If I Grew Up in Gaza

If I grew up in the Gaza Strip, I might fire rockets into Israel too.

I would be wrong to do so. It would constitute terrorism and be counter-productive to my ultimate objectives of peace and liberty. But I may have lost so much that I don’t care anymore.

If I grew up in Gaza I would live in a land that my ancestors had lived in for centuries; until they were conquered by the British 1922.

If I grew up in Gaza I would observe November 29, 1948 as my Day of Infamy: when a collection of Western nations voted to give over half of my country to the recently-arrived Jews. I would always wonder why my country’s Greatest Generation gave up their homes to assuage the guilt of the crimes of the West’s Greatest Generation.

If I grew up in Gaza I wouldn’t know what it was like to live in a country free from occupied rule. I would, however, be uncomfortably familiar with being ruled from within by an occupying army (the case until I was 15), and with being ruled from the outside since then.

If I grew up in Gaza I would never have looked beyond my borders without seeing the fence, ships, and jets that cage a population three times the size of Washington DC’s into an area only twice the size.

If I grew up in Gaza I’d know first-hand about the Swiss advocacy group’s report about 30 children shot in a span of 19 months for straying too close to the fence. Perhaps one of those children was mine.

If I grew up in Gaza, because our electrical grid and commerce are controlled by the very country that once occupied us, I’d have grown accustomed to the flickering lights and the sounds of generators, the scarcity of fresh produce, and the limited access to clean water.

If I grew up in Gaza I would long for Detroit’s unemployment rate of 10-12% compared to our nearly 40%. I’d feel the collective weight of 38% of us living under the poverty line, so I wouldn’t need to read the recent U.N. report warning that without change Gaza will cease to be “a livable place” in just eight years.

If I grew up in Gaza I would not have voted for Hamas in 2006’s U.S-backed elections. Even so, my absolute lack of recourse against the daily and systemic injustices to my family would have left me paralyzed, hopeless, and terrified for my children’s future. More than anything, I feel desperate.

If I grew up in Gaza I might disagree with the 2,200+ rockets we fired into Israel since January this year, and the 6 deaths they caused. But even more, I’d weep at the countless funerals for the 100 people in Palestine who were killed only last week.  53 of our dead were civilians, and many were children. I would also seek paltry medical aid from our third-world hospitals for my burns and lacerations with the other 839 people who were wounded, including 225 children. The abundance of funerals, the frequency of screaming children, and the absence of pain killers wouldn’t leave me much time to even consider the 3 Israeli civilians killed and the their dozens of wounded in the last week.

Also, if I grew up in Gaza I would not understand my Christian brothers and sisters in the US:

  • I would not understand how their faith could lead to a vested interest in Israel’s ancient claims to my land, while simultaneously leading to a callous, nonchalant  dismissal of the Native Americans’ relatively recent claims to their land. Here in Gaza we call that hypocrisy.
  • I would not understand how a country embedded with phrases like “No taxation without representation,” and “Don’t tread on me,” could be so impervious to my country’s underdog struggle for our own Independence Day.
  • I would not understand how people who sign petitions of secession after an undesirable election could not at least empathize with our desire for protest and change.
  • I would not understand how so many US Christians could express their prayer support for their brothers and sisters in Israel while failing to mention their prayers for the Christian here.
  • I would not understand why the secular, geopolitical state of Israel is automatically equated to the kingdom of Israel God ruled in the Old Testament. I would also not understand why the promises of God to the OT Israel, many of which were contingent on Israel’s obedience, apply to a country whose population is only 2% Christian.

If I grew up in the Gaza Strip, I might fire rockets into Israel too.

And more importantly, so might you.





About Tim Owens

I'm a husband, father, and Christ follower. I also live in Albany, NY, where I work as a pastor.
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5 Responses to If I Grew Up in Gaza

  1. sent2preach says:

    Both sides can find numerous reasons to justify their murder and hatred. I may be wrong, but it seems this blog entry could be an example of doing just that. If we feel it is important to utilize a scalpel for irrelevant yet popular bits of entertainment, should we not also apply the same suggested balance to the larger and more impactful real life issues? Just thinking out loud.

  2. Tim Owens says:

    I appreciate the comment–i love thinking out loud! i hope this blog isn’t justifying murder and hatred, but i understand it does ‘toe the line.’ I made far more revisions to this one than my usual posts, trying to avoid just that. my chief purpose was to introduce a difference of perspective on the Gaza conflict. I sense that many people I’m around see this as a completely black and white issue–Hamas are terrorists, they keep attacking Israel, and Israel is defending itself. While all of those statements are true, they don’t include the whole truth. Or, as I’ve heard it said, they’re not true enough. My goal wasn’t to stir up sympathy for acts of violence and terror, but rather sympathy for Hamas’ objectives: some type of two-state compromise (which I realize is far more complicated than a blog post allows for, especially when we add Jerusalem to the discussion). Hamas’ means are flawed and unproductive, but the desire for a free Palestinian state is worth considering. Again, I was hoping to apply the balance of the scalpel I mentioned in an earlier post, but am open to the possibility that I wasn’t successful.

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