The Mark of a Christian Today

The recent siege of systematic targeting of Christians in the Middle East should spur us to action in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ. While separated from them geographically, we are called to unite ourselves with them in spirit: praying for their safety and an end to the widespread anti-Christian violence in that region. We should do our part to educate those around us, informing our communities and making the seriousness of this situation and our position known to our leaders and representatives. The truth about this tragic and fearful situation must be understood with honest clarity. Our readiness and ability to identify with our fellow “Nazarenes” who have been branded as subjects for oppression and victimization is truly a test of our own Christianity. If we are unmoved by their plight and do not feel compelled to act on their behalf, we fail to live out our calling to be “members of one another” (Eph. 4:25).

Perhaps we should also ask ourselves, at this critical juncture, whether or not we would be marked as Christians by those around us. Would our lifestyles, attitudes, and actions identify us as followers of Christ? Would we be found worthy to bear the title “Nazarene,” as our persecuted brethren in Iraq have been, labelled as such in a context reminiscent of the betrayal of our savior who, “knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, ‘Whom are you looking for?’ They answered him, ‘Jesus the Nazorean.’ He said to them, ‘I AM’ ”(Jn. 18:4-5). How often do we hide away, preferring our own security and social acceptance to the demands of discipleship? We regularly cower in secrecy, seeking our own comfort while concealing our Christian identity as Peter did, warming his hands by the fire while denying that he even knew Jesus.

Those who are identified and marked as Christians in Iraq are given three choices by their ISIS persecutors: conversion, acceptance of oppressive conditions, or death. Though, thanks be to God, in the West we are not faced with the immediate danger of this sort of threat, in spiritual solidarity perhaps we should recognize that we are all given these same three options, though in a different form with perhaps more room to attempt compromise. Christians living in any society that is inhospitable towards Christianity are given a choice either to convert (abandon their Christianity in favor of popular anti-religious attitudes and rhetoric), to passively accept oppressive conditions (silently enduring infringements upon freedom, biases, and the general difficulty of trying to be faithful in an opposed society), or to die: to actively resist and counteract evil in our world, willing to accept the full consequences of doing so in the hope and trust that we will be vindicated and that Satan will not have the last word.

The notion of being marked in accordance with our relationship to God should be horrifying for us all. It leaves no grey area: you are either marked or you are not. Most of our notions of Christian identity leave us some opportunity to blur the lines of inclusion and allow us the benefit of the doubt. But when we are presented with a choice of either bearing a mark or not bearing it, we are faced with a concrete and blatant choice. Our mark, or lack thereof, is both objective and affective; it signifies and brings about a real change in our existence and future. It brings to mind several instances in Scripture where God’s faithful are set apart by a special marking bestowed upon them for the purpose of preparation for an imminent crisis.

For example, God appeared to Ezekiel in a vision through which God showed Ezekiel the horrendous abominations that were being committed in the House of God, explaining why his presence was forced to leave the Temple (Ezek. 8:9-18). In this vision, the Lord marked those who were faithful with an X (the Hebrew letter tahv) as a promise that they would be saved from the destruction that would befall all those opposed to God. His servants were instructed to pass through the city and strike down without mercy those who did not bear the mark (Ezek. 9:4-10). This marking and subsequent judgment in Ezekiel’s vision would have reminded the Jews of their history as God’s specially protected people, rescued in dramatic fashion at Passover. In preparation for the final plague, the Hebrews were to mark the two doorpost and the lintel to signify their identity and be spared from death (Exod. 12:7).

We are given a similar image in the Revelation to John, where once again a select group is made distinct from the masses by the bestowal of a mark, signifying their preservation by God. “Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God” (Rev. 7:3). The 144,000 (a multiple of the 12 tribes of Israel: the assembly of God’s chosen) would be spared from the wrath of the Lamb. This also draws a distinction between those sealed with the name of God and those that bear the mark of the beast (Rev. 13:17). In other words, everyone bears a mark: we are either marked for God or marked for the anti-God; destined for everlasting life in the new creation or for everlasting death in separation from it, “for the world in its present form is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:31).

So what do all these Scripture passages have in common? The Bible seems to consistently teach that being marked for God means two things: 1) a great tribulation is going to ensue, and 2) those who are marked will be spared. This is not to say, however, that being saved means that you will not suffer. It seems significant that being marked never, in Biblical Tradition, suggests that there are easy times ahead. Quite the contrary: those who are marked know that judgment is at hand; that an experience of “the great and terrible day” (Mal. 3:23) is assuredly on the horizon. The good news is that even though those who are marked will be a part of the same crisis as those who are not, their mark assures them that the crisis will not destroy them; it will purify them in preparation for the glory that awaits. Those marked by their identity in Christ have been called to share in his experience, as Jesus said: “I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, No slave is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (Jn. 15:19-20).

Mosul Christians marked by the “Nun” fit this Biblical category, though they do so in a seemingly reversed way. While Scriptural revelation describes a marking for the faithful given by God for their protection, we are witnessing the opposite: the faithful given a mark by those opposed to Christ for their condemnation. But, when viewed in the context of the larger Biblical theme, we see that their mark (and ours, if we are courageous enough to accept it in our own sphere) accomplishes the same purpose in the end. The violence of this world is transformed into an instrument of divine justice in which the forces of evil at work in the world, bent on eliminating Jesus Christ, become the very means by which the glory of God is made manifest.

When we suffer at the hands of those seeking to remove God from the world, God is invited to become present in new and fruitful ways. When those who want us to abandon our faith persecute us, we truly become Christians. Our oppressors “open a hole and dig it deep, but fall into the pit they have dug. Their mischief comes back upon themselves; their violence falls on their own heads” (Ps. 7:16-17). Like the King’s servants who cast the companions of Daniel into the furnace, they themselves are consumed while the servants of God “walked about in the flames, singing to God and blessing the Lord” (Dan. 3:22-23). The conditions of this world which, when fanned by the evil actions of fallen humanity, seem so incompatible with God’s presence, are the ones which, if we have patience and faith, can be the very conditions which bring about salvation. The ones who deal out vengeance become the ones who suffer its consequences, while the victims are consoled and vindicated. As we hear from the Prophet Malachi:

The day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire…. But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays; And you will gambol like calves out of the stall and tread down the wicked; They will become ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day I take action, says the Lord of hosts (Mal. 3:19-21).

When is this day of the Lord of which the prophets spoke? It is past, present, and future. It is, as God himself is, always right now. It is right now that God offers us a share in his identity, with all the pain and all the joy that comes with that identification. He invites us to be marked for him: marked for rejection, marked to suffer, and marked indeed for eternal happiness with him. As we pray for the suffering members of our Church, whose suffering is our suffering, perhaps we should also pray for our own worthiness to be identified with our Risen Savior. It seems that in order to be marked for salvation, we must first be marked for persecution, suffering, and, in one way or another, a dying in this world and, hopefully, rising in the next.

Editor’s note: Pictured above is a Christian home in Mosul, Iraq marked with the “N” sign.

Dusty Gates


Dusty Gates currently serves as the Director of Adult Education at the Spiritual Life Center for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, KS, and as an adjunct Professor of Theology at Newman University in Wichita, KS, where he resides with his wife and three children.

  • mollysdad

    “In this vision, the Lord marked those who were faithful with an X (the
    Hebrew letter tahv) as a promise that they would be saved from the
    destruction that would befall all those opposed to God.”

    This is very, very interesting. In Exodus 17 we read that God will have war with Amalek from generation to generation and that He will blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. In Deuteronomy 25 He commands Israel to always remember, and never forget, what Amalek did to them when the Israelites came out of Egypt, and to blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. In 1 Samuel 15 we read that the King of Israel is under orders to devote the Amalekites to destruction and to wipe them out completely.

    Who is Amalek? Anyone who is wicked and dangerous enough to accomplish the complete destruction of the people of God so that the memory of the name of Israel is blotted out (Psalms 83). Anyone who wages war (jihad) against God. Anyone committed to the genocide of His people.

    Who can deny that it is as certain as an article of faith that Jesus Christ, the Lord of Hosts, commands all the nations to wage war against Caliph Ibrahim and all who give him the bay’at of allegiance, to place them and their possessions under the herem of destruction and to annihilate them completely?

    • Fred

      Reflect on that while you read the letter the annointed one wrote thanking the many contributions that were made to the fabric of our society to mark the celebration of Eid-al-Fitr this past Sunday.

      • BillinJax

        And his great amen along with his blessings to the wonderful work of Planned (abortion) Parenthood.

        • Fred

          Not just a blessing, but he invoked God’s name. I still have the feeling of wanting to hurl when I think about that moment. He and Gosnell might as well be one and the same. Must be really proud of all the training that they give young girls in perverted sexuality too.

      • mollysdad

        The anointed one? You mean he to whom Jeremiah Wright said: “My ass baptize yo ass in the name of Allah, and of al-Masih, and of Mohammed.”

  • Vinnie

    “It seems that in order to be marked for salvation, we must first be marked for persecution, suffering, and, in one way or another, a dying in this world and, hopefully, rising in the next.” In a nutshell, faith. Faith is a tiny word with massive implications.

    • newguy40

      “In a nutshell, faith. Faith is a tiny word with massive implications.”

      Oh yes. That is very true. I completed my Confirmation as an adult. Since then, a day doesn’t go by that I don’t reflect on the consequences of that action on my part. Miles Christi. I’ve felt more strengthened than ever.

      “You must not shirk your duty. This war is unavoidable and you must either fight or die.” from The Spiritual Combat by Fr. Lorenzo

    • Fred

      Vinnie, the ground work has been laid for decades preparing for this moment and we are under full frontal assault with our would be persecutors counting on our continued and collective timidity in defending Christ. I have been reading and re-reading Matthew 5:44 finding it a particularly hard message to follow these days. I pray for the wisdom to understand and how to pray for our enemies, because it seems clearer every day that the prince of this world is having his way and enjoying every minute of it. I used to feel more insulated from it but no longer can when the darkness has washed ashore in this country and the tentacles are trying to strangle and silence. I never thought in my lifetime I’d see such perversion of the truth twisted and spewed from the mouths of those who want to control us, truly the prince is cunning. I also pray that the many who profess to believe in Christ that they may wake up from their slumber and find their voices too. God bless.

  • I’ve got my slacktivist mark. Now what?

    • ColdStanding

      Theodore, I believe that you error seriously in adopting or displaying this symbol. The mark of Christian solidarity is the Crucifix.

      • Why would the crucifix of Christ’s Death be more powerful (or in fact any different) than the Nasara of his life? Both are symbols. Both are powerful. But one thumbs its nose at Satan and the other thumbs its nose at Islamic Jihadists, and it is the second I’m doing with my totally worthless slacktivism. I’m not real sure that putting a crucifix on my avatar would be any different, but that does give me an idea of how to thumb my nose at both, when I get a chance to play around a bit with an image editor.

        • ColdStanding

          If you could see my shocked expression.

          I don’t know where to begin the Herculean task of disabusing you of your strange notions of the equality of one symbol to another.

          • All symbols have equal value when they’re representing the same thing. A symbol is not the thing it is representing, it is only an abstraction of the actual thing it represents. But more importantly, symbols are subjective and arbitrary. Always.

            • ColdStanding

              Always? Seriously. I mean seriously!

              First of all, mohammadism, being at minimum iconoclastic, actively discourages images. So, right off the bat, accepting the Arabic letter as being equivalent coin to the Crucifix is to deprive God of His just due. The Holy Spirit, in guiding the Church, has fostered literal depictions. Tradition allows, nay, encourages statues, pictures and other artistic representations of our Savior and His saints. Tradition also has elevated the Crucifix above all other sacramentals. An exorcist does not use the Arabic letter nun to drive out demons, does he? If all symbols were the same value when referring to the same thing, then they could, right? But they don’t and don’t because they are not the same value. The one is in no way the equivalent of the other. That’s case closed right there.

              Ask yourself: Could you validly consecrate a host made from rice flour? Barley flour? Corn? Millet? They are all grains. You can make unleavened bread from them all. You can even form them into the shape of the host. Why can’t they be used? Because Tradition says that it is wheat only. Is that arbitrary? Maybe to you it is, but not to Tradition. Tradition trumps, thumps and bumps your interpretation.

              Away with your spineless dhimmitude.

              • Objectivetruth

                Very we’ll formed, excellent argument ColdStanding. I agree, the pivotal point that finally drove Satan to his knees was Christ’s death on the cross. Our redemption began then.

                • ColdStanding

                  I thank you for your agreement. However I am in a very persnickety mood and you are not strictly accurate in saying our redemption began at Christ’s Crucifixion. Our redemption began with God’s promise to Adam and Eve to send a redeemer. It was on the basis of their belief in this coming redeemer and their ensuing life of penance (900 years in Adam’s case) that saved them from eternal damnation. So says tradition.

                  The words of our Lord on the Cross as His Holy Life expired were, “Consummatum est.” “It is finished.” His death on the Cross is the completion of His work of salvation. Now, we are enabled to take up our cross and follow the path He made passable. We represent (The Mass is a propitiatory representment of Calvary) His completed sacrifice and our Heavenly Father accepts it because it is an image of the sacrifice His beloved Son made.

                  Sorry, it was an itch I just had to scratch.

                  • Objectivetruth

                    I stand corrected….and educated! Thanks!

                    Thoughts on “Consummatum est?” One (of various) interpretations I’ve heard is the “consummation” between the bridegroom (Christ) and the bride (the Church.) am I on the right track?

                    “Persnickety” is A-OK in my book, CS! It shows passion for the faith and proper catechesis.

                    Stay frosty…..

                  • Objectivetruth

                    “It was on the basis of their belief in this coming redeemer and their ensuing life of penance (900 years in Adam’s case) that saved them from eternal damnation. So says tradition.”

                    Which is why we may call them SAINTS Adam and Eve.

              • I suggest starting with some basic philosophy so that we’re on the same page:

                Huge numbers of people confuse symbols with what the symbols represent. The two are not the same.

                And yes, Tradition, important as it is (and I’m still Catholic, I agree it is important) is still largely arbitrary. The crucifix on your rosary *represents* Jesus on the Cross. It is not a living man from 2000 years ago magically miniaturized and screaming in pain on your Rosary, no matter how ridiculously you might believe that.

                Finally, I’m using this symbol the same way a black rapper uses the term nigger- in opposition to oppression.

                • ColdStanding

                  No, no. You use it that way because you are ripe for dhimmitude.

                  I am not in confusion.

                  I never said that the Crucifix was actually Jesus Christ. I said it was a symbol – a symbol elevated by grace to a sacramental – elevated above all others in honour, dignity, and importance.

                  • Objectivetruth

                    For what it’s worth, a crucifix falls more in line as a sacramental (as you had mentioned, CS.) from EWTN:

                    Our crucifix, icons and other articles are examples of what we call sacramentals. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sacramentals are sacred signs instituted by the Church to prepare us to receive the fruit of the sacraments and to sanctify different circumstances of our lives (no. 1677).

                    If Satan walks through my front door tonight, gotta admit my first move is for the crucifix above my bedroom door!

                    Second move is to dive out the window…….

                    • ColdStanding

                      The prayer of the Desert Fathers, very popular with the Benedictines, is: Oh God! Hear my cry! Oh Lord! Make haste to help me.

                      Stops temptation dead. It is a really useful way to bring Jesus into all that one does.

                      Fr. Michael Mueller (RIP) recommends counting the number of prayers made during the day. He says you need to pay as much attention to the prayers you make as a merchant does to counting cash.

                      The St. Michael prayer, in Latin if you can, is also highly recommended, though I do not find it easily comes to the lips like the Oh God! Hear & etc. prayer.

                    • Objectivetruth

                      Outstanding. Thanks.

  • LazyLou

    Is it any use to call our Bishops and ask them are they doing ANYTHING for our brothers and sisters in Iraq and the Middle East right now and what can we do too? Another question, what is our Holy Father doing, besides saying the Angelus for them? I am all for action, but if our Bishops are not leading us to action, our politicians or even our Holy Father, then I think all we can do is pray and do penace for the Iraqi Christians. The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) have called for the Faithful to offer up this coming Friday, the First Friday as a special day of fasting and penance for the Iraqi Christians. Pity the Pope and the USCCB haven’t called on the Faithful to the same.

    • DE-173

      The USSCB is like most bureaucracies, long on talk, short on do.

    • ForChristAlone

      USCCB….a hapless outfit if ever there was one. If Christians in the US were being assailed like they are in Iraq, Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, and elsewhere, our bishops (with a few exceptions) would be leading from behind. The laity need to start recommending real men to the Papal Nuncio to advance from priestly ministry to the episcopacy. This pattern of the feckless choosing who gets to join them among the rank of the episcopacy needs to end.

      • LazyLou

        I thought the laity could not recommend clergy to the Papal Nuncio. Priests of the same Diocese do not even have this power.

        • ForChristAlone

          Believe me when i say that if enough signatures of Catholics registered in parishes throughout a diocese recommended a particularly worthy and holy priest to be advanced to the episcopate and sent this recommendation to the Papal Nuncio and a copy to the Congregation of Bishops and the Holy Father at the Vatican, they’d take notice. This old boy network that gave us the likes of Cardinal Bernardine needs to end…soon.

  • ColdStanding

    As unwelcome as this comment might be, it is important to understand that adopting the Arabic letter nun as a symbol of oppression – I get why it is being used as such – actually plays into the islamic concept of migration and submission. Migration is the idea that all muslims must live in muslim lands. To begin the migration is to start wearing the head scarf and adopting other customs that mark one as a muslim, even if literal migration does not happen – it is the start of submission. To start wearing the letter “nun” is to accept the muslim definition of Christians; to accept an islamic identifier of Christians in preference to our holy symbols; it is the beginning of submission.

    It is the beginning of either (and both) dhimminitude (and the jizya) or migration (akin to conversion) to islam.

    We already have the most potent identifier available of our Christian Faith: the Crucifix.

    Our Faith is “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Therefore, ever and always, lift high the Cross. Accept no substitutes.

    You must know against what you struggle. It is not men, but flesh, dominions and thrones. These are living ideas. This is a battle of ideas.

  • cestusdei

    If we marked Muslim homes in the US what would Muslims around the world do? Any guesses?

    • DE-173

      The Danish cartoon incident was a preview.

  • russell snow

    I have trouble discerning God’s will in all these events. Since there really are no Christian nations left, it would seem that only Israel, fights those who clearly want to exterminate the Jews as well as the Christians. The decadent western nations, who did not have clean hands in the current conflict in the Ukraine, and certainly not in the Middle East, are practicing a softer version of the persecution of Christians, especially those who oppose the ideology of abortion and homosexuality. The result, though less physically painful will be the same: the elimination of Catholic teaching, especially in matters of morals, from the face of the earth. I wonder at the leadership of the Catholic Church. In the face of mass murderers, are prayers and good wishes enough? Should we say to the persecuted Christians in the Middle East:. “Goodbye and good luck?” What is God’s will in this matter? What does God expect of the Church? Is the situation of the Church today similar to the time before Constantine? Is it God’s will that we like sheep are to go willing to the slaughter house? Is it God’s will for us to take up arms? Does the moral value that the strong have a moral obligation to protect the weak still pertain? I have more questions than answers.

    • ForChristAlone

      The answer is simple. Muslims needs to come to know Christ. Who better than to lead this effort? Our bishops. Why? Because it is simply Christ’s mandate to proclaim the Gospel to the world and this Gospel is built around the kerygma. Now let’s all get behind our bishops who will be leading this charge.

  • Thaddeus J. Kozinski

    Another mark of a genuine Christian is to defend all victims of mass-murder, both Muslims and fellow Christians, and not to confuse the victims with the perpetrators.

    • HA

      Here’s a tip: try focusing your efforts on denouncing Hamas (i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood). You might actually do some good, and you’ll get plenty of help. The Egyptians have no love for Hamas. Jordan has no love for Hamas. The dwindling Lebanese Christians and the growing Shia have no love for Hamas.

      The only resistance you’ll get outside of Palestine will be from the Israeli spymasters who helped Hamas get up and running in the first place. And what an evil yet masterful stroke that turned out to be. Because as long as Hamas is the a significant counterparty, there will be far too many people (like myself) who admit that if they were walking in a typical Israeli’s shoes, and facing down Hamas, they’d likely act kind of the way the typical Israeli is acting, even as they also recognize that the typical Palestinian has been cruelly backed into a corner. Sure, these Israeli expect that someday they will look back with a twinge of regret on all this, kind of like those empty shout-outs American like to make when talking about the Cherokee and Navajo, but that regret-filled future is increasingly regarded by many as the best outcome that has any chance of occurring, and I can understand why.

      So if you really want to do something for the Palestinians, turn your efforts to convincing your fellow Isreal-bashers to focus their energies on getting rid of Hamas. Because even if you kept with the current strategy, and someday got to the point where you could sway American opinion against Israel, that will be the day when those same Israeli spymasters who assisted in the formation of Hamas will start the real shove, and you and the Palestinians will long for the relative peace of the last few years.

      Of course, if you’re just in this to feel better about yourself, just keep on keeping on. But forget about pretending it has anything to do with genuine Christianity. I think too many people see through you at this point.

      • Guest
      • Thaddeus J. Kozinski

        Chris Hedges is much more eloquent than I:

        • HA

          Sadly, endless invocations of “genocide” and “defenseless”, whether made by you or some Youtube link, do nothing to answer the point raised, which was about Hamas and their pivotal role in rectifying the lunacy. But again, if this is all about making yourself feel better and looking good in front of your fellow anti-Zionists, I get it.

          • Thaddeus J. Kozinski

            The blame falls squarely on Netanyahu. Hamas is his scapegoat. Israel has been scapegoating the palestinians since 1948.

            • HA

              Hamas is his scapegoat.

              And what an excellent scapegoat they are, what with the foundational ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the dancing in the streets the day after 9/11, not to mention the suicide jackets in pizza parlors and other assorted acts of terrorism (though the PLO obviously pitches in with that whenever it can).

              I’m not saying we should be giving (or loan-forgiving) a dime to Israel, much less any matching aid to Egypt (in fact, we should put an end to all of it), but as long as Fatah or Hamas is the alternative, I think the Netanyahus of the world will have job security. I don’t have to like that state of affairs in order to find it completely understandable.

              • Thaddeus J. Kozinski

                I think Israel just loves the ineffective, pathetic rocket attacks (that are in self-defense against occupation, besiegement, slow but deliberate genocide and ethnic cleansing, and apartheid), for it gives them a nice occasion to justify its absolutely unjustifiable (as the whole world now knows) scapegoating, seemingly ritualistic (note the reports of Israelis gathered on the hill barbecuing the mass slaughter of children) mass-murder campaigns.

                “Israel’s attack on Gaza is a clear move to force a split in the Palestinian unity government by pitting the more pro-peace Fatah against the more-militant Hamas. However, despite the massive toll the Palestinians have resisted the move and the unity government has survived the ordeal till date.

                Israel’s started preparing for this attack on Gaza ever since its efforts to persuade the world not to recognise the unity government failed. Tel Aviv perceives Palestinian unity as a major threat. he unity between the Fatah and Hamas that the world had been paying lip service to in the belief that it would not come about, forced even the United States to welcome it leading to considerable unease in Israel.

                This was evident in the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s almost frenetic lobbying to get Europe and other western powers not to recognise the Palestinian unity government that came to power in June as part of a huge reconciliation effort under which Hamas agreed to stay out of government, but support it fully.

                Netanyahu warned Europe against making the “mistake” of granting legitimacy to the new government. He insisted in a telephone call to the French President Francois Hollande that the unity government was “a Palestinian step against peace and in favour of terrorism.” He attacked the US, or rather his officials did, for sanctioning terrorism by welcoming the new government. The panic in Tel Aviv grew as China stepped in to support the unity government as well.

                The lobbying failed to convince the world, and there was considerable support for the Palestinians ability to come together after years of strife and discord. Settlement activity increased immediately and just ten days after the Palestinian unity government was formed, three Israeli teenage settlers went missing. Their dead bodies were found after which a 16 year old Palestinian boy Mohammed Abu Khdeir was kidnapped by alleged settlers and burnt alive. This sparked off protests in Gaza that were retaliated to strongly by Israel, leading to relentless bombing of the crowded tract of land in which nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed, many more injured, with a UN report now maintaining that at least over 80 per cent of the casualties having been civilian, with many of them children.

                Hamas, that has never hesitated in the past to claim an attack, has stoutly denied kidnapping the three Israeli settlers. It has made it clear that it had nothing to do with this abduction or the deaths. There was no enquiry by Israel, with the recovery of the bodies followed immediately by the Israeli Prime Ministers statements accusing Hamas of the crime. Isr Palestinians protested against the murder of their teenager with Israeli forces moving into Gaza to effect mass arrests. Hamas responded predictably with rockets and Israel with bombs fired at Gaza from the land, sea, and air.

                Israel started attacking the weakest link in the government Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas for being responsible for the disappearances as he was in a unity government with Hamas. Abbas, never the strongest of leaders, condemned this but even so went on to insist that there was no evidence that Hamas was responsible for the incident.

                The unity, because of the intervention of several Palestinian leaders and intellectuals, has held with all sections in West Bank and Gaza committed to saving the new government. A Palestinian human rights activist Bassam Eid is quoted by the media as saying “Within Hamas, and on both sides (Fatah and Hamas) everyone is committed to the reconciliation deal. The events make us realise that we need to be more united. Netanyahu will lose all the arguments–Palestinians are not united, there is no one to negotiate with—he has been using against us.”

                Interestingly, the world media reporting out of Tel Aviv sought to project the rejection of Egypts ceasefire proposal as if only Hamas had objected to it. The Citizen spoke to non-Hamas Palestinians to find that the rejection was unanimous, and not restricted to Hamas alone. There was complete unity amongst all Palestinians that this proposal favoured the US and Israel, and offered humiliating terms to the Palestinians without recognising their basic rights and the concept of justice.

                Omar Barghouti who is a human rights activist the founding committee member of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Campaign against Israel told The Citizen from Ramallah that, “the so called Egyptian proposal, which is clearly a US-Israeli proposal with Egyptian packaging, reflects Israel’s predicament in its current bloody aggression on the besieged and occupied Gaza strip. The proposal is largely seen by Palestinian society as a lifeline thrown to save Israel after its failure to achieve any of its declared political objectives from the assault.”

                Israel instead has lost public opinion across the world with massive demonstrations on its attack on innocent Palestinians reported from across the globe. As Barghouti said, “Israel’s current massacre in Gaza is premeditated, calculated and accurately executed to mete out severe pain on the 1.7 million Palestinians who live in that huge prison camp. That is not surprising, given Israel’s record of state terrorism.

                I agree with Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy’s assertion that Israel’s real goal in this attack is to “kill Arabs,” and to revive its military deterrence through that.”

                The US and the UK along with other western powers have sought to equate the Israeli military attack with the rockets fired by the Palestinians. This has evoked a sharp reaction from sections of the independent media and the citizens even in these countries. Barghouti further adds, “All talk about “both sides” is not just patently false and ill-conceived; it is downright immoral, as it equates the colonial and apartheid oppressor with the colonized and oppressed. To end all violence, the initial instance of violence by the oppressor and the consequent resistance of the oppressed, one must work to end oppression–the root cause of all violence. Thus the crucial need for isolating Israel through BDS measures.”

                Haidar Eid is an Associate Professor at the Al Aqsa University in Gaza and a respected voice for the Palestinians in academic circles. He was categorical in his response to this writer, that the Egyptian proposal “call for the surrender of the Palestinian resistance.” The basics that could have made the proposal acceptable to the Palestinians were ignored completely by Egypt that under the current regime is seen to be acting for the US and Israel on this issue.

                As Eid pointed out the proposal “ does not call for an end to the 8 yr long siege, nor to the implementation of international law, i.e end of occupation, colonization and apartheid; it equates Palestinian right to resistance with Israel’s aggression; it does not meet the MINIMUM that more than 190 died for; it is the most serious downfall is that it consider our internationally sanctioned right to resistance, including attacks against military targets, a “hostility”; it does not say anything about opening of the Rafah Crossing, the only exit Gaza has to the external world, and over which there is only Egyptian control.”

                Scholar and author, and a very reputed voice in the region Ilan Pappe has written in the Electronic Intifada (See Opinion in The Citizen) making it very clear that the current ‘genocide’ of the Palestinians by Israel is to break the unity pact. Pappe said, “ The present genocidal wave has, like all the previous ones, also a more immediate background. It has been born out of an attempt to foil the Palestinian decision to form a unity government that even the United States could not object to.

                The collapse of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s desperate “peace” initiative legitimized the Palestinian appeal to international organizations to stop the occupation. At the same time, Palestinians gained wide international blessing for the cautious attempt represented by the unity government to strategize once again a coordinated policy among the various Palestinian groups and agendas.”

                • HA

                  I think Israel just loves the ineffective, pathetic rocket attacks…

                  If by Israel you mean Netanyahu and Israel’s hardliners, then yes, I already implied that (which is not to say I’d put up with my family being in the target range of those rockets, however ineffective you may find them). Do you even bother to read the posts you’re replying to? And do learn to link instead of cut-pasting entire articles from your grab-bag of propaganda.

                  Finally, given the pathetic ineffectiveness of those rocket attacks, putting a stop to them should be no great loss to the Palestinians, and may in fact help them. Why don’t you see what you can do to make that happen?

                  • Thaddeus J. Kozinski

                    Yes, I mean the hardliners, especially Netanyahu. I don’t see how what I pasted is propaganda. That’s an easy excuse for an argument. The rocket attacks are symbolic, showing that there is still resistance against the Israeli intention to wipe them off the face of the map. When the resistance is gone, the Palestinians will be gone, as long as the U.S. gives Israel diplomatic cover and vetoes any attempt to stop the ethnic cleansing.

                    • HA

                      I find your defense of such rocket attacks appalling, and it makes laughable any pretensions you might have to justice or genuine Christianity.

                      Moreover, if ineffectual and “symbolic” rocket attacks (by which I do not mean to imply that you would be willing to stand in the way of one) are the best Hamas can do in providing resistance, then it is all the more reason that they need to go, and people who pretend to want to help the Palestinians need to focus on that end instead of enabling or defending such lunacy. Do you think anyone worth listening to buys the notion that rocket attacks are an indispensable or essential way of offering resistance? Seriously?

                    • Thaddeus J. Kozinski

                      Palestinians, as the great Chris Hedges, a Christian, makes clear, have a right to self defense:


                      Your constant deflecting of the blame onto Hamas and not where it most primarily belongs, Israel, shows that you are caught up, to some extent, in the Zionist-initiated scapegoating mechanism. It’s hard to imagine how anyone can watch Chris Hedges recent speech and not have the scapegoating spell broken.

                    • HA

                      It’s hard to imagine how anyone can watch Chris Hedges and not have the scapegoating spell broken.

                      Maybe you’re the one with the scapegoating spell. Consider that possibility. And again, if rocket attacks, ineffectual and “symbolic” ones at that, are what Hamas is offering as self-defense, they need to go, and you need to be focusing on making that happen. Is this what Pax-Christi wing of Catholicism has dwindled to? The grand tradition of Ghandi, MLK, is now being used to whitewash ineffectual rocket attacks as an essential form of resistance?

                      BTW, how does Hedges feel about suicide vests being worn to pizza parlors?

                    • Thaddeus J. Kozinski

                      The only thing I can think of to justify allowing one people to oppress another for 70 years is some kind of implicit or explicit doctrine of racial/ethnic/national/religious supremacy. I thought such went out of style with Nazism.

                      So you don’t defend the right of a people to defend themselves against a siege, apartheid, and occupation, that is, this?

                      “Occupation, curfew, settlements, closed military zone, administrative detention, siege, preventive strike, terrorist infrastructure, transfer. Their WAR destroys language. Speaks genocide with the words of a quiet technician.
                      Occupation means that you cannot trust the OPEN SKY, or any open street near to the gates of snipers tower. It means that you cannot trust the future or have faith that the past will always be there.

                      Occupation means you live out your live under military rule, and the constant threat of death, a quick death from a snipers bullet or a rocket attack from an M16.

                      A crushing, suffocating death, a slow bleeding death in an ambulance stopped for hours at a checkpoint. A dark death, at a torture table in an Israeli prison: just a random arbitrary death.

                      A cold calculated death: from a curable disease. A thousand small deaths while you watch your family dying around you.

                      Occupation means that every day you die, and the world watches in silence. As if your death was nothing, as if you were a stone falling in the earth, water falling over water.

                      And if you face all of this death and indifference and keep your humanity, and your love and your dignity and YOU refuse to surrender to their terror, then you know something of the courage that is Palestine.” ~ Suheir Hammad

                    • HA

                      So you don’t defend the right of a people to defend themselves against a siege, apartheid, and occupation, that is, this?

                      With suicide vests in pizza parlors and “ineffectual” rocket attacks? Absolutely not. Anyone who enables or defends that kind of lunacy and evil needs to stop spouting empty words about justice and peace.

                    • Thaddeus J. Kozinski

                      Of course, as you know, I have never defended unjust self defense, such as suicide killings of civilians and rocket attacks aimed at civilian targets. But the Palestinians, as opposed to the Israelis, do have the right to armed self defense under an occupation and siege. The occupier does not have that right. The easy solution to the bloodshed is for Israel to give up its stolen lands and its policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide, but it won’t do that due to its Zionist, racist policies. Since 1948 it has sought nothing else than a racially pure state, which requires ethnic cleansing. Those Israeli leaders who protested this, were scapegoated, persecuted, or assassinated, witness, Yitzhak Rabin. The U.S. supports this policy, and is therefore supporting Jewish supremacy, a.k.a., Zionism. No Catholic can support this. One cannot be Catholic and Zionist, just as much as one cannot be both Catholic and Muslim.

                    • HA

                      You yourself called the Hamas rockets symbolic and ineffective. One of Augustine’s criteria for a just war is a realistic chance of
                      success. He made no provisions for “symbolic” acts of savagery whose only purpose is to provoke the very “effective” rocket blasts that produce the kind of bodies ideal for PR campaigns like yours (which suits Hamas just fine). As such, those rockets are not legitimate self-defense, and if you cared as much for Christianity as you do for Marxist theorizing about revolutions, you would see that.

                      Such tactics serve only to mire the Palestinians into the same hole that Marxists (i.e. PLO) and Islamists (i.e. Hamas) have dug them into, enabled at each step of the way by peace-and-justice types like yourself. It is through a combination of this 3-way bungling that the Palestinians have chosen to forego every one of the alternatives that Israel has offered them, which despite being deeply unjust, are still much better than the reservations that they are about to be ethnically cleansed onto (and those, in turn, are much better than the status quo of a continuing Hamas leadership).

                      Instead of promoting genuine nonviolence (perhaps because you realize that it is in numerous ways incompatible with an Islamic culture) and denouncing Hamas with every ounce of strength, you are enabling and whitewashing them. You speak of peace and justice for the Palestinians. You are a fraud and a co-conspirator in their demise.

                    • Thaddeus J. Kozinski

                      There are quite a bit of non-violent protest movements in Gaza and the West Bank, but no one’s listening due to Zionist control of discourse and U.S. veto power. Again, and now I am signing off, anyone under siege or illegal occupation has a right to armed defense, still under the rules of lawful engagement, such as the proscription against deliberately targeting civilians.

                    • HA

                      …no one’s listening due to Zionist control of discourse…

                      Yeah, and the sound of Hamas rockets, however ineffectual and symbolic, can drown out the sound of a whole lot of non-violence.

                      As long as Hamas stays in the picture, as long as you spend your efforts on enabling their activities, your non-violent movements will keep on being ignored and Palestinians will continue to suffer.

                    • Thaddeus J. Kozinski

                      Hezbollah were able to give the Israelis a humiliating defeat. Would that Hamas could do the same, without killing innocent Israeli civilians.

                    • HA

                      And yet, here we are, with the Palestinians no better off, but you’re still defending rocket attacks (to the extent that you wish they were more effectual) as the way forward. Do you intend anyone here not already under the thrall of anti-Zionism to be impressed with your notions of peace and justice?

                    • Thaddeus J. Kozinski

                      Signing off now. The suicide vests, which of course I condemn, is irrelevant to what is happening now, which is cold-blooded war crimes/mass murder against civilians by Netanyahu and the IDF. They are not “defending themselves.” That is a lie. Signing off.

                    • HA

                      From the relative of comfort of your computer chair, you do not have much say in how irrelevant suicide vests are or how “symbolic” a rocket is. If it fires and explodes, if it diverts millions of funds that could be used to help cash-strapped constituents, if it elicits the counter-attacks you are bewailing, if it is one more obstacle to choosing the path of nonviolence, then it is more than symbolic.

                      Getting Hamas out of the picture and urging the Palestinians to find less violent ways to resist is what you and your peace-and-justice crowd should be doing, not enabling jihadis.

                    • Thaddeus J. Kozinski

                      Whatever the moral status of Hamas’ actions in its lawful right to resist besiegement, occupation, the kidnapping and murder of its population (which happens on a daily basis), etc., on behalf of the citizens that elected it, in this latest conflict, Israel is the obvious main aggressor, enacting a false-flag murder of its own three teenage citizens to create the pretext as being the victim (as the evidence suggests), to be able to commit manifest war crimes and deliberate mass murder of women and children as part of the continuing plan of ethnic cleansing and genocide that began in 1948 with the nakba.

                      No one’s buying the “we are defending ourselves” canard, except committed and/or brainwashed Zionists to whom facts must be warped to fit a rigid narrative of paranoia and ethnic supremacy. The world is waking up to this–too bad right-leaning Catholics seem to be still asleep.

                      The greatest anti-semites are Zionists, who give the vast majority of good Jews in the world a bad name, and who, based upon their own words and actions, look at Arab Semites as subhuman, and as we see in Gaza, treat them that way, with barbecues on hilltops celebrating the unspeakable carnage.

  • Howard

    “Though, thanks be to God, in the West we are not faced with the immediate danger of this sort of threat….” I suspect it is because we have been found not worthy to suffer for the Name of Jesus (Acts 5:41).