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AND Campaign Leader Slams Use of ‘Bothsidesism’ to Bully Christians Into Simplistic View of Israel-Hamas War

Justin Giboney, president of the AND Campaign, has warned Christians against taking a simplistic view of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. Giboney asserted that attempts at using “bothsidesism,” a false balance, to discourage sympathy for Palestinian civilians are “sinful.”

“We want to make sure that we’re being as faithful, intellectually honest, and constructive as possible because it’s a very serious situation, and we need to address it as such,” Giboney said in a video uploaded October 13 to the AND Campaign’s YouTube channel.

Giboney also chastised those in “some Christian circles” for being belligerent, sharing fake news, and using bad theology in how they have publicly addressed the ongoing Mideast war.

He also called out some behavior as outright “sinful.”

“I see a lot of people using the idea of bothsidesism to keep people from having a full analysis, to force people into basically saying, ‘This side is completely good and that side is completely evil.’ And I think that’s wrong,” Giboney said. “I hear people using the idea of bothsidesism to keep people from having any compassion for Palestinians. That, to me, is sinful.”

Giboney, also an attorney and ordained minister, went on to give his own view of the raging conflict that has resulted in thousands of deaths.

“Hamas is dead wrong. What Hamas has done is not justified. The way they have killed Israeli civilians is completely wrong,” he said in part.

Yet, Hamas’ terrorism “doesn’t justify any and everything that Israel might do to the Palestinian people,” he added.

Giboney concluded his five-minute remarks by restating that the Mideast conflict is too complicated to be broken down as simply “good versus evil” and promised to dive deeper into the issue in a future “Church Politics” podcast episode. A full transcript of his remarks appears at the bottom of this article.

According to The Associated Press, ​​Palestinians fled en-masse on October 13 from northern Gaza after the Israeli military ordered them to head toward the south. The announcement came ahead of an anticipated “ground invasion in retaliation for the surprise attack by the ruling Hamas militant group nearly a week ago.” More than 2 million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, according to CBS News. The World Health Organization states that children under 18 account for nearly half of the strip’s population.

The AND Campaign, based in Atlanta, Georgia, is a Christian civic education and advocacy organization. It was co-founded by Giboney, pastor Angel Maldonado, and recording artist Amisho Baraka in 2016. Giboney, Michael Wear, and Chris Butler co-authored a book based on the organization’s focus on compassion and conviction.

Editor’s note: This article was updated to correct the number of Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip.


Transcript of Giboney’s Remarks

It’s time for another AND Campaign civic update. And I know many of you have been asking us to speak into this Israel-Palestine conversation and we fully intend to do so.

But for those of you who have been following us for a while, you know what that is, it is our general mode of operation, not to enter into the fray too soon, not to come at you with hot takes and knee-jerk reactions that may be very irresponsible. We want to make sure that we’re being as faithful, intellectually honest, and constructive as possible because it’s a very serious situation, and we need to address it as such.

And to be frank with you, there’s several folks that I think need to consider that same practice. Because what I’m seeing from some Christian circles is belligerence, fake news, temper tantrums, bad theology, sneak-dissing, and really just a lack of sobriety altogether. And, again, I think that’s irresponsible. Because this is a very serious situation that needs to be thought all the way through, and not just simplified in a way that I think doesn’t do the history and prologue of this conversation any justice. So that’s something we need to keep in mind.

I see a lot of people using the idea of bothsidesism to keep people from having a full analysis, to force people into basically saying, ‘This side is completely good and that side is completely evil.’ And I think that’s wrong. I hear people using the idea of bothsidesism to keep people from having any compassion for Palestinians. That, to me, is sinful.

It makes sense to apply just war theory to this conversation. I just would ask that as we apply it, let’s make sure that we’re not starting at a point in history that just serves our narrative. That as we analyze it through just war theory that we’re not starting at a point that’s somewhat arbitrary, to serve our interest or the story that we want to get out there. So that’s something to consider as well.

But let me get to my analysis, which is this: Hamas is dead wrong. What Hamas has done is not justified. The way they have killed Israeli civilians is completely wrong. The fact that they have gone about this in a terroristic way is wrong. And I don’t think we should try to justify that or use other things to make it seem like it’s not so bad. It is that and it is wrong.

The Israeli people should not be treated in this way. And if Hamas has things that they think need to be addressed, if there’s problems that they think…that they think they’re being treated unjustly, then they need to square up and address that in the right way. But not address it as terrorists and also not use their own people as human shields. Not put the Palestinians from a bad situation into an even worse situation because of how they’re dealing with certain things. So I think on a number of areas Hamas is wrong and not justified, period.

Now, that does not mean, as I said earlier, that the analysis has to end there. And my analysis won’t end there.

Just because Hamas is dead-wrong, doesn’t justify any and everything that Israel might do to the Palestinian people. And you have some people being very belligerent and saying that because Hamas is wrong, let’s just completely destroy everybody in Palestine, let’s completely bomb Iran, and all this other stuff. And that’s a very irresponsible analysis.

To even have a president go up and say that babies were getting their heads chopped off, which is not verified, is wrong. It’s wrong. So my analysis is to say that, yes, Hamas is wrong. That doesn’t just in the story and justify everything that might happen to the Palestinian people.

That doesn’t justify the list of human rights violations that Israel is accused of. And that’s not Justin Giboney accusing them of human rights violations, that’s coming from an international organization. And some of those accusations are hard to deny. People do not have to overlook that in their analysis. Do I think it justifies what a master is doing? No. But people don’t have to overlook that. People don’t have to overlook and not have any sympathy for how Palestinians are being treated, how many of them might be killed, how they’ve been treated before this. People don’t have to overlook that. Just because you want to simplify it as much as possible and make this a very simple good people versus bad people dynamic. Not everybody sees it that way.

And so this is not about both sides being equivalent. It’s not trying to say that what Hamas did is justified, because it’s not. But to simplify this very complicated matter in a way that says ‘they’re good, they’re evil, who cares what happens to the other side’ is wrong. It is not that simple, and people don’t have to treat it that way.

We’ll get a deeper analysis on that next episode of the “Church Politics” podcast, but I wanted to make sure that we address this, again, in a way that we thought was sober and responsible. See you soon.

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Nicola A. Menzie
Nicola A. Menziehttp://www.nicolamenzieonline.com
Nicola A. Menzie a religion reporter whose bylines have appeared on the websites of the Religion News Service, The Christian Post, CBS News and Vibe magazine. Nicola is the Managing Editor at faithfullymagazine.com. You can find her on Twitter @namenzie. Email: nicola.menzie (at) faithfullymagazine.com.

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