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If you consider yourself a Christian, stand with Israel

REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

It’s been a little over a week, and I’m completely heartbroken at all I have witnessed in the days since Israel was attacked.

Saturday, October 7th was a horrific day. I woke up that morning to news that Hamas (a terrorist group backed by Iran, ruling the Gaza strip) had launched an attack on Israel, including rockets and cross-border invasion by land, air, and sea.

Hundreds of terrorists entered Israel from the Gaza Strip and have since wreaked unspeakable havoc on the innocent communities surrounding the Gaza border. The details of these attacks are too gruesome to describe and too explicit to share here, but images and videos have begun to circulate online, and they are shocking beyond belief.

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At the time I’m typing this, 5,000 rockets have been fired into Israel, over 3,300 have been wounded, 1,300 have been murdered including hundreds of children and infants, and almost 200 civilians have been taken hostage by Hamas.

Why do I say all this?

For the past week, it’s been all I’ve thought about. I’ve traveled to Israel 8 times — several times as a student or volunteer trip leader, and several times as the Director of Marketing for Passages, an organization that brings Christian students to Israel. I’ve developed strong friendships with many people there, and Passages has many close friends and partners there.

Amid these recent events, one of our partners was shot to death — along with his brother — while attempting to protect his community from Hamas terrorists that crossed the border and began massacring their quiet, peaceful community. This town is Netiv Ha’Asara. Over 20 people were killed there.

In another nearby community — Kfar Aza — Hamas murdered over 100 men, women, children, infants, and elderly people in the most barbaric fashion imaginable.

We recently spoke with one of our partners, Raz Shmilovich, who lives in Netiv Ha’Asara. He shared how he was tasked with walking through the deceased people’s homes to gather DNA samples, so their bodies that had been mutilated beyond recognition could be identified. He described walking through pools of blood left behind in their homes — trying to remember which family member lived in which bedroom or which toothbrush belonged to whom. He spoke with a shaky voice and tears in his eyes. You can watch his story here.

These people are our brothers and sisters. They were brutally attacked. Yet many right now are quick to blame Israel. If not direct blame, they avoid even using the word “terrorists” to describe Hamas, opting instead for “militants” or even “freedom fighters” in some cases. The reality is: many people have no context on the history and the complex geopolitical realities of this region.

Those who would accuse Israel as having “brought this on themselves” have no consideration for the oppression which the Jewish people have faced for millennia or for impossible decisions leaders are faced with when the very survival of their people is at stake.

Those who would accuse Israel right now — especially those in the Western world — are speaking based on propaganda they’ve heard in biased news sources and social media. They’re speaking based on both subtle and not-so-subtle antisemitic tropes that have survived for thousands of years, even after the horrors of the Holocaust.

But I can tell you — as someone who has been many times to Israel, to the Gaza border, to the West Bank; spoken with people on both sides of the conflict; and become close friends with the beautiful people living there — I stand unapologetically with Israel.

I’m first compelled to stand with Israel and the Jewish people as a human. The atrocities inflicted upon innocent civilians are unspeakably horrific. Full stop.

I’m also compelled to stand with Israel and the Jewish people as a Christian. My faith springs from the deep roots of Jewish heritage. I have the Jewish people to thank for my faith. If you believe the Bible, you know that God chose the Jewish people first. God blessed and delivered the Jewish people throughout history. Jesus was Jewish, and I cannot truly know him or follow him without proper respect and appreciation for his people.

I am reminded of two crucial Bible verses. In Zechariah 2:8, the prophet says, “he who touches you [Israel] touches that apple of his [God’s] eye.” In the New Testament, Paul reminds the Romans in his letter to them: “It is not you [Gentile Christians] who support the root [Israel/the Jewish people], but the root that supports you” (Rom. 11:18). Paul warns them here against arrogance and dismissiveness toward the Jewish people.

If arrogance and dismissiveness toward the Jewish people and Israel are wrong in God’s eyes, how much more would it be wrong to add to the oppression already inflicted upon them by staying silent in the face of harmful propaganda and folding our arms to do nothing in the face of unspeakable suffering?

If you consider yourself to be human, if you consider yourself to be Christian, I implore you to stand with Israel, too. To be a voice for the truth. To be a compassionate, helping hand in their moment of suffering and need.

If you are compelled to act as I am, here are some things you can do:

1. Pray fervently for Israel, for the Jewish people, and for all affected by Hamas’ terrorism — both Israelis and innocent civilians in Gaza who are also victims of Hamas.

2. Speak up and share the truth when you hear Israel and the Jewish people being blamed for the atrocities committed against them.

3. Give aid to the communities in Israel that are suffering right now. One option is to give to Passages’ Israel War Relief Fund which provides aid to the two communities I mentioned above­ — Netiv Ha’Asara and Kfar Aza.

Please prayerfully consider taking action. In the face of the horrors of the past week, may we become more compassionate, soft-hearted people who are willing to look at suffering and not look away, who will stand for righteousness and justice. In light of all that has happened, may we become better humans and Christians.

Mattanah DeWitt is the Director of Marketing for Passages Israel.

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