Sunday, September 09, 2007

Beloved Israel

Dear Josh,

In a recent post comment you raised a good question for those of us who live in a place where we cannot see Israel with our own eyes and for those of us who are very much in favor of a place for Israel on our globe. Those of us who hate oppression of any kind, I think, have warm and tender feelings for the people group which has, through history, received the most cruel treatment—the children of Israel.

I would not, for a minute, wish ill for the nation of Israel. In fact, it is for that very reason that I responded when my Jewish friends who are involved in the organization Women in Black asked me to join them in weekly "protests" calling for peace with justice in Palestine. One of those Jewish friends recently tried to visit Israel and Palestine, but she was refused entrance because, on her itinerary, it stated that she wished to visit areas in the West Bank that are in crisis. These areas have come to be known as "occupied areas." The Longstreths, a husband/wife medical team from San Diego did make that visit this past summer. The following link takes you to a description of what they observed.

Here is another piece written by Seth Freedman in the Jerusalem Post.

When I say that I wish no ill for Israel, that does include my belief that the worst ill is doing evil, not being the recipient of evil. It is terrible to be oppressed. It is worse to be an oppressor. It is terrible to be victimized. It is worse to be a victimizer.

Palestinians include both Christian and Muslim individuals. Most of the Palestinians I know here in Knoxville are Christians. Some are Muslim. Both groups are equally oppressed in Palestine. Jewish, Christian, and Muslim women here are working together for the same goal. Peace with Justice in Palestine.

As I think of this, my mind randomly jumps to two things. One is Psalm 137. It is not the words of this Psalm that are "dead on," but the emotion.

By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
"Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
How shall we sing the Lord's song
in a foreign land?

Palestinian, Jew, American, Muslim, Josh, Betsy--we all can sing this song when we are tormented or far from home. Humans understand this sentiment.

I am reminded, too, of the book I finished last night. The End by Lemony Snicket. Yes, I have finished the last book of the Series of Unfortunate Events, the sad tale of the Baudelaire children. I am fascinated by this study of good and evil written for the 12 year old crowd. As this book points out, the world is a complicated place and one does not do noble things without doing a fair share of treacherous ones. That is certainly happening in Israel. I pray that the leaders of the government there will become more self aware, introspective, and realize that they are investing in too much treachery and too little nobility in relation to the Palestinian population. If they do not, they will find that though they are in The Lord's land, the timbre of the lyres will be sour indeed.



Josh Stock said...

Thank you for this description. As one who follows the news, but has little contact with the 'facts on the ground,' I have often wondered about the situation in the West Bank. The American media truly shows only one side of things.

One of my friends at Wheaton college was Palestinian by descent--his parents, I believe, immigrated from Lebanon. And it was in talking to him that I realized for the first time how many Christians were being hurt because of the reactions of the Israeli government. It made me want to claim solidarity with my Christian brothers who are being tormented by discrimination.

At the same time, I understand some of the fear that Israel lives within--surrounded on all sides by enemies wishing your destruction, and having many of them within your own land. But it doesn't justify this. Nothing justifies this.


brd said...

It is very difficult. It is time for a peace initiative, but who will initiate? At one time the US played a positive role. Now, we are the war mongers of the region. The United Nations? Jimmy Carter? Jesse Jackson? The Screen Actors Guild? The people?