Groups such as Mennonite Action are demanding a cease-fire in Gaza, and rightly so. But Mennonites can do better than simply fall in line with other peace groups. Only calling for a cease-fire makes the solution something that only requires action by the Israeli government. Removing responsibility from others plants a seed that can sprout into antisemitism.
Why do we not hear an outcry for the Egyptian government to open the Gaza border crossing? Why doesn’t our message include a call for Hamas to surrender, or at least to stop hiding beneath hospitals, schools and other supposedly safe spaces? Why is there no demand for Hamas to release the Israeli hostages? Why isn’t there a demand that neighboring countries allow Palestinians to become citizens instead of maintaining refugee status generations after displacement?
When we make Israel the sole arbiter able to end the violence in Gaza, we create conditions that can lead to unconscious bias, which can lead to antisemitism. Likewise, we can develop unconscious bias toward Muslims, Arabs and other groups if we only view them through one lens.
As a Christian who strongly believes in our Mennonite peace theology, I affirm those confronting the powers that be and asking for a cease-fire, but we need to add to our list of demands: an open border crossing into Egypt and for Hamas to release the hostages. This is a complex situation that involves many actors with parts to play in bringing peace.
Daniel Grimes, Goshen, Ind.