As Israeli and Palestinian believers, we usually focus on our theological differences, but we are unaware of the greater political and societal differences. Recently, I was speaking with one of my colleagues from the Hebrew University, a professor who has done a lot of work on bringing Israelis and Palestinians together.
As the Christmas season approaches, I reflect on the events leading to the birth of Jesus and its relevance for us today. I am struck with the depth and insight God gives to us through different characters and situations in this story.
As the conflict in our region has continued for ten months, the sad news of innocent victims, including children and babies, has tragically become a regular occurrence.
In regions of conflict, the roles that women play in society prime them for their unique contributions to reconciliation activities.
This past August 4-7, 24 women left their homes and families and traveled to a small village on the Turkish side of Cyprus. We chose this location for a few reasons: 1) It isn’t too far away from Israel, so we didn’t have to travel for a long period of time. 2) It is a relatively “neutral” area, foreign to both Israelis and Palestinians, so we would feel equally comfortable or uncomfortable in this setting. 3) We had to cross the border into the Turkish side of Cyprus, and this was the first time Israelis and Palestinians could experience a border crossing together, comparable to what Palestinians regularly experience when crossing from Palestine to Israel.
Most of us as born-again believers in Jesus (Yeshua) do not have a problem with racism. That is a gross sin that we left behind along with lying and stealing. However, there are subtler dimensions of racial prejudice and ethnic pride that have more of a negative influence on us than we are aware.
The difference between this trip and other trips is that the Arabs are not Muslim, but Christian. That means they believe in Yeshua (Jesus), and that means we have a lot in common since the most important part of our lives is identical. That is what made me eventually decide to go; to see if peace really has a chance, once the separating religious walls have crumbled.