A statement from Emilie M. Townes, dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School, regarding the recent events in Gaza.
I was shocked into speechlessness and a growing sense of horror, sorrow, and mourning when I opened up my Facebook feed on Monday morning. As the death toll and injury count of Palestinian protestors rose throughout the day, I realized once again that land, freedom, protest, sovereignty, and violence joined to create the deadly imbalance of heavily armed soldiers firing on mostly unarmed demonstrators who were trying to breach the fence.
There are no simple solutions in the Middle East where the re-formation of Israel and the loss of Palestinians’ homes sit side-by-side. But the death of unarmed protestors, now numbering 60 by some accounts and the injuring of thousands more is not a solution, it is a tragedy. Each side has contributed to the violence, each side blames the other for it. The move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem has only exacerbated the situation and the notion of peace is left wanting. The sad reality is that the parties—Hamas, the Israeli government, and now the U.S.—are resorting to deadly force and retaliation rather than negotiation and listening. The Palestinian Authority looks reactive and ineffectual. And families and friends are left to mourn their dead and there is no peace.