Musalaha Blog

Witnessing Reconciliation During Trying Times: A Reflection on Musalaha’s Work

In the fall of 2013, I realized that after three summers of working at Musalaha’s Children’s camp, it was time to gain a deeper understanding of the culture and conflict in this land. So, during the summer of 2014, I spent six weeks in Israel volunteering for Musalaha. I had no idea what to expect during my time there; all I knew was that God grew in me a desire to be there and serve.

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“I Wish I Could Stay in this Camp Forever”

Summers are a very intense time for us here at Musalaha. We host three summer camps every year, and the summer months are always a bit tense and crazy. Whether it’s more phone calls, a larger group of volunteers, or a huge increase in crafts and supplies, our offices are busier than any other time of the year. To add to it, this summer was met with much anxiety and fear due to the conflict in Gaza. Some thought it was just another round of rockets and raids, and that it would end quickly, but sadly we see that it has turned out to be so much more.

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The One

What is the one
against the multitudes,
myriads of those who fall
innocent but for the crime,
the wound of unasked life,
unchosen ethnicity?
No matter the appellation,
unimportant; determinative
only by the time,
the place unchosen
when rage erupts
from its lair of pain,
flaying wildly against the confines
of secondary categories.

Enmity continues
entrenched in generations
grown twisted,
lost before birth
to chaos of conflict.
Air polluted from first breath,
poisoned by hate’s insidious miasma
lying low
like early morning fog
rising from warmed earth.
There is no sun
to burn thickening mists
bloated by violence
spewed from yesterday’s world.

The one,
within the multitude,
is ever to be treasured,
celebrated in life,
mourned in death.
Death of one
is a piercing arrow pain
experienced acutely,
shocking in its potency.
The multitude
is beyond comprehension.
One alone does know this pain
bears it yet in the still open wounds
beyond resurrection.

By Lisa Loden

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A Time for Repentance

This past Monday evening I was visiting my mother before a speaking engagement in Tel Aviv when a siren went off indicating an incoming rocket from Gaza. I immediately called the coordinator arranging this meeting to ask her if she wanted to cancel. She said no, and asked that I please attend. This was a group of French-Jewish professionals who came to visit the country as part of an educational trip. During much of their trip they only heard the Israeli side, and this lecture was to expose them to minority experiences in the state of Israel. After my lecture, they asked many questions, and it was evident in the way they talked that they wanted to keep the moral high ground. This desire to maintain the moral high ground has been very evident among both Israelis and Palestinians.

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Kidnappings, Riots and Fear

As we are approaching the quarter-finals of the World Cup this year, each game is the make or break for the remaining teams. They don’t get second chances. One of the things I enjoy about the World Cup is that it brings people together. It is a good topic for conversation because everyone has an opinion about it. I have noticed there are different types of audiences for this World Cup; some are devoted fans who know everything about the teams and are over-passionate; there some that I call “observing spectators” enjoying the social aspect of watching the games; and then there are those in between.

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God in the Midst of Chaos: The Message of Habakkuk

The streets are emptier than usual on my drive between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. When I return home in the evenings I usually find the atmosphere in our flat full of excitement or great disappointment depending on whether my sons’ favorite teams have won or lost in this summer’s World Cup. Similar shouts of elation or frustration are heard from my neighbors’ windows.

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When Silence is Rebellious

I have recently started reading the book of Ezekiel, and as I have meditated on Ezekiel chapters 1 and 2, I am struck by God’s revelation of his glory and majesty preceding his prophetic call for Ezekiel. The language is evocative, descriptive, and beautiful. As God reveals himself, he calls Ezekiel to speak to the people of Israel who, during that time, were living in a state of rebellion.

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The Man Who Reached Out to Bless My Father: The Story of Joseph Ben-Eliezer

I recently wrote the forward to a book, which was translated into Arabic, about the life of Joseph Ben-Eliezer. This is a story that I have been asked to share many times. It is a story about an act of forgiveness and reconciliation. In his book, Ben-Eliezer, a Jewish follower of Jesus shares about his suffering at the hands of the Nazis during the horrifying events of World War II, his journey to the land and fighting in the war of 1948. His unit served in Lydda, where many atrocities were committed against the people of this town. Years later, Ben-Eliezer returned to the land to seek forgiveness from my father, Yacoub Munayer, a Palestinian from Lydda. These two men are no longer living with us today, but they are examples and role models for all of us. Their stories are not easy to tell because it speaks of the painful histories of our peoples in this land. Yet, at the same time their stories give a vision for the future, and hope and encouragement to those of us working in reconciliation.

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Through My Enemy’s Eyes: Envisioning Reconciliation in Israel-Palestine

We are excited to announce that after much labor, thought, prayer, writing, discussion and revision, the much anticipated Through My Enemy’s Eyes Envisioning Reconciliation in Israel-Palestine has just been released by Paternoster Press. Musalaha Director and Palestinian Christian Salim J. Munayer together with Musalaha Board Member and Israeli Messianic Jew Lisa Loden, tackle many of the issues and debates that split their two communities. This book addresses the universal theological dimension of reconciliation in the context of the Israeli Messianic Jewish and Palestinian Christian divide. The struggle for reconciliation is painful and often extremely difficult for all of us. Yet, this unique work seeks to show the way forward.

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How Do Your People Lament?

The Great Lakes Initiative Leadership Institute in partnership with Duke Divinity School’s Center for Reconciliation invited me to Kampala, Uganda, to share what we at Musalaha have learned about reconciliation in the Israeli-Palestinian context. More than 150 African leaders from countries surrounding Lake Victoria attended this conference and for some of them it was the first time meeting a Palestinian Christian. An interesting aspect of this was their perception of all Arabs as being Muslim. It was also intriguing for me to understand how these African leaders are grappling with the issues of land and how they found several articles in the book The Land Cries Out relevant to their contexts. Other than being encouraged by how relevant our Curriculum of Reconciliation was to their local situations, I was also challenged by what they shared.

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