Today was to be the first day in a three-day “humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza, allowing aid to be delivered to those caught in the conflict, bodies to be removed, and, it was hoped, delegates from Israel and Hamas to meet in Cairo to discuss terms for a longer ceasefire. Some officials hoped that this ceasefire might lead to a more lasting hiatus in the three and a half week-long conflict.
Only hours after the cease-fire was announced, it was broken, and already dozens have died from escalated fighting, with hundreds more injured. Perhaps those who hoped that this ceasefire might lead to something bigger didn’t recall that this was to be the fourth cease-fire since fighting began a few weeks ago, and that each of those ceasefires ended within hours. Perhaps they didn’t realize that even the longer periods without fighting over the past years have been nothing but ceasefires. It should be apparent to those closest to this conflict that a ceasefire is not a sustainable solution.
The problem is, calling for only a ceasefire suggests that more violence is inevitable. Saying, “Let’s stop fighting for three days,” places more emphasis on the “three days” than on the “stop fighting”. Anytime we allow violence to seem inevitable, we create a self-fulfilling prophesy that violence will return. It’s as if, by so weakly condemning violence, we actually condone it.
Well, we as Dunker Punks don’t believe in weakly condemning violence. We echo our Dunker Punk ancestors from Annual Conference in 1930 who stood up and resolved, “All War is Sin.” We say, enough with ceasefires that condone more fighting after a period of silence. We say, enough.
We call for nothing less than peace. The second problem with a ceasefire is that people often mistake it for peace. The difference is, in a ceasefire, both sides do little – if not nothing – as they prepare for the fighting to resume. Whether the ceasefire is to last three days, three decades, or indefinitely, there is always the promise of more violence to come. So neither side can focus on anything but making sure that they are ready for the violence to return.
A ceasefire, then, becomes a time of doing nothing to resolve the conflict, rather than being proactive in resolving the conflict diplomatically. Who can meet cordially with their enemy and get something meaningful done, while still making preparations to attack that same enemy? Who can love their enemy, while still fortifying their hatred for that enemy? No wonder so many ceasefires are ended prematurely.
A ceasefire is a passive period where both sides sit in anticipation of more violence. Israeli officials claim that they were willing to honor the ceasefire, but that Hamas attacked first and forced them to retaliate. Maybe it’s true that Hamas attacked first. But the devastation that Israel has unloaded upon Palestinian civilians over the past few hours shows that, to them, a cease-fire is nothing more than an opportunity to prepare for more fighting.
Peace is different. Anyone who thinks that peace is passive hasn’t tried it. Peace is an active decision to love your enemy, to turn away from violence, and embrace other means of handling conflict. Peace isn’t easy. But only though peace can we hope to accomplish anything meaningful.
Dunker Punks call for peace. Pray for peace. Mobilize to create peace. Dunker punks, follow the example set by Jesus, and be leaders in demanding and building peace.
Share your thoughts. What can we do to better pursue peace? How can the Dunker Punk community be leaders in accomplishing peace?