Oxford Dictionary’s definition of a nation is: “a large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular state or territory.” Musalaha affirms that the Palestinians are a nation, i.e., a people group, though yet without a nation-state. The Palestinian people have the right to develop a nation-state according to international law. The staff and board have varying opinions regarding the political implications of a Palestinian nation-state. (This varies from a one state solution, to a two state solution, etc.).
Musalaha affirms that Israel exists as a nation-state according to international law, and as such has the right to exist. We acknowledge that Israel defines itself as both a Jewish and democratic state. We embrace Israel’s democratic ideology as a state for the Jewish people and all of its citizens, regardless of ethnicity or creed.
We are accountable to God for our behavior within the conflict. We must ask ourselves, “Are we part of the solution, or are we part of the problem?” The conflict is an opportunity for us to model the ethics of the Kingdom of God – thus bringing glory to Him, and hope to our respective people.
We measure our success by the changes that we see in people’s lives, particularly in their attitudes towards reconciliation and fellowship. Additionally, we measure our success in people’s commitment to return and remain engaged in the process of bridge building between the communities. Some of our staff and board maintain that our success is not measured by what we can see, but by our faithfulness to God’s mandate to reconcile with one another. At the same time, others emphasize that biblical reconciliation is not an end in itself, but the means by which our respective societies will be impacted for Christ. (John 17:21)
a) Despite the fact that in the eyes of many these are big theological questions, we believe that there are far more important theological questions, e.g. How we love God, and how we love others. (Luke 10:27, Matthew: 5-7) b) Secondly, the above theological differences are being used as excuses to seriously limit fellowship with one another. We believe this is in contradiction to Christ’s teaching on the Kingdom of God. c) Our fellowship celebrates diversity and unity. Musalaha provides the space for a diverse range of opinions and theological views among its board, staff and participants. All are welcome to participate and express their point of view. It is important that we discuss our diverse views, and have a freedom to debate them in a respectful, God-honoring way. d) It is important to remember that if our theology does not make room for the other and leads us to hatred or discrimination, then we must reconsider our theology. We must also consider the moral and ethical implications of our theology, and we can often only learn this when we discuss our positions with those who have opposing views. We encourage one another to hold to our theological positions with humility, respecting one another’s right to positions other than our own.”
a) We define normalization as: The mindset, behavior that accepts or endorses the status quo by Palestinians, through interaction with Israelis. We do not believe Musalaha or its participants engage in normalization. In fact, the presence of Palestinians in reconciliation encounters challenges the status quo. Reconciliation encounters start a conversation, break down walls, and allow us to understand one another’s socio-political situation. We also come to know one another as fellow human beings created in God’s image. b) We acknowledge that Palestinians meeting with Israelis may be perceived as engaging in normalization. We applaud those who choose to engage in reconciliation initiatives regardless of social opinion, and their commitment to the Kingdom of God and fellowship with brothers and sisters in the Messiah.
Musalaha seeks to promote reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians as demonstrated in the life and teaching of Jesus. We endeavor to be an encouragement and advocate of reconciliation, first among Palestinian and Israeli believers and then beyond to our respective communities. Musalaha also aims at facilitating bridge building among different segments of Israeli and Palestinian societies according to biblical reconciliation principles.
*Note: Some of our board members struggled over certain aspects of this statement. For example, one board member struggled with the statement about Israel’s democracy, and another struggled with some of the statements about Palestine as a nation and the statement about Musalaha’s stance on military duty. However, both of these brothers, along with the rest of the board, remain committed to prioritize our fellowship and unity in Messiah above our various differences of opinion about the political situation.