Skip to site content

Partisanship, Prayers for Peace Offer Contrasting Responses to Gaza Conflict

Partisan politics is manifested everywhere—even the Israel-Palestine conflict.
“The partisan gap in Mideast sympathies has never been wider,” Pew Research said of a recent survey regarding views on Israel and Palestine.

U.S. supporters of Israel numbered 51 percent overall, while 14 percent sympathized with Palestinians, 13 percent with neither side, and 3 percent expressed mixed emotions, sympathizing with both sides.

Political affiliation played a significant role in the responses.

Among Republicans, 77 percent of conservatives favored Israel compared to 64 percent of moderates and liberals in the party.

By contrast, 48 percent of conservative to moderate Democrats supported Israel, while 39 percent of liberals did so.

Religious affiliation also influenced responses. Overall, Protestants (60 percent) sympathized with Israel, compared to 46 percent of Catholics and 36 percent of the religiously unaffiliated.

The divide revealed in the survey is evident on Twitter via competing campaigns— #IsraelUnderAttack and #IsraelUnderFire, contrasted by #PalestineUnderAttack and #GazaUnderAttack.

Global Christians have responded by offering a mixture of commentary and prayers.

Tony Peck, general secretary of the European Baptist Federation, tweeted, “Pray for peace in Gaza. We have a Baptist church and school there which engages in humanitarian help, regardless of religion.”

Raimundo Barreto, director of the Division of Freedom and Justice at the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), tweeted an article titled, “Israel’s incremental genocide in the Gaza ghetto.”

Sami Awad, founder and executive director of the Holy Land Trust, tweeted, “What we see isn’t a circle of violence (claims to resistance or security) but an uncontrolled spiral of absolute hatred on all sides.”

Awad later added: “Instead of thinking how to destroy the other & justify it, we ALL need to think how to destroy what’s within us that creates the animosity.”

During the BWA 2014 gathering in Izmir, Turkey, Azar Ajaj, president of Nazareth Evangelical Theology Seminary, spoke to EthicsDaily.com contributing editor Brian Kaylor about the evangelical church’s role in promoting peace in Israel.

“As Baptists, we encourage the peaceful ways to solve these problems. I don’t understand what we can solve with war that we cannot solve with peace,” Ajaj stated, asking viewers to pray for Israeli and Palestinian leaders to seek “the ways of peace and not the ways of war.”

“Everyone in Gaza considers themselves a target,” Issa Tarazi, executive director of Near East Council of Churches, told Catholic News Service (CNS). “It is a vicious circle, one starts shooting and the other replies and the losers are the civilians.”

David Neuhaus of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem told CNS, “What we are seeing is a cycle of violence signaling that especially the Israeli and Palestinian leadership are not willing to live together, despite the fact that when you ask most people here they are willing to do so.”

Christians around the world joined together on Twitter to encourage Christians to #pauseforpeace during the World Cup and to be #hungryforpeace by fasting and praying on July 15.

Lynne Hybels, founder of Ten for Congo, tweeted: “I fast & pray 2day w Israeli & Palestinian friends committed 2 reconciliation & peaceful coexistence.”

In a July 15 editorial, Robert Parham, executive editor at EthicsDaily.com, lauded these efforts, commenting that Christian leaders “remind us through tweets, statements and prayers of a better way—and keep us from being changed by the way that promises more conflict, refugees and hardships.”

With the failure of a recent cease-fire agreement brokered by Egypt, global Christians likely will have ample opportunities to pause and pray for peace.