Monday, June 07, 2010

Israel and Palestine

I hope to tread lightly here...this is a delicate and divisive topic. Israel has a special place in my heart, my family and my ministry. Palestinians include a number of Christian churches and communities who can trace their ancestry back to the first and second centuries, and they find themselves in a diffucult and sometimes desperate situation today.

By now everyone has heard of the deadly skirmish that took place between a boat operated by a Turkish aid organization and Israeli military forces. Everyone has chosen sides, and I have no doubt that those sides directly relate to the position that anyone held going into the event, either pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian.

The truth is this was a bad idea on both sides. The aid boat brought the kerosene, the military brought the matches, and the two were going to result in a fire. We can debate forever the "first causes" of such a situation--is it the blockade by Israel of Palestine, is it the leadership of Hamas who promotes the extinction of Israel, is it the occupied-by-Israel territory, the severe hardships of Palestinians, the millenia-long persecution of Jews, etc. etc. There are innumerable causes to return to. But do we ever get anywhere?

Like usual, I've got a few broad thoughts I want to share. None of them probably provide any solution to the current relationship--or lack thereof--between Israel and Palestinians (or most of her neighbors for that matter), but maybe they can cause us to think and act not according to our preconceived notions but according to wisdom and character.

1. No ally is perfect. Yes, Israel is our best and most trusted ally in the region. But allies make mistakes, and quite frankly it should be okay for us to discuss our mistakes with friends. I'm not saying Israel made a mistake, but I am saying that the call for unmitigated support of Israel regardless of their actions, especially from some Christian circles, is out of touch with reality. When the early nation of Israel oppressed the alien and stranger among them, God sent prophets to call them on it. Today should be no different. And if we are oppressing the alien and stranger among us, our friends should be the ones telling us "Hey, you need to do something about this."

2. This situation is not George Bush's fault, nor is it Barack Obama's fault. Stop using world politics to blame American politicians that you disagree with.

3. As the church, let's make sure that we always consider being a voice for those who have little or no voice of their own. We are not to be impressed with the places and positions of power but are called to understand, like Mother Teresa (and I guess like Jesus of Nazareth), that humble love and service and sacrifice will change the world over the long haul. The ring of power will destroy those who arrogantly think that they can overcome evil with evil. "Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are the household of faith." Ga 6.9-10 ESV

"Let us not grow weary..."

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