Elijah once felt that all was lost, that
only he was left to glorify the Lord.
Yet the Lord sent him back to this land
and eventually acted through him to defeat
the prophets of Baal in a way that Elijah
could not have foreseen. Perhaps today
we need to be ready to recognize the Lord's
hand working in unexpected ways. Some
15 people were killed yesterday in several
separate incidents, the most serious of
which was a bus-bomb retaliation for the
Israeli bombing of Gaza. There has been
a steady series of such horrible incidents
since that horrible bombing. Yet the climate
has changed in recent weeks.
First there was a long quiet period
before the bombing of Gaza, and it has
been well-reported that the bombing happened
after Israel learned the PA, Hamas, and
Islamic Jihad had completed an agreement
to announce a unilateral cease-fire. It
had received all necessary signatures
and awaited only the press conference.
Prime Minister Sharon so obviously shattered
those plans with the bomb that even Shimon
Peres said publicly that Sharon had no
interest in peace. After promising revenge,
even some Hamas members have said they
will reconsider the cease-fire agreement
at a later time.
Meanwhile Sharon has indicated that the
Israeli reaction to yesterday's violence
will be more measured. There will be no
tightening of the restrictions on Palestinians
and no crushing military action, though
the Defense Forces did enter Nablus in
My personal reading of the situation
is that finally the need for revenge is
giving way to greater needs. One hears
more condemnation of suicide bombers in
places where it would not have been heard
earlier. Not everyone is yet at that point,
but I think the swing is obvious. The
bottom line now is economic. Palestinians
are finally realizing that bombers hurt
Palestine more than Israel, and Israel
is realizing they cannot afford a continuing
escalation. Israel is also facing a storm
of international criticism for the humanitarian
plight of a couple million people they
have kept under house arrest.
A USAID-sponsored study showed a fifth
of the children suffering from malnutrition,
and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Israel must either assume responsibility
for distribution of food and supplies
or loosen the restrictions so Palestinians
can do it for themselves. Not all Israelis
admit the economic crisis, so Sharon is
facing increasing opposition in the Knesset.
Yet I believe the majority on both sides
are being forced to the same conclusion:
it is time to bury the hatchet.
The one other factor is the US intention
in Iraq. Should armed conflict happen
in Iraq, it would have a tremendous effect
here. The USA would be making a mistake
to invade Iraq in any case, but particularly
if the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is
not settled. There just simply does not
seem to be enough support in the Middle
East for the USA to go forward. Should
they do so, it would bury the rest of
the economy here. I pray reason will prevail
in the USA and they will look at the consequences
of simply relying upon military power.
Israel is Exhibit A for that path.
Surely the Lord works through economics
as much as through national leaders. Certainly
leaders should have peace as a priority,
but perhaps the Lord is forcing their
hands. Perhaps the economy is awakening
the general public to the fact that we
are all better off if we spend our time
feeding the hungry and visiting the sick
rather than trying to force our solutions
on the Lord and each other. Jesus tried
to tell us that a couple of thousand years
ago, but we seem to be slow learners.
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