Friday, July 18, 2014

The Slaughter of the Innocents

Photo by Momen Faiz
Matthew chapter 2 tells the story of the slaughter of the innocents as a part of the birth narrative of Jesus.  According to the story evil King Herod fearing the prophecy that a new king of the Jews has been born orders the Magi to tell him when they find the child.  The Magi do not report back to him so Herod orders the deaths of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and younger.  It's a tragic story of the blatant disregard for for human life in the quest to maintain power, but it is most likely completely fictional.  There is no historical evidence to suggest that such a slaughter of children ever took place under Herod's reign.

The same cannot be said for the Palestinians in Gaza, however.  A real life slaughter of the innocents is taking place there right now.  Over 200 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air strikes with over 40 of them being children.  Civilian homes have been targeted with the 1,500 pound bombs used by Israel.  It is important to keep in mind that the residents of Gaza have nowhere to go to escape the bombing.  The borders of Gaza and Israel have been closed and they are hemmed in by the sea.  A population of 1.7 Palestinians live in about 140 square miles and half of the population is comprised of children.  To target civilian homes is to target innocent children.  No political jargon or double talk can avoid this fact.  Israel is dropping 1,500 pound bombs on children.

This fact was made abundantly clear by Wednesday's bombing of  four children on a beach in Gaza.  Hamas was not present.  No rocket launchers were in the vicinity, just fisherman trying to go about their daily lives and children playing on the beach.  Ahed and Muhammed Baker were 11.  Zakariah Baker was 10 and Ismail Baker was 9.  Their crime?  They simply wanted to play outside after being cooped up in their houses for days since the Israeli air strikes began.  They were innocent and they were slaughtered.  No one can deny that.  What are we going to do about it?

We must not remain silent.  We must inform people about the atrocities taking place in Gaza.  We must speak up and demand an end to the slaughter.  We must remind the world that slaughtering children is never acceptable, justifiable or inevitable.  And for people of faith in particular, we have absolutely no right to call ourselves the people of God if we do nothing in the face of injustice, suffering and oppression.  If the slaughter of innocent children does not move us to take action what will?  Now is the time to put our faith into action.

Following The Way,

WARNING!  The following video shows graphic footage of the victims of Wednesday's bombing.  Please be advised.  It is very difficult to watch, but I believe it is very important to bear witness to such atrocities so we may be motivated to act and prevent future atrocities from happening again.

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