To defy disunity in the Middle East

Originally appeared on

Recent images of escalating conflict in the Gaza Strip have been distressing to watch. It would seem that patterns of suffering which have played out over many decades are being devastatingly accentuated, flaring up for the whole world to witness. One attitude that fuels the cycles of violence and retaliation is the desire to be seen as defiant, whatever the cost.

As I’ve been praying for clarity about this situation, I’ve realized that defiance is, not in and of itself, a negative attitude. Courage to stand against the odds when facing an apparently stronger foe is a universally celebrated quality. Every culture has its own heroic tales of bold resistance under such duress. Just released to cinemas, for example, is a movie actually called Defiance that features a story of fighters resisting the Nazis in World War II Poland.

But there’s another way to look at “defiance.” We tend to think of it as one group of individuals resisting the other side. But what if that which deserves defying is actually of a decidedly mental nature. Might there be a common enemy of Israelis and Palestinians, including Hamas members, which soldiers, militants, and civilians could defy within themselves? Is there a foe that can be recognized and resisted by all who hunger in their hearts for permanent stability in Gaza?

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