Gaza is the Moral Compass of the World

My open air preach today in Guildhall Square, Southampton at the PSC Southampton vigil for Gaza.

“If Jesus was born today, he would be born under the rubble of Gaza” My colleague, Revd Munther Isaac, is pastor of the Lutheran Church in Bethlehem. His sermon last Christmas “Christ Under the Rubble” went viral as did images of the Nativity scene in his Church – of a crib with baby Jesus placed amid a pile of rubble. Today there are 17,500 pregnant mothers fleeing Rafah alone. Christ is indeed under the rubble of Gaza. In Munther’s sermon, he strongly criticised Western political, but especially religious leaders, for their silence in the face of clear and indisputable evidence of genocide in Gaza. Silence is complicity. 

Munther went on to say “Gaza is the moral compass of the world”. Lets think about that.

What is a compass? A compass always points to north. It is useful on a journey because it tells you which direction you are headed. You probably have one on your smart phone or in your car Sat Nav. Losing your way can be very inconvenient – like the man who got lost just after the M25 was opened, who missed his junction and went all the way round before he finally escaped. But losing your way can be much worse. It can cost you your life. If you are caught in a storm at sea, or in a blizzard on a mountainside, or flying in heavy cloud, losing your way is a matter of life and death. We need a compass.

How does a compass work? A magnetized needle under the effect of Earth’s magnetic field, always points toward the north magnetic pole. But can anything interfere with a compass? Yes – a strong magnet will disturb a compass from pointing north.

What then is a moral compass? We all have one. Its called our conscience. When we have a moral or ethical decision – do we tell the truth or tell a lie, our conscience makes us feel guilty if we lie and gives us peace if we tell the truth. You don’t need to be religious to know right from wrong. But it helps because the Scriptures reveal how God’s expects us to treat one another. “Do to others what you would have them do to you” is a universal principle.

Can anything interfere with our moral compass? Yes. Money, sex and power are the three most powerful. That and loyalty – loyalty to our religion, to our country, to our family. These can influence our moral compass. And if there is any doubt as to right and wrong, we have things like the Highway Code, the Countryside code, County Courts, the High Court, the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the European Court of Human Rights, the ICC and the ICJ to help determine right from wrong. These shape or moral compass.

We are now nearly 8 months into the genocide of Gaza and what are our religious and political leaders doing about it? Where is their moral compass? What is stopping them from doing the right thing? 

Why would our Prime Minister say that the South African genocide case endangers peace? Why would our Prime Minister refuse to ban weapon sales to Israel? Why would Keir Starmer remove the whip from MP’s lobbying for Palestinian rights? Why will the Archbishop refuse to acknowledge that Israeli apartheid? How is Gaza is the moral compass of the world? Because how we respond to Gaza indicates how we would respond to other ethical and moral choices. 

The fact that our government (and it seems the opposition) will not support the investigation of the ICJ into claims of genocide, or the investigation of the ICC into war crimes committed in Gaza is very worrying – because it affects not only the people of Gaza but every British citizen too.

If our government will not uphold the rule of international law impartially in Gaza, how can they appeal to international law to protect UK citizens who may be wrongly arrested in any another country? Our political and religious leaders are putting our lives at risk by not acknowledging the rule of international law in Gaza.  

So my question to our Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is, where is your moral compass? To the leader of the opposition, Keir Starmer, where is your moral compass? Archbishop Justin Welby, where is your moral compass? Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, where is your moral compass? Candidates, standing for election next month, where is your moral compass?

Gaza is indeed the moral compass of the world.