The LDS Church has just sent aid to Palestine (gasp). They sent $21,000 worth of hygeine kits (soap, shampoo and toothpaste) and blankets, and everyone who is anyone in the Church is refusing to comment on the donation.
The donation by Latter-day Saint Charities was clearly a sensitive one, acknowledged in a single- sentence statement by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Thursday.
“In response to the America Near East Refugee organization (ANERA), the Church made a modest donation of hygiene kits and blankets that will be distributed in Gaza,” the statement said. Spokesman Scott Trotter declined to elaborate.
I am glad to find out in this report that the Church has been donating through ANERA since 2002 to the poor in the middle-east. Surely some will appreciate a bar of soap, toothpaste, shampoo and a blanket, and… I don’t mean to be a hard-head here, but can’t we do better than that?
Daniel Peterson, professor of Islamic studies and Arabic in the Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages at BYU, said he suspects the church is not making a political statement but simply trying to alleviate human suffering.
“We just know there are people getting hurt there badly,” Peterson said.
But the LDS Church’s aid to Palestinians also reflects, in part, a shift in thinking about Israel among Mormons in recent decades, he said.
“Years ago, we hardly knew anybody in the Middle East,” he said. That has changed, now, after generations of students have studied in Jerusalem and become friends with Palestinians as well as Israelis.
“When you actually see the human cost of it [the fighting] and see that there are other people being hurt by this, it becomes more blurry,” Peterson said. “It’s so much harder to demonize people when you have friends on both sides.”
It is good for the Church then that we have BYU Jerusalem as this opens up some LDS members eyes to the plight of the palestinians.
Almost from the beginning of the church, Mormons have understood themselves as constituting latter-day Israel, relying on both biblical and Mormon scriptures, according to a 1999 article in the 1ournal of Mormon History by BYU historian Arnold Green.
There have been two strains to Mormon thought, both expressed by church founder Joseph Smith, who dispatched Orson Hyde to the Mount of Olives, where in 1841 he offered a prophetic prayer of dedication for the return of the children of Abraham.
One strain held that Mormons were the literal descendants of Israelites, but the other, which is now more widely held — and closer to mainstream Christian thought — is that all who accept the gospel constitute Israel.
When Israel was created in 1948, Mormon apostles saw it as a significant religious event, Green wrote.
Peterson said he still believes that Israel is, in some way, the beginning of the gathering of Jews to Palestine. “But that doesn’t mean I have to approve every action of the Israeli government,” he said.
“It may be divinely planted, but it’s still human and flawed.”
Interesting words from a member of the faculty of BYU. The LDS church membership in general still has light-years to go in regards to holding an accurate understanding of middle-eastern politics.
Just a side note here. Apparently certain IDF soldiers were dining on chips while executing little children in front of their parents according to recent reports:
Additionally, parents were executed in front of their children:
One nine-year-old boy said his father had been shot dead in front of him despite surrendering to Israeli soldiers with his hands in the air.
Another youngster described witnessing the deaths of his mother, three brothers and uncle after the house they were in was shelled.
He said his mother and one of his siblings had been killed instantly, while the others bled to death over a period of days.
A psychiatrist treating children in the village of Zeitoun on the outskirts of Gaza City, where the alleged incidents took place, described the deaths as a “massacre”.
Rawya Borno, a Jordanian doctor, said civilians, including children, were rounded up and killed by Israeli troops.
Israel has denied the claims, dismissing them as Hamas propaganda, but said that an investigation is being conducted into soldiers’ conduct in the area.
In interviews with ITV News, Palestinians claimed that Israeli forces knowingly killed civilians in Zeitoun on the morning of Jan 14.
Abdullah Samouni, nine, described the moment his father was allegedly “executed” by Israeli soldiers.
Holding his arms in the air, he said: “He was surrendering like this. My father came out and they shot him right away.”
A boy named Ahmed said he was trapped for days in the wreckage of the shelled Samouni family’s house.
He said: “My mother was dead beside me, she was clutching my brother Nasser and they were dead. My brother Itzaq was bleeding for two days and then he died. My brother Izmael bled to death in one day. My uncle Talal was bleeding for two hours and he died. God bless them.”
Dr Borno said: “It’s a massacre. They collected them from their houses. They knew that they were civilians. They were children.”
Of course IDF spokespersons say that Israel doesn’t target civilians. Just like the USA doesn’t torture people. The problem is that when you turn loose ideologically brainwashed right-wing nutjobs on a population in a situation of personal peril, you are going to kill innocent people all over the place. All wars should be avoided at all cost just because of this simple fact.