I read with sadness “Anabaptists react to war in Israel, Gaza,” summarizing Anabaptist responses to the events of Oct. 7 [see page 26; an earlier version was published online — Editor]. Nowhere in these statements was there evidence of an explicit, unconditional condemnation of the actions of Hamas. Nowhere was there recognition that Hamas intended to brutally kill as many Jews as possible. As I went to synagogue, I heard from rabbis and others that this was not just an attack on Israel. It was a deliberate plan to kill Jews, evoking the fears rooted in the experience of Jews in the 20th century. Some of these rabbis had been associated with groups working at developing Israeli-Palestinian relationships. I failed to see anywhere in these statements something I could send to Jewish brothers and sisters indicating that Mennonites understand their pain and are aware of their vulnerability, heightened by the acceleration of global antisemitism. These statements would not receive a favorable response among the Jewish representatives who gathered at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary a few months ago (“AMBS symposium unites Jews and Mennonites to counter antisemitism,” June 16).
John Kampen, Cincinnati
If someone read “Anabaptists react to war in Israel, Gaza” without knowing what happened on Oct. 7, they would imagine both parties were equally at fault. The quotes, pictures and leftist verbiage clearly show that you view Israel as the bad guy and Hamas as just reacting to oppression. The quote from Mennonite World Conference President Henk Stenvers claims that “we refuse to take sides with political interests,” but the bulk of the article states mostly negative remarks about the Israeli military while presenting Hamas as having valid reasons for terrorism. You describe a Community Peacemaker Teams statement as “categorizing Hamas’ efforts as unprecedented resistance resulting from continuous human rights abuses.” Hamas is a terror organization equivalent to ISIS. It was as if demons had been let loose on Israeli soil.
Israel does not consider Palestinians its enemy; Hamas is the enemy. Hamas does not care for its own people but hides behind them. Israel is not trying to kill Palestinians but to get rid of Hamas agents — terrorists responsible for multiple suicide bombings through the years.
I fear the Anabaptist rhetoric may lead to more antisemitism, which is demonic. I have read the promises made to Israel in Scripture. Jesus loves the Israelis and the Palestinians. God does not give leeway for terrorists to take revenge but allows countries to enact self-defense.
Nancy Schaffer, Fairless Hills, Pa.
The article ends with a quote from Community Peacemaker Teams invoking the specters of apartheid and ethnic cleansing by Israel. I’m sure CPT knows far more about the conditions imposed on Palestinians by Israel than I do, but this seems like a biased and extreme view for a group that purports to be working for peace. In any case, what Israelis and Palestinians need is the gospel of Jesus. Human peacemaking, material aid and diplomacy are stopgap measures. Peace in the Middle East will come only from knowing Jesus.
Ed Wiens, Vancouver, B.C.
Revenge and retaliation are not Christlike, nor do they work. Israel has tried retaliation, and it has not worked. What would happen if Israel said Gaza is free; its people will have food and water, no checkpoints, no more settlements; Palestinians can participate freely in society. This is possible. Risky, yes. Would there be more violence, or less? I would surmise less; I can safely say there wouldn’t be more. I hope the United States will turn away from supporting violence and oppression and toward action for peace.
Elvin Siebert, Omaha, Neb.
Darrel Miller is moderator of Illinois Mennonite Conference. He was incorrectly identified as conference minister in “Subtractions add up” (Oct. 13).
The report of a survey of 1967 Tabor College alumni is online at taos67.net. The web address was incorrect in “Still following Jesus” (Oct. 13).