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Israel: Has David Become Goliath?

By Rev Ted Pike
13 March 2008

During the past month, the world has again seen the wounds of the Middle East open, gash-red in Gaza. In response to continuing home-made rocket fire from Gaza, Israel hit back. Within several days 120 Palestinians were dead. More than half were civilians, 1 in 5 being children. Two Israeli soldiers who were involved in the fighting were killed, as well as one Israeli.
Israel says the continued terror of such rocket attacks justifies collective punishment of a million and a half inhabitants of Gaza. This includes heightening blockade of food, electricity, and essential supplies around Gaza, which is now reduced to a virtual Israeli concentration camp.
While 120 Palestinians died in two days, how many Israelis have actually perished as a result of rocket attacks from Gaza? Only 14 in the past seven years.1

Perspective on Terror

I do not approve of Palestinians raining rockets on Israel's cities, killing or maiming the innocent, including children. Yet we need perspective on the balance of power - and terror, between Israel and the Palestinians. The level of Israeli aerial bombardment of innocent Palestinians through invasions of Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza over the past decades vastly exceeds that of Palestinians against Israel.
Israel 's invasions of Lebanon in, and earlier in 1982, were largely provoked by firing of rockets from Lebanon into Israel. Although terrifying to Israel's northern cities, they also left relatively few dead. Consider though, Israel's response in 1982 - a response made possible by U.S. made bombs and fighter planes.
According to the Beirut police, some 18,000 Lebanese, largely Palestinian refugees in Tyre and Sidon (many of whom were Christians) were slaughtered by Israeli firepower.2 Even the staunchest defenders of Israel, including Stan Mooneyham, president of World Vision, were appalled at the evident callousness of the Israelis to bombard non-strategic civilian areas and prevent the delivery of relief and medical supplies.
Listen to this credible eyewitness, as recounted in World Vision Magazine, September 1982:

Some say there was two hours’ notice. Others insist there was none. In a camp of 60,000, it’s not easy to get the word around, even when warning leaflets are dropped. . . . the first planes came at five o’clock in the evening; from just after midnight until eight the next evening the bombing was continuous. For three days the pounding went on. Everybody here has friends who died in the attack. A woman makes a chopping motion across the knee of a baby another woman is holding, saying she saw a baby at Ein-el-Hilweh who had both legs blown off.

There is no Ein-el-Hilweh anymore. Never before have I seen such total destruction, not even in Managua, the earthquake-stricken capital of Nicaragua . If the world’s war-makers and peacemakers want to see what saturation bombing looks like, they should look here. Israel, the country skilled in making the desert blossom like a rose, knows also how to turn rose into desert.

Block after block of crumpled wreckage is all that’s left. Plus the unknown number of bodies. There must be hundreds down there underneath the rubble - the permeating odor of decaying flesh tells you that much. Refugees who escaped say that as many as 8,000 died. The Red Cross puts the number at 1,500. Either way, it’s one of the major massacres of modern times.

Mooneyham then describes the Israeli attack on Sidon in the darkness of the early morning:

. . . at 2:30 Monday Morning, June 14, an aerial bomb slices into Kineye School. It rips bodies apart, strews arms and legs and pieces of what a second before had been living, breathing human beings. The concussion takes the rest. No more running. No more crying. Now they sleep.

Now here I am three weeks later, where no observer is supposed to be, seeing what no observer is supposed to see. The bodies and pieces of bodies. . . . Kineye School is a charnel house; body fluids, creeping across the basement floor from the stack of bodies, are ankle deep in places. It is possible to count 50 or so bodies. The rest are piled atop each other, hurled there by the blast that took their lives. We are told there are 255 in the helter-skelter pile.

Lest We Forget

The Israelis, of course, played down the casualties and damage in Sidon, as well as Beirut. Yet Mooneyham, who managed to penetrate the area much sooner than other western observers has this to report:
If the Israeli figure of 165 killed in Sidon is accurate, I saw all but ten of those bodies in one school basement, still unburied three weeks after the invasion. That says nothing about the township of Ein-el-Hilweh just outside of Sidon which had a normal population of 60,000 and was obliterated by saturation bombing.
As the head of an international relief organization bringing $400,000 worth of medical and relief supplies to the victims of the holocaust, Mooneyham was astonished at the refusal of the Israeli conquerors to allow distribution of such necessities, even after the fighting had ended and the area was secure.

Early delivery attempts were thwarted on several occasions by Israeli blockades. . . . causing costly delays. . . . Israel refused all relief agencies access to occupied areas for more than ten days of the worst need when quick action could have saved many lives. The Red Cross ship SS Anton (carrying World Vision relief supplies) was refused permission on security grounds to land critically needed supplies to Sidon two weeks after the invasion, although our people in the city reported total security, with people fishing on the docks.

Although Mooneyham did not view other areas of Lebanon as closely as his inspection of Tyre and its environs, what he saw there prompts him to make an ominous comparison: “the sheer magnitude of this one visible piece of the Israeli war machine is incredible. David seems determined to become Goliath.”
Except for Mooneyham, there was no public criticism of Israel 's 1982 invasion by any major American evangelical leader. Nor was there criticism of Israel for providing aerial lighting for the slaughter of between 1,500 and over 2,000 innocent Palestinian men, women and children in the Shatila and Sabra refugee camps.
Actually, there was more criticism of Israel from Jews. In the New York Times, (August 5, 1985, p. 1) a Mr. Hareven, retired senior Israeli military officer, is quoted as saying, " … Begin called the Palestinians in Lebanon 'two-legged animals' and (Rafael) Eytan (former Military Chief of Staff) referred to them as 'cockroaches in a bottle.'" Richard Arens, brother of Israeli Defense Minister, Moshe Arens, in an article in the Portland, Oregonian, ( May 15, 1983 ) said, "Relative to the Palestinians, he (Moshe) has complete hostility and perhaps only thinly veiled ruthlessness. His reaction to the massacres was 'nothing happened' and if it did they deserved it… I have abandoned any hope of appealing to Israeli ruling circles on humanitarian matters. They claim privileges as victims of the holocaust, but it is difficult to appeal to them in behalf of other victims of genocide."
Tragically, as we have seen this past month in Gaza, it is also seem impossible to appeal to the compassion of at least 40 million evangelicals. For them, only Jewish suffering is important.


1. The Guardian, (March 5, 2008 , page 33 of the Comment and Debate Section) "To Blame the Victims for the Killing Spree Defies Both Morality and Sense."

2. The number of dead as a result of Israel 's 1982 invasion is now regarded as at least 19,500.



Rev. Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog organization.

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