Of Walls and of Mustafa Aslan

I never met Mustafa Aslan, but I know the people of Israel and Palestine – Christians, Jews, Muslims and Druze alike. Good people. People filled with compassion and faith. People with so much to offer for the benefit of their neighbors and the world as a whole. People who want peace, and through peace, a better life for them, their children, and their people.

Mustafa Aslan

Mustafa Aslan, age 24, was a champion boxer is Palestine, and coached many children and teens there who were  interested in boxing.

He was shot dead last week in an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) raid, part of Israel’s massive effort to find the three Israeli teens who disappeared on June 12th while traveling within the Gush Etzion block of settlements near Jerusalem in the West Bank.

Given that there is no solid evidence as to the fate or location of these teens at the moment (nor even who kidnapped them) the IDF’s operations are not about finding the three teenagers, at least not any more:  It has become a vendetta: a campaign of revenge and collective punishment, terrorizing a largely defenseless and submissive population.

So far, from what I can tell (as this incident, particularly with regard to the IDF’s actions, is hardly mentioned in the US Media), at least 5 Palestinians have been killed by IDF forces in this “search.”

Many of my Palestinian friends, the West Bank’s Palestinian political leadership, the United Nations, US Leadership, and many in Jews as well, are universal in unequivocally condemning the disappearances.  All of them also call for restraint on the part of Israeli military and police forces in their use of force in their search.

It almost goes without saying that the IDF’s brutal actions, which go far beyond reasonable given the circumstances and lack of any actionable information as to the status or fate of the missing teens, departs from wisdom, let alone international law.  The logic used to justify the actions of the Israeli military, and the shedding of innocent blood, only makes sense if one views all Palestinians as vermin who have no right to exist.

I never met Mustafa Aslan, but I know the people of Israel and Palestine – Christians, Jews, Muslims and Druze alike.  Good people.  People filled with compassion and faith.  People with so much to offer for the benefit of their neighbors and the world as a whole.  People who want peace, and through peace, a better life for them, their children, and their people.

And yet, murder is murder: killing people like Mustafa, a man whom many saw as a positive role model and mentor, will inspire anger and hatred among young Palestinians, reigniting a new generation in the seemingly never-ending cycle of violence and bloodshed in that part of the world.

A garden dedicated to peace and reconciliation built on the Palestinian side of the wall in Bethlehem, on the opposite side of the wall from “Rachel’s Tomb.”

I love the people of Israel and Palestine – no matter which side of the wall they live on.  But, building physical walls as well as walls of terror and hate, both of which the current Israeli government is do with great vigor, makes me think: long ago the Jews segregated themselves, or willingly allowed themselves to be segregated, into communities set apart and isolated from the societies around them.  Even though in the short run this enabled them to preserve their faith and their culture, in the long run it proved to be a costly decision.

So, I wonder: in building the physical walls that separate Israeli territory from Syria, from Lebanon, from Egypt, and from the West Bank; or in building these walls of pain that separate good and godly people from each other, is the Jewish government shutting the world out?  Or, are they shutting themselves in, as their ancestors did throughout Europe, North Africa and the Middle East did in centuries past?

No country or people has ever been able to dominate its neighbors (or its own citizens) indefinitely through terror and the force of arms.  Eventually, the bill for all the pain and terror they inflict comes due and cannot be avoided.  Is the Israeli government prepared to pay that debt on behalf of its people?  I doubt it, given that they are adding to that debt still.

I fear for the consequences to the people I love on both sides of that wall when the day of reckoning comes.

The cycle of violence can end.  The hate can end.  It has happened in many places throughout the world, even within our own lifetimes.  It begins with listening setting aside one’s own preconceptions and seeking to see oneself through the eyes of those whom you once saw as an enemy.


Copyright (c) 2014, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved.  I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as you are not seeking (or gaining) financial benefit for doing so, and as long as proper credit for my authorship is given. (e.g., via a credit that gives my full name and/or provides a link back to this site – or just email me and ask!)

Author: Allen

A would-be historian turned IT Professional who responded to the call to the Ministry, and is now focused on social justice and community service. He is the proud father of a daughter and son, and enjoys life with his wife near Boston. You can follow Pastor Allen on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PastorAllenV/.

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