’ positions; thus, it is unfair to say that Hamas represents all Palestinians! Nevertheless, since 93% of all Palestinians are Muslim, they have a huge “Islamic yoke” around their necks that makes it difficult to trust their negotiating instincts (think of taqiyya, denial of religious belief and practice; an Islamic concept that permits and even recommends lying under certain circumstances in the interests of advancing the faith). Even the demonstrators in New York and other places look more like Islamic zealots than Palestinian patriots. This is not to say that 93% of Palestinians are prone to terrorism, but it is to say that Islamic eschatology plays a key role in all of this, and that fact needs to be recognized and made clear in our attempt for clarity. In other words, it’s not just a geo-political war or conflict but, especially when dealing with the Hamas component, it has an Islamic core. See it, recognize it, and call it out. On the other hand, when true Palestinian patriots/statesmen wish to place aside the religious component and talk diplomacy, then sit down and talk. And yes, there are Palestinian patriot/statesmen.
I have reminded myself that there are:
2.1 million Palestinians in Gaza,
2.1 million Palestinians in Israel proper (called 48ers, because in 1948 or later they were given the right to choose Israeli citizenship. There are Arab Israeli/Palestinians in the Israeli Knesset!),
More than 3 million Palestinians live in the West Bank, and
At least another 6 to 7 million “diaspora Palestinians” are strewn around the world.
Including diaspora Palestinians, the total number is near 13 or 14 million. Keep in mind, that there are many, many Christian Palestinians, especially in the West Bank and even in Gaza. If 93% of all Palestinians are Muslims that means approximately 7% of all Palestinians are Christians! For ten years, I pastored a church in Amman, Jordan, where 60-70% of the congregation was Palestinian! They were/are wonderful Christians, friends—and some are like family to us.
Last, lest I leave the impression that I think everything Israel does is okay. No, I am fully aware that Israel has illegally expropriated land, installed illegal settlements on the West Bank, and perpetrated terrible humanitarian crimes against Palestinian people—and they continue to do so. Their acts of injustice are enormous and they must be held accountable. Conversely, I am also aware that their existence as a people and nation is a reflection of biblical fact.
There is so much more to say (i.e. the role of Iran, Hezbollah, the eschatological differences in Sunni and Shia Islam, other Islamic resistance movements, Christian/Biblical eschatology, a two-state solution, etc.), but I need to pause for now.
As you grapple with the Islamic underpinnings related to this war, I encourage you to pray this prayer: “O Lord, arise and exercise your sovereignty! O Lord, arise and exercise your sovereignty!"
I recommend to you the following articles from the Intercede archive as a means of equipping you with information that will help you understand the foundational principles of Islam that impact the current war in Israel.