By Owei Lakemfa
The human slaughter going on in Israel and Palestine are horrendous. In the first five days of the conflict, over 2,500 human beings were slaughtered. That is 500 per day. The Israelis tried to find their feet with many taking shelter in bunkers while the Palestinians whose food, fuel, water and electricity supplies have been cut off, have plenty supply of bombs from the skies.
Such a time of mass suffering and sorrow calls for empathy and demands of all to work for peace. Tragically, this is the time chosen by some political and religious leaders to take sides in the conflict and pour petrol in the raging fires.
The Bible proclaimed in Mathew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” It is a declaration that anybody who wants to be Christ-like must work for the peaceful resolution of conflicts whenever they occur. The peacemaker is the one working to reconcile human beings with others and with God. It is an emphasis that He we serve is “The God of peace” (Romans15:33). While men like Pope Francis mourned the many killed and prayed for their families, and the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, took a similar line for peace, men of God like Dr. Enoch Adeboye who leads the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, took sides, praying for one of the sides in the conflict to triumph.
Adeboye with a PhD in Mathematics said he and his followers are praying for the victory of their ”Beloved Brothers in Israel.” What gibberish is this? Who are his beloved brothers in Israel; the 73.6 per cent that are Jewish, the 18.1 per cent that are Muslims, 1.9 per cent that are Christians or the 1.6 per cent Druze? Who told him that Israelites are Christians or that it is a Christian State? Adeboye prayed that: “The Almighty God, the only one of Israel will give you absolute victory and give you permanent peace from now…” Can there be permanent peace anywhere? In all these, I am ashamed that Adeboye did not consider the Palestinians or rather, does not think they and their children are human beings.
With thousands dying and many more injured, Adeboye said: “We are praying we will get very, very good results very soon…” What good results can he be praying for? The annihilation of the Palestinians? Can the mass slaughter of human beings over land and politics bring ”good results”? Adeboye needs to ask for forgiveness and pray for peace for all humans impacted by this unnecessary conflict, be they Israelis or Palestinians.
He should also realise that as the General Overseer of the RCCG, his words carry weight, therefore, he needs to weigh before uttering them. These were times that call for statesmen who can work for a quick ceasefire, bring both sides to the table and fashion out a programme to end the 80-year conflict. Tragically, what we find mainly are leaders whose primary objectives are taking sides and stocking the fires.
When renewed hostilities broke out on September 7, 2023, the first reaction of President Joe Biden was not how to bring the conflict which is eight decades old, to an end, but how to further prolong it. He assured Israel of rock solid support and military supplies. An old man like him ought to have learnt the good lessons of one of his predecessors, President Bill Clinton for whom the eruption of fresh conflicts between the two sides meant that there was little or no time to resolve the conflict. That was why he convened the 2000 Camp David Peace negotiations.
One of the men stoking the fires is American Republican politician, David Bog whose mainly false claims “Five times Palestinians rejected Israel’s olive branch –Time to rethink?” have gone viral. He purports to be a researcher but his main book ‘Standing With Israel’ has been found to be quite unreliable. In a review of the book in the Journal of Church and State, Nikolas K. Gvosdev wrote that the book: “suffers from the fact that its author wants to make definitive statements on a variety of issues while ignoring inconvenient details.”
In the said video, Bog claims that Israel has offered the Palestinians a state of their own five times and that five times have the Palestinians turned it down. He claimed the first time was in 1936 when Arabs rebelled against the British colonialists who had seized the areas from the Ottoman Empire. If the areas were colonised by the British, and there was no Jewish state, how could the Jews have been in a position to offer the Palestinians a state of their own?
The second instance he claimed, was in 1947 when the United Nations suggested a two-state solution. In other words, such an offer came either from the UN or the British colonial masters, certainly not from Israel. Any one conversant with the history of the Middle East knows that at that time, Jewish immigrants who came from Europe and were trying to set up a Jewish State, were involved in armed conflicts against their Palestinian neigbours and the British colonialists. One of the most infamous acts of this group was the July 22, 1946 bombing of the King David Hotel in which 91 died, including 25 Britons, 41 Arabs and 17 Jews. The bombing was by the Irgun terror group led by Menachem Begin who became the Prime Minister of Israel from 1977 to 1983.
At the time of the bombing, the hotel’s southern wing housed the headquarters of the British Colonial administration. The bombing was part of the attempt by the Jewish group to force the British out. So how could Israel have offered the Palestinians a state and how could the latter have declined the offer? He said that after the 1967 war, the Arab states ruled out negotiations with Israel. How does this tantamount to an offer and rejection of statehood by Palestinians.
Bog claimed the fourth time was the Camp David Accord. Anyone can google this. There was no agreement at Camp David so there could have been neither an offer nor rejection of statehood. The only Bog claim that is correct is that in 2008, Israel offered the Palestinians statehood, but their leader Mahmoud Abass declined on the basis that he should be given the chance to study the map produced by Israel before accepting the offer. This to me was a sensible demand.
It is not surprising that Iran supports Hamas. Can this be a justification for Britain, which created the problems in the Middle East, to support Israel? Children, women, the elderly are dying in this conflict; the immediate task of humanity is to stop the slaughter.
Owei Lakemfa, a former secretary general of Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), is a human rights activist, journalist, and author.