Spirit Sightings

October 26, 2014: Texts of terror. Whose Land?

From Paul Turley

This week, as we read of the arrival of the Hebrews (who had escaped Egypt) into the land of Israel, the war in the Middle East over the tiny bit of land known as the Gaza Strip goes on.

“They keep on trying to kill us, every day, all day, this is their one and only goal. They want Israel to be Palestine with not one Jewish person alive.” These are the words of Mati Bloomberg, a resident of the illegal Jewish outpost of Esh Kodesh in the Palestinian Territories – Territories that Bloomberg and her fellow Esh Kodesh residents refuse to acknowledge is anything other than the ancient home of the Jews, as promised by God in texts such as the reading for today.

Less than two kilometres from Esh Kodesh is the Palestinian town of Kusra. In 2007, two boys from the town were chased from the vineyards of Tsviki Strouk by the owner. One of the boys escaped; the other, 16-year-old Imran Farach, was caught by Strouk and beaten.

Farach’s brother says, “They caught him and they started hitting him using weapons, their hands and sticks until he lost consciousness. Then they carried him in the car and they took him to the settlement Esh Kodesh, and there they continued to beat him even more. And after that, he woke up and he heard one of them tell the other, ‘Kill him!”’

Strouk was convicted by an Israeli court and spent 20 months in prison for the crime.

The most recent round of fighting between Israel and Hamas lasted for 50 days and left over 2,000 dead, the majority of them Palestinian civilians. Over 100,000 Gazans remain homeless.

Now, in the last week, a conference in Cairo has concluded with the international community pledging $5.4 billion to rebuild the shattered province.

But what will this rebuilding mean for Tsviki Strouk, Imran Farach, Mati Bloomberg, and the neighbouring settlements of Esh Kodesh and Kusra?

Explore... Deuteronomy 34:1–12

  • Knowing that some people read texts like the one for this week as a justification to claim the land as exclusively theirs, how should we approach this text?
  • Is there anything happening in the transitions contained in the text that might be helpful in the transitions happening in Israel and Palestine today?

Prayer links…

God, no matter our age, we have been aware of the troubles in the ancient lands on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea all ofour lives. With so much past pain, so much current hurt and damage, it is easy to despair. Remind us, God, that your plan for this region was delivered, in our great story, by an angel: “Peace on earth and goodwill to all people.” Amen.


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