Our Lutheran hospital in Palestine, Augusta Victoria Hospital, is in bad shape (see ELCA press release here). A tax dispute with Israel began the crisis, but the hospital’s situation has significantly worsened since the election of a Hamas-led government to the Palestinian parliament. Augusta Victoria Hospital receives most of its funding via the Palestinian Authority (as do most social programs in the Palestinian territories), but the PA’s funding comes primarily from Europe and the United States, who are now withholding financial support of the PA. By witholding money from the PA, the US and Europe are cripling a hospital that serves ordinary, suffering Palestinians.
There are legitimate and real concerns about a Hamas-led government in the PA, but this kind of story demonstrates that sanctions, boycotts and other "diplomatic" measures hurt ordinary and poor people much more than they hurt the leaders (how’s that embargo against Castro’s Cuba doing these days?). In fact, misery on the street in oppressed areas often leads to increased radicalism – that’s the last thing we need to be fostering in the Middle East.
I hope and pray that everyone involved – the US, Israel, the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, the Lutheran church, and medical advocates around the world – will work to keep this hospital open to serve the sick and needy of Palestine.