Not “Or,” But “And”

by Seneca Moraleda-Puguan

It was just like yesterday when the world was confronted by a major conflict between two nations. We were all shocked when Russia invaded Ukraine. Little did we know, just a few years later, another battle would shake the world–Palestine vs Israel.

In October, on one ordinary day for the rest of the world but a special and supposedly joyous holiday for Israel, the Palestinian group Hamas breached one of the most secure defense systems in the world and attacked many Jewish people via sea, land, and air.

Thousands of Israeli soldiers and civilians, locals and internationals, lost their lives. Hundreds were and are still being held captive. Among the dead were four Filipinos. Israel is a nation that is not just familiar, but special to my heart because it’s something I read about in the Bible. When the news broke out, I found my heart severely broken and my eyes rolling with tears as I heard news of innocent lives being taken away.

It felt like the pain I felt during the Ukraine invasion of Russia rushed over me again. I tried to understand the root cause of the conflict between the two nations and realized that it’s not just a long-running conflict but an overly complex one. For the past few weeks, Israel has been retaliating for the massive Hamas attack and the people of Gaza are under siege. As the war rages on, I see some of my friends side with Israel while some stand with Palestine.

My heart goes out to the families of Israel who lost their lives and are still being held hostage by the terrorist group. My heart breaks equally for the innocent people of Gaza, especially the women, children, and elderly, receiving the brunt of Israel’s retribution. In the words of the British statesman Neville Chamberlain, “In war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers.”With the Russia-Ukraine invasion and the Palestine-Israel attack, all are losers indeed. And the collateral damage of these senseless battles cannot even be described.

I can only imagine the terror that the innocent people of Gaza are facing and experiencing right now.

As a mother, I can only pray and cry with Israeli and Palestinian mothers who wish to seek comfort, peace, and refuge for their families especially, their children.

While this event may be polarizing, I hope that we side with justice. While both sides have their own agenda, may our agenda be peace. While each side has its justified reasons- desperation or retaliation, may our reason be reconciliation.

I pray for Israel. I pray for Palestine. I pray for anger to subside and for peace to reign. I pray for indignation and selfish motives to dissipate and let compassion and love spread. Every night, before we go to sleep, we lead our children to remember and pray for the people of Israel and Palestine. We remind them that both nations are loved by God and worth praying for. As we all confront this heartbreaking event that affects the whole world, may we choose to consider all sides and intercede for both nations.

Israel or Palestine? It’s not a question of OR but an answer of AND.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
– Matthew 5:9

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