Thursday, January 1, 2009

On Being Pro-People

I challenge you to a duel. Not a duel with me, although I did take a fencing class in college. That was pretty fun and I didn’t come in last for our class tournament. But, I digress. No, I challenge you to an internal duel.

I challenge you to go to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. I would like you to go there and see if you don’t come out of there with a deep sense that nothing coming close to resembling that horrific event must ever happen again. I challenge you to not come out of there with a sense of the enormous importance of the state of Israel. You come out of there knowing the Israelis must be able to defend and protect themselves.

Then, I challenge you to go to the Palestinian side of Jerusalem. I challenge you to see some of the poverty there. I want you to visit a Palestinian refugee camp. I challenge you to not come away from there with a deep sense that something must be changed, that the disenfranchisement of the people must be addressed.

This is one of my struggles. Understand me, I think both sides have legitimate arguments. Let me make another thing clear. I absolutely despise terrorism in any form. I can in no way support violence in getting any point across. Terrorism has not done the Palestinian cause any favors it has just caused more violence.

I have known and respected Palestinians and Israelis.

This internal duel did not just start up when I spent my semester in Jerusalem. I have long been fascinated by the Middle East and made it a matter of study in college. So, I went there with dueling opinions which ended up being solidified. To call myself pro- one side would make it seem that I was anti- the other. So, what am I?

My answer came while I was there. I had Jewish and Palestinian instructor’s who taught there own, and I believe accurate, points of view. My Palestinian instructor Dr. Nazal would often talk about his love for President Howard W. Hunter, a former president of my Church which sponsored the Jerusalem Center. Some students asked Dr. Nazal to explain why he had such a strong connection with Howard W. Hunter. He proceeded to tell us about the first time that they met. When they were introduced to each other President Hunter looked at Dr. Nazal and said “ah you’re the one who is giving me all the problems.” Dr Nazal was understandably taken aback and asked what he meant. President Hunter explained that he had gotten phone calls from parents complaining that their children were coming home pro-Palestinian. Dr. Nazal explained that he was just teaching his students the truth. President Hunter than assured him by saying “it’s okay, hopefully someday they will just be pro-people.”

Yes!!! I had it. That is what I am, pro-people.

Do I support the free and democratic state of Israel? Absolutely. Do I support efforts to better the lives of Palestinians? You bet.

Now, how do we help both causes in an appropriate and satisfying way? Well, I guess the duel continues. But, at least I know whose side I’m on: The People.

I wrote this post quite a while ago, but felt it would be pertinent now.
Hamas is an unsupportable entity. Any group who is willing to use violence particularly against innocent civilians is repugnant. We have seen these terrorists willingness to not only attack civilians, but also to hide out among their own civilians endangering them. It disgusts me.

I’m deeply saddened by the loss of life on both sides of the conflict now. Terrorism is the root cause of it. That is very easy to see.

However, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict is a deeply embedded and long conflict that is difficult to summarize. I believe Israel has the right to protect itself. However, I also believe that a lasting peace will only be possible if Israel is willing to take a good long hard look at their treatment of the Palestinians and make efforts to improve their conditions.

Terrorists have used Palestinians as their excuse for their abominable acts. Take that away from them and terrorists will be seen even more clearly as exactly what they are, power hungry murderers.

Like I said it is a difficult conflict to summarize. A good book to start with is Arab and Jew by David Shipler. It’s an oldie but a goodie. Check it out. Pray for Peace.
God Bless


Kat said...

Hi! It's me, Kat, from the Glendale YSA ( Nikki, Holly, and Ranae's roommate ), anyway, I agree and feel the same way. I have the same internal duel, and often find myself defending Palestine in our society that is pro-Israeli, but at the same time feeling sympathetic to Israel. So, I too, join you in being Pro-People!

manajordan said...

Hey Kat,

Thanks for the comment. I finally got the Queen Noor book. She's pretty cool.