How many Palestinian eyes for an Israeli eye: 27 for 1? 32,000-plus for 1,200? How many?

I am not a religious expert, but I wonder about the reference in the Bible’s Old Testament Book of Leviticus 24:19-21 to, “Just as another person has received from him, so it will be given to him … an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.” Descendants of another son of Abraham, in the Islamic tradition, continue reference to life for life, eye for eye, but add an alternative that “if anyone remits the retaliation by way of charity, it is an act of atonement for himself.”

The Old Testament statement for Hebrews was reportedly updated in the New Testament with Christ’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount to lovingly solve problems with neighbors and enemies, turning the other cheek when struck, rather than retaliate. Especially in this season’s celebration of Christ’s nonviolent, sacrificial response to temptation to lead an army against his accusers, might this challenge Christians in the United States to discern a third side to resolving conflict in Gaza and Israel?

Otherwise, we risk Tommy Sands’ prediction of “another eye for another eye, till everyone is blind” in his song of tragedy in the Catholic-Protestant conflict in Northern Ireland.

Mark Rains

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