Monday, October 27, 2014

No more violence; focus on peace

Violent solutions have repeatedly failed to solve the world’s problems. It’s time for a new approach.

By Rev. Darrell Mitchell

Originally published as a letter to the editor in the Marshalltown Times-Republican.

When I traveled to the Holy Land in 2008, I met a young Israeli soldier, now a member of "Breaking the Silence," a group of 500 Israeli soldiers who left the Israeli Army for moral reasons. He told us he was instructed by his commanding officer that if any Palestinian ever came up to the top of the hill he was guarding that he was instructed to kill that person. Well, a Muslim couple came up to the top of that hill, planning to have a picnic.

“I was instructed to kill and so I did kill,” he said. “My religious teaching and upbringing did not go along with that order to kill and I was doing this on Palestinian land. I decided to leave the army.”

A fairly young militant Muslim spoke to our group. His 17-year-old daughter was killed by an Israeli soldier as she was going to her high school one morning. It was then that he saw who the real enemy was in his life and it was not Israel or any other armed resistant people. The real enemy was putting his trust in violence.

We are not born to hate. Hate is acquired. When we develop a conscience about God, about people, and see each human being as someone very special, something happens inside of us. That is what happened to this young Israeli soldier. That is what happened to this young Muslim father. A growing conscience about violence needs to take place in our world and here in America. We have placed too much reliance upon violence as a way to solve our problems and it is not working.

Steve Koppman, coauthor of “A Treasury of American-Jewish Folklore” wrote an anti-Zionist piece that says Jews should be supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement because it epitomizes the best Jewish values in opposition to the militant Jewish state that oppresses Palestinians.

Peter Beinart, a journalism and political science professor, wrote a column calling on American Jews who believe in the two-state solution to take direct action now and like the Mississippi Freedom Summer go out to the West Bank to oppose the settlement program. He wants liberal Zionists to march alongside the Palestinian activists and the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction movement.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is divesting $184 million from supporting the Israeli prison system. I support justice for both the Israelis and the Palestinians. Peace must come.

Darrell Mitchell is a minister in the United Methodist Church and serves on Iowa Peace Network's Joint Oversight Committee.

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