Truth or Consequences

Bansky Peace Dove on the “Wall” in Bethlehem.

There is a serious question that all must wrestle with regarding Palestine and Israel: are we more interested in truth or non-violence? What are the long term consequences of this choice?

I abhor violence. Standing by the bedside of a 12 year old who had been shot by an Israeli sniper in Bethlehem was gut wrenching. But, looking at the worry on his mother’s face was totally devastating. Being with a 16 year old who still has an Israeli bullet lodged in his brain was sickening. Watching his family fall to pieces tore my heart apart. Violence serves no purpose and it only begets retaliation.

In some ways, my natural inclination is to choose peace over truth. But –

I do not know the soldiers who shot these two young boys. I suspect the shooters were not much older than either of them. The soldiers will go on to live without any long term physical effects.

Meanwhile, the 12 year old will never fully recover from the injuries to the organs in his abdomen. The 16 year old still has a bullet lodged in his brain. Need I say any more?

I do not know – nor do I want to predict what the long term psychological scars will be for these four young people who in a strange way will forever be connected as a result of these two incidents.

I know some of the facts about these two incidents. I know the 12 year old was standing over 100 meters away from the Israeli wall when he was shot. I know the 16 year old innocently wandered into a situation where he became yet another statistic on a tally sheet. I know the Israeli soldiers who pulled their triggers were operating outside of their rules of engagement.

I also know that the Israeli military rules of engagement sound good on paper. In reality that paper provides a more opaque smokescreen than the tear gas clouds I frequently got caught up in while I lived there. I also know these rules are basically useless because they are ignored even when an international observer is watching a scene unfold.

What I know more deeply is all four will have a truth to tell about those two incidents. I also suspect that none of the four will ever find real peace until the truth is spoken to the other.

The Gospel compels us to recognize there are harsh realities in God’s world happening to our brothers and sisters in many places. What I know most deeply is the Gospel tells me the victims and the shooters are all my brothers and sisters.

May truth be spoken so peace may prevail on Earth.



































About Steve Berube

I am a team minister at St. Paul's United Church in Riverview, NB, Canada. I served as a human rights observer in Bethlehem while on sabbatical in the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) of the World Council of Churches.
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