Lament for Israel and Palestine

Vantage Point
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Even the lamenting Jeremiah writes that God’s mercies are new every morning.

Both sides in the conflict between Israel and Palestine claim to be right. Hope and despair have competed for years, and I lament the failures.

For Israel . . .
I cry for Israel because she does not know what will bring her peace. Most of her citizens support the peace process. Yet the nation is split equally between those who support sharing the land and others who support Israel’s forceful land claims.

I cry for Israel because extremists in both groups don’t know how to talk to each other. Instead they sabotage the bridge-building efforts.

I cry for Israel because she has found no rest. Even now that she has her own place in the land of her forebears, rest seems to slip through her fingers. And I recall that Abraham didn’t do much better on his way to the Promised Land (Heb. 11:8-10).

I cry for Israel because she defines her identity more as the victim/survivor of antiSemitic sentiments past and present than in the positive expectations of the Creator to be a blessing among the nations.

I cry for Israel because she has become nervous about the presence of sincere Christians among her citizens. It’s no wonder she keeps the Christian world—not exactly a “buddy”—at arm’s length. But Israel can no longer act as if no major changes have taken place in Jewish/Christian dialogue since World War II.

I cry for Israel with the hope that she would open her heart and mind to other people and nations and so discover that she is loved and respected.

I cry for Israel because I want her to be a more joyful people. Even the lamenting Jeremiah writes that God’s mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:22-24).

For Palestine . . .
A majority of Palestinian people want peace. How? Negotiations? Terrorist attacks? Gradually she is discovering that violence hurts her own people more than any other target.

I cry for Palestine because the doctrine of revenge holds her in a neverending cycle of personal and communal destruction. Revenge boomerangs.

I cry for Palestine because she will not find rest in the territory that will be demarcated as her place unless she can see her gain rather than her loss.

I cry for Palestine because most of the Christians among her—well educated and desiring a “normal” life—migrated to a more promising future elsewhere. A minority is trying to survive in a Muslim culture.

I cry for Palestine with the hope that she will be delivered from her anger and set free to live a life that reflects self-respect and dignity in an Islamic environment.

I cry for Palestine because God made rich promises also to the descendants of Ishmael (Gen. 17:20).

About the Author

As president of Jerusalem University from 1993-2001, Dr. Sidney DeWaal was deeply involved in interfaith discussions among Jews, Christians, and Muslims facilitated by the Interreligious Coordinating Council of Israel, of which he was co-chair.

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Comments

Why would a Christian want Palistinians (or anyone) to remain in an "Islamic environment" – much less desire the impossibility of (true) freedom and self-respect within it?

How, exactly, does Israel rest "in the positive expectations of the Creator to be a blessing among the nations” without embracing Christ – the reason she was to be “a blessing” in the first place?

Why is the Banner printing such an overt lament wiithout an overt hope in Christ for the people suffering?

If the Israel/Palestinian conflict is going to be addressed theologically (and, it should), and the Banner is going to publish articles on it – either offering a solution or as a ‘discussion starter’ – why is the great hope for peace and the end to war and the way of full humanity veiled (at best) in this article? Where is gospel of Jesus?

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