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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Christian view of the Palestinian Israeli conflict


I'm not quite finished with this one yet, but I feel like I already have a few points to make. 

It is a different perspective than I've been used to reading. Since I'm not a Muslim, I had focused on the Muslim perspective, trying to understand and get some background because experience and my gut were telling me there was more to the story than some would have you believe. You always hear people talking about Muslims oppressing the Christians in the Arab world, Arabs only understand violence, Islam causes terrorism, etc. At some point, even if you trust the source, you've got to find out if this is really true somehow. At least that's what I am compelled to do whether its a stereotype, an email, whatever.

When I started reading, I immediately felt a connection to the author. Her views were very, very familiar. They are very much my own. Not many of the facts are new; I've read quite a bit on this subject. The firm belief in the right of Palestinians to go back home if they want, to be compensated, to form a nation and actually share the land and resources with Israel minus the disclaimer that Israel has the right to exist and defend itself are in fact my own as well. I mean, why should we protect Israel's "right" to defend itself against the consequences of stealing, killing and oppressing hundreds of thousands of people?? 

The adherence to nonviolence is impressive and the understanding of it was insightful. She explains that it's not a passive position in which you let people walk all over you, but where you stand up for truth and justice in a way that you respect the human rights and life of everyone. It reminded me of discussions of meekness and submission in Bible studies. Jesus was meek and submitted to God; we are supposed to be meek and submissive - but this doesn't mean we are weak, scared and letting people trample the truth. On the contrary, true submission is a choice ("power under control" as I once heard it described), not something forced on you as we normally think of psychologically "breaking" a prisoner or animal.

She relates her experiences as a Palestinian Christian under Israeli occupation, which could be pretty eye-opening for some people unfamiliar with the conflict. She sees Israel as the major problem and hurdle and feels brotherhood with Muslims in this struggle in the same way Americans of different faiths come together on matters of national interests and security. She also confronts the issue of the beliefs of the American Christian fundamentalist right who ignore Palestinian Christians rights and safety in their blind support for Jews' Biblical right to live there. (Do they just not know about Palestinian Christians or do Christian Zionists knowingly reject fellow Christians' right to worship and live in peace in favor of the Jewish desire for control?)
I did take issue with at least one thing. She is one who doesn't appear to believe in a literal reading of the Old Testament. She believes all the mass killings the Israelites were commanded to do against entire nations is against God's character. I don't see how one can be a Christian and have this view. Apart from the Bible, how is one to know God? She seems to be indirectly claiming to know God apart from the Bible and that is a dangerous claim. One we can absolutely reject as false. The inspired writers of the New Testament explain this to those willing to hear. Hebrews, obviously, is a good choice- the Jews are having the old law explained- how the blood of bulls and goats isn't sufficient, elements of the old were types and shadows of the new, if the old had been perfect there wouldn't be a need for the new, and how the death of the testator put the new in force. Hebrews isn't the only place; the New Testament is filled with explanation of the Old. The Old is nailed to the cross (Col 2:13-15), the Old was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (Gal 3:23-35), the Old gives us hope and is for our learning (Rom 15:4). The Old Testament is true and has it's place and the New Testament affirms that. That being said, I do agree with her 100% that one cannot use the Bible to prove Jews today have any more right to live in Palestine than anyone else, especially the residents (Palestinian Israelis) and former residents (refugees). Unlike her, I just don't think you have to reinterpret the Bible to see that; it's right there in the text.


Two links on the Bible and Israel/Palestine with scripture references:

I'm also pretty averse to saying absolutely that the Bible condones war or teaches pacifism or supports banning gay marriage or any other political act or persuasion. I think this is possibly going beyond what is written. The Bible is the guide for our spiritual growth and direction. This is not to say that the spiritual doesn't or shouldn't intersect with politics and such because the teachings of the Bible absolutely should inform our everyday decisions. This may sound contradictory, but it isn't. Maybe the nuance lies in putting each command of the Bible into law to become hollow like in the Pharisees time versus having the freedom to choose to submit to God's will and make these decisions for yourself (as far as the decisions don't hurt others- which is where the real purpose of civil law comes in...). Anyway, I'm with her as far as personally being compelled to help people and to treat others as I'd like to be treated. For example, if I were an occupied and oppressed person, I'd want the world to stand up to the occupying power instead of defending its right to exist on my grandparents property and defending its right to defend itself against my efforts to gain compensation, freedom, dignity and sadly, even basic necessities.


Other Christian Palestinian books or authors:

Mitri Raheb (Palestinian Christian, writes about the Occupation and being Christian)
---I Am A Palestinian Christian
---Bethlehem Besieged

Raja Shehadeh (Palestinian Christian, writes about the Occupation)
---Palestinian Walks
---Strangers in the House
---When the Birds Stopped Singing


Suad Amiry (Palestinian Christian, writes about the Occupation)
Sharon and My Mother-in-Law (under occupation with humor and grace)

Nothing to Lose But Your Life


Maria Khoury- I can't speak for her specific Chrsitian doctrine, but here is more proof that Palestinian Chrsitians are kind of ignored in American Christian support of Israel.


Naim Ateek on suicide bombing


The Kairos Palestine Document


Emma Williams
It's Easier to Reach Heaven Than the End of the Street (Westerner, doctor, mother, eyewitness to the conflict)



Fiction:
Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa

4 comments:

  1. You have an insightful article here. A Christian Palestinian would certainly give us a different and more honest perspective on the entire conflict that has been raging for decades in terms of current history.

    I do not condone overt violence against anyone. This has always personally led me away from any idea of possibly enlisting in the armed forces of America. But there is a time for war and a time for peace and for everything else under the sun.

    Your point about who has a right to live in Palestine or not is of primary interest to me. If we are to take this discussion purely in terms of political rights and wrongs...a worldly wisdom indeed...than their must be a political solution to let these two people live in peace and to make some restoration to the refugees.

    But unfortunately it's never that simple. Religion comes in (false or not) to the equation and really mucks up the works.

    Here we have two peoples. The Jews, God's chosen people, according to His Word and the Palestinians/Arabs/Muslims who became an indigenous people to the region for hundreds, even thousands of years.

    Both groups descended from Abraham in most cases. Separating at the line of Ishmael and Isaac. Muslims hold their heritage from Abraham and Ishmael as sacred...even though God's Word says Ishmael's descendants would always live by the sword.

    Jews have the promises given to Abraham and Isaac, as scripture states, in Isaac shall thy seed be called. In a purely scriptural context, God promised the land to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his descendants forever and ever. No such promise was given to the seed of Ishmael.

    Prophetic scripture gives us a view into God's plan for this region as in Daniel 9:24. Seventy Weeks are appointed unto your people (the Jews) and to the Holy City (Jerusalem). When these seventy weeks are completed, we essentially have the coming of God's Kingdom to earth in the following statements. To anoint the Most Holy, To bring and to sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to seal up the vision and prophecy...and 2 others I can not remember right now.

    The point is God's plan is to deal with the Jews and with Jerusalem. That is the focal point of this whole mess. It's an ancient prophecy that is looking closer to fruition today than ever before.

    God's Word speaks of how all this will come to pass in Daniel 9, Zechariah 12-14, Ezekiel 28, Luke 21, Matthew 24 and several other last days passages. These scriptures all have to do with the plan of God being fulfilled for the Jews and the Holy city. In the end that is what the last days are all about.

    However no one has the authority except God to bequeath the land to Israel (the Jews) and that is precisely what we are coming to in the Isaeli - Palestinian conflict. In the end, the saints of God inherit the Kingdom. The the Jew first and then to the gentile...a literal Kingdom of God with it's seat of power in Jerusalem and Jesus Christ on the throne.

    It will have to come down to Jesus Christ returning to depose the current regimes and lay waste to their political claims on the land.

    In the meantime, we have a huge political mess on our hands, being handled by incompetent Godless humans who are constantly jockeying for political and religious power over land and people.

    There is no easy answer to the problem, but my heart goes out to our Palestinian sister in Christ who has fallen victim to the governments of depraved men.

    Thanks for writing the article. I found you on Google...#2 right under my article on the same subject. If you want to check me out or exchange links I would be happy to do so. You can find me at http://thestrongwatchman.com

    The article I speak of is here. http://www.thestrongwatchman.com/the-last-days/70-news-for-the-last-days/852-israel-palestinian-state-and-jerusalem-biblical-prophecy-in-the-works.html

    Peace of Christ be with you and keep the faith.

    Amen.

    Greg aka The Strong Watchman

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  2. You might also check out my post(s) on christian zionism that will address my issue with Israel as God's chosen today:

    http://notanotherpoliticalblog-j.blogspot.com/2010/04/there-is-no-christ-in-christian-zionism.html

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. I am a Christian and believe strongly that Christians should help Christians! Even if you are not a Christian, Apartheid is not legal in South Africa and it should not be legal in Palestine. Israel has confiscated Palestinian homes, olive trees and on the West Bank built a 30ft high cement wall caging them in without any freedom of movement or to go visit relatives 10 miles away. What kind of life is this? The Gaza strip has 24 hr military watch and these people have never stepped outside of the Gaza strip in 45 years?? These people in Israel are not Gods chosen people as someone mentioned, obviously,they do not understand what they read in the Bible.
    First of all, the word Israel in the Bible means the 12 Tribes--the Tribe of Ephraim is Britain, the Tribe of Manasseh is the U.S. and the Tribe of Judah are the Jews (only 1 Tribe was Jewish), Assyria is present day Germany. So when the Bible mentions Israel in the Old Testament, you have to think about which specific Tribe was God talking about. Also, the Bible was written down 400 years later so I am sure that many things were not exactly as the original.
    The true Inhabitants of Israel were the British and when they left, because persecuted Jews from Europe needed a place, they mandated that it be made into a Two State Solution and frankly thats the way that it should be! Have you seen the way, they are building all those illegal settlements right on Palestinian land and right next to their homes and then build a wall between them while enjoying their land and olive trees. Outrageous!PALESTINE HAS NO OIL SO THERE IS NO INTERVENTION FROM THE U.S. PALESTINE DOES HAVE ALL THE CHRISTIAN HOLY SITES WHICH ISPROTECTED BY THE PALESTINIAN CHRISTIANS THERE AND WITHOUT THEM, ISRAEL WOULD HAVE THEM DESTROYED! BECAUSE OF THE CRIMES COMMITTED ON THE PALESTINIANS ON A DAILY BASIS, WHEN THEY BECOME FREE, THEY WANT TO TAKE ISRAEL AND THE U.S. TO THE CRIMINAL COURTS!
    Abraham was first the Father of the Arab race, then the Jews and Christians! Abraham was from Iraq and not Jewish! Rebekkah married to Jacob, was a Syrian and not Jewish! It goes on and on folks. And Jesus was Born of the Virgin Mary, so yes, Jesus has no nationality and is not preaching that one person is better than the other.
    I will explain the Palestinian situation in very easy layman terms: I own 2 Parakeet birds and they are in a Cage but I feed them water and food daily plus I open the Cage and let them fly around all day and they can come in and out as they please. PALESTINIANS DO NOT EVEN HAVE THAT AND ARE LOCKED UP IN THEIR CAGE 24/7 AND LITTLE ACCESS TO FOOD AND WATER!
    JESUS HAD COMPASSION. PLEASE DO NOT BE LIKE AN ISRAELI..HAVE SOME COMPASSION AS WELL.

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