Have you ever been told that supporting Israel prevents you from supporting Palestinians? After taking this course, how would you go about responding to false accusations like this? - Pathfinder

Have you ever been told that supporting Israel prevents you from supporting Palestinians? After taking this course, how would you go about responding to false accusations like this?

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    • #1444
      pathfinderlms
      Keymaster
    • #2532
      Katherine Zehnder
      Participant

      While I have not explicitly been asked or told that supporting Israel means that you can’t also support Palestine the following is how I would respond to such assertion.

      You must look at the big picture, the whole picture, look at the whole chess board, you have to think multiple moves ahead, as so in international politics. Being pro-Israel doesn’t have you anti-Palestine. While the ideal solution is a two-state solution, where both nations can live side by side in peace and collaboration, that is goal that we have not yet achieved. If you are saying that being pro-Israel makes you anti-Palestine, you are being blinded by your bias. Everyone has biased no matter how much we try to deny it. It’s ok to be biased, you are human, you can’t help but be biased no matter how hard you try, but you must own and be aware of your bias.

      • #3449
        David Ndayishimiye
        Participant

        Hello Katherine,
        I agree with your statement. Being pro-Israel does not conclude vice versa. As you stated, everyone has their own biases. However, I also believe that negligence of facts and truth can be hazardous. Such a statement shouldn’t even be normal. When looking at what Israel has done and is doing, you’ll realize that they actually support Palestine more than most of the Palestinians themselves. When you look at the sacrifices that Israel has made by giving away the Golan heights, etc, it’ll surprise you to see someone still not understanding that the main issue is not Israel.

    • #2579

      I have definitely been told that I have to support either Israel or Palestine. Of course, it has not been stated distinctly to me, but has been hinted at or stated subtly. I remember talking to a professor at college, telling her that I could not decide which “side” I was on. She said it would be beneficial to go to Israel and find out for myself. Even afterward, though, she said, I still might not have an answer, which is okay.

      Initially, I took her advice specifically about it being “okay” not to know the answer or solution to the problem. After taking this course, I have been challenged to make a decision. As a Christian, I must decide. It is not a decision of whether I “support” Israel or Palestine. It is a decision that I believe the Jews deserve a state where they can be free. But that does not mean I do not support Palestine. I share a special friendship with the Jewish people, but I also believe Palestinians have rights just like every other country. That is what I will respond to false accusations about choosing one side or the other.

      • #3355
        Lillian Gillespie
        Participant

        Jacqueline, it is so refreshing to hear that your professor encouraged you to find out your position for yourself. I had a Jewish professor who intimated that Israel is a colonizing state and that she was not a Zionist. I have heard the argument that you can be anti-Zionist and not anti-Semitic, but I find that extremely hard to wrap my head around. I completely agree with your assessment that Christians cannot be neutral in this conflict. The position that both peoples are deserving of self-determination and rights should not be controversial and somehow it is made so. I also think it is easy to see, especially after this course, the special friendship between Christians and Jews.

    • #2602
      Jordan Leatherwood
      Participant

      Coming from a family with different religious and cultural mindsets, this topic can come up, especially at points when Israeli-Palestinian tensions are high. While I have never been explicitly told that supporting Israel means not supporting Palestine or Palestinians, it does seem as though one can “read between the lines”. As Robert said, coming at this from a Christian perspective, it is important for us to own our bias. Of course, with my faith being grounded in the very existence of Hebrew culture, faith, and background, my bias is toward Israel.

      In response to the notion that supporting Israel means not supporting Palestine – respond with compassion. Acknowledge the struggles that the Palestinian people have had since 1948. It very much possible for us, and I believe this should be our stance, to support a free and independent Jewish State, while supporting humane treatment and equal protection under the law for the Palestinian people, not only in the Jewish State, but in Gaza and the West Bank, as well. A two-state solution has been and, in my mind, will always be the best option for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If nations central to the spreading of Islam around the world including Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Morrocco, etc, can find peace and normalize relations with Israel, so can the Palestinians.

      • #3494
        Angela Lingg
        Participant

        Jordan – I think, like you said, that compassion is key. The decisions made in the past were unfair and misguided (which is easier to say now with decades of perspective to reflect on). Simply ignoring the pain that has been inflicted on both people groups will never lead to a peaceful outcome. While we can’t undo the sins of the past, it takes great humility to acknowledge them and try and work towards a better solution with the situation that exists today.

    • #2623
      Carrie Coffman
      Participant

      My first real interaction with this issue came with the May 2021 conflict, which occurred just two months before I would travel Israel for the first time and just days after I had fully committed to the trip. With my excitement to learn more and the introduction to resources to do so also came subtle opposition from peers for even considering a trip to Israel in the first place. I did notice the massive wave of Palestinian support (and with that, Israeli opposition) that swept over social media for the majority of the summer. Luckily, between the trip experience I had and courses like these, I’ve been able to work toward replacing some blindly rooted opinions for concrete facts on the conflict. First and foremost, I believe that the immediate response to a proposition that Israeli support means Palestinian opposition should be one of recognizing that extremist perspectives like this are neither inherently true nor helpful. Just as support for a U.S. politician does not mean support for all of his/her policies, neither does support for Israel mean support for all of its actions. I also think it’s important to remember and remind others that the injustices that have happened in the past will not be erased nor made better by injustice performed in the present. Hate cannot be cancelled out with more hate, and anti-Semitic ideas to erase Jewish presence in the land altogether will only serve to worsen the state of the conflict.

      • #2864
        Jamila White
        Participant

        Carrie,

        I have encountered both Jews and Palestinians that want to move forward in forgiveness, but do not how to do so. Both people groups asked for us to pray for them continuously. I began to wonder if Christians really are praying for them. This stirred initiative up in my heart. Not a day goes by that I do not think about the Jewish people and the Palestinians. Intercession and building genuine relationships with both groups is needed. There are many that are hungry for it, but will any believers take the initiative? It does require sacrifice of time and resources, but it is rewarding. Both groups have expressed longing for true hope, true peace, and true joy. As Christians, we are to display the love of God to people. We are to display the peace that surpasses all understanding, which will be noticeable and spark curiosity. I believe that many people mistake having love for both groups for having full support with no acknowledgement of wrongdoing. The analogy I think of is a parent who loves their children. The parent will not agree with every decision their children make and will correct their children in love, however, they will still supply their children with the basic fundamental needs: love, respect for their being, and provision. Yes , indeed you are correct when you stated hatred in response to hatred is not the answer. Many Christians know that we are to love the person and hate the evil, but many do not know how to effectively execute this. I am so grateful the Lord has been teaching me this as I have many Jewish, Palestinian, and Arab people in my life.

        Jamila

      • #2974

        Thanks Carrie for your response. Just a quick note about social media and extremism. It seems that binary choices, ignorance, and conflicts like the one we’re discussing are amplified by social media.

        I wonder how we would frame this conversation or how American Christians would approach the conflict if we were not inundated with binary news on social media. It seems that social media breeds extremism and promotes binary choices that push people to one pole or the other.

        Thoughts?

      • #3450
        David Ndayishimiye
        Participant

        Hi Carrie,
        I greatly agree with your last statement that says that the injustices that have happened in the past will not be erased nor made better by injustice performed in the present and that hate cannot be canceled out with more hate, and that anti-Semitic ideas to erase Jewish presence in the land altogether will only serve to worsen the state of the conflict. I have seen a lot of such scenarios but it never ends well, especially for the ones at fault. Nothing done on the face of the earth will remain hidden forever, let alone such a problem. Instead of doing what many are doing by either trying to erase history or trying to justify their unjust cause for their benefit, it’d be more beneficial to sit together and find a solution. War and conflict do not yield better results.

    • #2689
      Evan Crain
      Participant

      My head is full of childhood notions. Being an adult brings a mix of (in Pathfinder language) struggle, wisdom, and therapeutic self-examination and resolution of ridiculous assumptions. These assumptions, I’ve found and resolved over the years, including a host of theological beliefs and expectations for life, were of no fault of the adults in my childhood, but were childlike interpretations and extrapolations that persisted until finally challenged. For example, I spent several teenage years watching cable media. A ridiculous and unintended consequence is that I have struggled for years to understand conflicts as more than binary – cable media always presents two false choices (whatever political spin from the two parties, which are almost never MECE, mutually exclusive collectively exhaustive). The Israeli / Palestinian conflict is an example of binary false choices. No adult has ever told me to choose between them, but I’ve always assumed this. Learning in this course about the historical roots of Palestine and the factors that designed the modern state of Israel have resolved this ridiculous assumption.

      • #2863
        Jamila White
        Participant

        Evan,

        I rarely watch News media, because of the one-sided narrative that is presented on all news platforms. If I do watch, I do not leave my brain and spirit at the door so to speak. I always try to use discernment while listening. When I traveled to Israel in June 2022, I saw with my own eyes that this conflict is much more complex than people make it out to be. Furthermore, beyond the binary false choices that you mentioned, there is a spiritual root to this conflict that even most Christians do not discern. I have met Arabs that desire for this conflict to stop, however, they know it will take something much more than policies set in place. One common thing I was asked by both the Jewish people and the Palestinian people was to pray for them. Many times Christians say they are praying, but are we really interceding? Both groups are really suffering and I cannot help but think about the innocent children of both sides that will be subjected to generations of trauma, war, and the spirit of death that has plagued this region. The binary false choices that you are referring to is known as the for or against method. In other words, either you are for us or against us. God is a God of justice but also love, mercy, and grace. Even the IDF soldier I met in Israel, who was an Israeli Jew, acknowledged that the Palestinian children tug on his heart. He expressed how he cannot have hatred for them. I hope this paints a picture of the falsehood news media often presents to us and inspires you and others to dive deeper into the word of God and building relationships with the Jewish people and Palestinians as you see fit.

        Jamila

      • #2973

        Thanks for the thoughtful reply Evan. I think your framing of it being a binary vs non-binary choice is a crucial observation. In the West we tend to think in binary terms. Religion, politics, whatever it is, it’s difficult to break out of that way of thinking.

        So I’m often finding that I have to tell myself to look for the good in what the other side is saying, and that the issue we’re discussing might just be a false dilemma.

    • #2846
      Christian Brehmer
      Participant

      Yes, often by individuals that have never been to the land. Ultimately, a two-state is necessary as there appears to be no other viable option that has peace for both sides. Often, the individuals that passionately decry against two states have never been to the land and lead with a zeal of ignorance that reminds me of Proverbs 18:2 (ESV): “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” In contrast, as Christians (that want to make a positive impact), we have to have a sound understanding before expressing our opinions. I am grateful that Philos Project gives opportunities to understand the conflict through various programs, including Pathfinder.
      I strongly agree with point 7. We need Christians committed to real friendships to impact people on both sides of the conflict. The best learning experiences I have had on the conflict have been through opportunities because of Philos Project, which allows authentic conversations to happen, allowing me to have a paradigm shift in understanding the conflict.

      • #3411
        Christina Sturgeon
        Participant

        Thanks for pointing us to Proverbs 18:2, Christian! The thought that verse prompted was: when do we actually achieve understanding, especially given the complexities at play? When can a half-baked opinion be asserted without being a fool? Or are we always fools, just in varying degrees? I think the key word in that verse is “only”–the fool does not consider or desires to understand, “only” to hear the sound of his/her own voice. May we never grow weary of trying to take time to sit, listen, question, and then speak/act.

    • #2862
      Jamila White
      Participant

      I have not been directly told this statement, however, I have heard others allude to this in conversation. What I find interesting is that I have had to come face-to-face with this conflict in my own life prior to traveling to Israel in June 2022 and taking this course. My name is an Arabic name, that is often used by Muslims. I do not have a Muslim or Arabic ethnic background. My father simply chose the name, because he liked the meaning behind the name. My first name has allowed me to have many interactions with both Arabs and Muslims throughout my life. I have also developed relationships with Jewish people here in America since I was an undergrad in college. I had a unique interest in the Jewish people and Israel as I learned more about God’s word after giving my life to Christ in college. I also developed love for the Arabic people I met. I worked with Arabic and Muslim physicians for 3.5 years when I worked in the ER. Through all of the aforementioned experiences, I must acknowledge that I have been embraced by both the Jewish people and the Arabs. I believe this to be a work of God himself. I also cannot forget the injustices I have personally witnessed from both sides. In response to the above accusation, I would personally state that no political policy can solve this issue. This conflict is much deeper than the surface level that is presented. I have met Arabs that desperately desire this conflict to stop, however, they feel as if both sides are being exploited for economic, political, and spiritual gain. I believe the root to be spiritual and have the scriptural support and personal accounts in support of my view and response. As a Christian, I am called to hate falsehood and evil. This means that I hate the killings, tortures, and lies that are being spread, but I love the people. I love Israel and the people of Israel, but I also love the Palestinians. This does not mean that there is no wrongdoing, but rather it is the overflowing of the love, grace, and mercy that God himself has shown me. I must also do the same for both the Jewish people and the Palestinians. This does not imply that I am neutral. I am on the side of God and his justice, but also his steadfast love, grace, and mercy. Romans 9:18 displays the perfect wisdom and knowledge of God. I believe that I will never know all of the secret things behind this conflict for it is not meant for my finite mind to know. I do know that I am called to love all people, showing grace and mercy with no partiality. Both groups are worthy of being shown the love of God. I believe God will do a great work with both groups of people and only He will get the glory out of it. Not the politicians, extremist groups, religious leaders. Disciples of Christ will help to play a part in this by displaying supernatural love that will point both groups to the word of God.

      Jamila

      • #3413
        Christina Sturgeon
        Participant

        Hi Jamila, I appreciate your take on this and how you point back to God and the “side” of his justice. With that perspective, we realize any outpouring of love we have for either side is due to God’s work in and between sinners. I similarly heard comments from locals in Israel who felt like both sides were being exploited for gain. The perspective from the outside is only half the story–if that.

      • #3464
        Anna Selzer
        Participant

        Hi Jamila!
        You bring such an interesting take and point of view to this discussion. I would definitely agree that the conflict is much deeper than a political issue, and that the conflict undoubtedly has spiritual roots. As Christians we are called to love the Palestinians, even though the Middle East may oftentimes seem far removed from our own lives. Like you said, both groups deserve God’s love and graciousness.

    • #2972

      Certainly. I have heard the opposite as well. In June of 2021 I was in FL on Sanibel Island with two friends. While walking the beach we ran into a group of students, strangers to us, and starting chatting. One of the girls had a necklace with something written in Arabic on it. My friend spoke Arabic and had just recently visited Israel, so he asked if she had even been to Israel. She replied, “No. and it’s all Palestine to me. There is no Israel.”

      I’ve heard this type of reply from many Christians in the US, but this was the first I had heard the opposite reply. It was jarring. But it was good for me to hear. I imagine those on the other side of the conflict feel just as taken aback when American Christians completely deny Palestine and refuse to try to empathize with their situation.

      In my experience the best way to reply to someone responding with false accusations like this is to ask questions. You can’t change someone’s mind until you understand why they believe what they believe.

      • #3403
        Kacie Marks
        Participant

        Hi John, I enjoyed reading your post. I appreciate that you responded to false accusations by simply asking questions. It is a disarming approach because it shows the other individual that you want to understand their point of view and are open to learning. Jesus often responded to people by asking them questions and encouraging them to think about something in a new way. Sometimes it is easy to feel pressured to know exactly what to say to defend the Jewish people and show love/respect for both Israel and Palestine, but I think being quick to listen and slow to speak is the best method. The manner in which we respond is just as powerful as the words we use!

    • #2975

      Considering my faith as a Christian, it has always been more easier to side with Israel than Palestine because Christians are more connected to Judaism than Islam, despite not understanding the genesis of the conflict. However, after my mind has been renewed through this Philo course, I’ve realized that all parties are created in God’s imagine, and the message of reconciliation must be key to resolving this conflict. Just because Palestinians have resoundingly rejected all forms of reconciliation and the West playing a neutral role in the process, it still doesn’t negate the fact that love and peace can still exist. Even if Christians would want to take a side with Israel, Jesus’ teachings mandates us to love our “enemy” and pray for those who persecute us. Are Palestinians our enemy? No! It’s not about who’s right/wrong but what can be done to resolve this situation.

    • #3017
      Cara Brown
      Participant

      The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is undoubtedly a caustic and divisive issue. Due to the continuing complex hostilities, many people seem to have an expectation that if someone supports one, they must, therefore, be against the other. Perhaps this also originates from cultural identities in the region that have been founded on hatred of the ‘other’ or as a victim as we discussed in the course. Such an environment breeds an “us” versus “them” mentality with little room for compromise or discussion. When that type of mentality develops and becomes the norm, it would be extremely challenging to recognize the mentality in yourself and reexamine flaws on either side. Some may argue that support for Israel is anti-Palestinian because you’re inherently approving displacement of the Palestinian people. I would argue that the state of Israel has allowed many different peoples to live together and flourish including non-Jewish people, many of which are Arabs. Palestinians could be included in that future, no longer a displaced people, and live in their lands, if only both groups could live side by side.

      • #3214
        Samuel Lowry
        Participant

        Hi Cara, thanks for your perspective on resolving this conflict and responding to those with other opinions. Unfortunately, it seems that many tend to focus on the past versus on the future. If only a different lens could be shown towards peace and co-habitation, then both people groups could move forward regardless of the land’s history. But what can we do to show this lens? I like the idea of Christians being in active communities that build relationships and share these perspectives. Hopefully, maybe even one at a time, we can help be an active solution to resolving the conflict.

      • #3493
        Angela Lingg
        Participant

        Cara – I think you are right that in American culture we try to boil complex issues into either “for” or “against”. Sometimes it is that simple – such as on stark moral issues where the Bible makes it clear that this or that is a sin. But most of the times the issues we are grappling with fall in a gray area. Even as we consider the Israel-Palestine conflict we have to recognize the sin, greed and hatred that led to this conflict in the past. The question are you pro-Israel or pro-Palestine leaves little room for fully discussing and understanding the issue. This black and white mentality has led to many passionate yet misinformed people.

    • #3052
      Sarah Weiskopf
      Participant

      Personally, I have not had anybody use the exact words that supporting Israel prevents a person from supporting the Palestinian people. However, it can be seen in America that we often make a conflict or issue divided into two major segments. For most issues here in the States, we are either “pro-this” or “against-this”. For the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, I believe it is much more complex than just choosing to side with one specific group of people. I would go about responding to this by saying that all of humanity is created in the image of God. Whether people choose to follow the Lord or not is a separate decision, but God created humanity as a reflection of who He is. The Jewish people, I believe, should have a nation as the Lord did use this specific group of people throughout the Bible for His redemptive plan. However, there should be a way to do this without eliminating an entire group of people- the Palestinians. Both the Palestinians and the Jewish people are in need of a Savior ultimately, so our goal as Christians should be to display the love of Christ to both groups.

      • #3117
        Tanner Hauck
        Participant

        Hi Sarah, I enjoyed your framing that in the States we are either pro-this or against-this and agree with the statement. I think a lot of it could stem from our two party political system, however, I suspect there are many more underlying factors. Regardless, we as American’s and western society in general struggle with ambiguity and desire things to be black and white i.e. pro-this or anti-that. This mindset leaves little space for complex issues as you say, or paradoxes – and getting to the humanity of both people as you mention is beneficial. I really liked your closing line – that it’s our responsibility as Christians to display the love of Christ to both groups – there’s a lot of power there and recognition of each groups humanity and inherent human rights.

      • #3215
        Samuel Lowry
        Participant

        Hi Sarah, I totally agree with your comparison. We have so much pro-this and pro-that, that are the complete opposites and put as at odds with one another on a daily basis. I also agree that we need to demonstrate the love of Christ and be His representation on earth. Much easier said than done, however, it is what we are called to do. Like in the States, we need to do our due diligence understand beyond the conflict, understand the roots and consequences, and pray about it to make informed decisions that can help us move forward in a positive direction. Ultimately though, we need to stick to Jesus and let His Word guide us home. Thanks again for your thread post and perspective on this conflict.

      • #3465
        Anna Selzer
        Participant

        Hi Sarah,
        I agree with your assertion that in the US issues are often portrayed as black and white. It’s so important to remember that we are all created in the image of God. This is an extremely complex issue with two people groups that are deserving of dignity and cultural preservation. It’s absolutely necessary to see both groups as real people and not simply a problem to be solved.

    • #3075
      Christiana Gellert
      Participant

      The current nature of black and white tribal politics in the USA currently implies that supporting Israel prevents supporting Palestinians too, no? When I was a bit younger, before I understood my faith beyond a superficial level, I had no sympathy for the Palestinians. Later, I began to understand that they are a people made in the image and likeness of God, as we all are. They deserve the same rights and dignity as any other people so created. This shift began when I had a long conversation with a few Lebanese nationals in my area for academic reasons. They calmly and eloquently explained the harm done to their country and families (and others, including Palestine) by Israel- not in a big picture objective way, but narratives of what happened to their own and friends’ families as a result of Israeli action. Despite my clear Israel bias, they answered my questions in level tones and humbly- with way more grace than I myself had. Really got some gears turning for me.

    • #3109
      Benjamin Comire
      Participant

      After taking this course, I would respond that supporting Israel, in fact, is key to supporting Palestinians. Israel does more to advocate for the well-being of Palestinians than their Arab neighbors, and I support and encourage Israel’s efforts to work towards peace with Palestinians. The misguided thinking that supporting one side of this conflict means that I can’t support the other side as well is wrong. I am Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestine because both sides involve people who want peace, autonomy, security, prosperity, etc. It is unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority who do not want to work towards peace with Israel, yet pursing peace would be to the benefit of the Palestinian people. I support Israel because they are still pursing diplomatic, non-violent means towards peace in the region, and it is that determination for peace that allows Israel to advocate not only for Israelis but Palestinians as well. I will keep supporting Israel and the good work they do to move towards peace in the Near East.

      • #3116
        Tanner Hauck
        Participant

        Hey Benjamin, enjoy your insight in the first few sentences. By zooming out and shedding light on the external pressure from Arab neighbors would be highly effective. I also enjoyed your framing that both Israeli’s and Palestinian’s want the same thing – autonomy, security, prosperity, etc – this goes a long way in humanizing both sides involved in this conflict. Lastly, I might add that speaking to the average Israeli’s and Palestinian’s wants is a great way to cut through the politically charged noise and voices of extremists that are often publicized.

    • #3115
      Tanner Hauck
      Participant

      Yes, I’ve been told this before and also see this all-or-nothing framing in public spheres often as well. Any association with Israeli is seen as anti-Palestinian with no room for supporting both Israel and Palestine to exist. I think after taking this course I would respond to accusations like this by explaining how nuanced the conflict is and pointing people to the fact that moderate Palestinians and Israelis acknowledge the existence of each other but it’s the extremist views that get the most coverage and attention. I would continue to turn questions back on the individual making such accusations. I might ask what solutions they have in mind, often when forced to present a solution it’s discovered the accuser has not thought beyond surface level. I’ve asked this question before and it’s often met without a response or a response equivocal of “force all Israeli’s to leave the area” which is not a solution but just redistribution of the original problem. It’s such a nuanced issue, I think the best thing you can do when fielding an accusation is help the other person see the humanity in both sides.

    • #3213
      Samuel Lowry
      Participant

      I have never had an actual conversation about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I am very new to the topic of public policy and have not dived in, as a believer, into how this relates to my faith.

      After taking this course, especially after listening to the final session, I see the need of looking at the “big picture”, seeking peace efforts and being part of an active community that builds relationships and friendships. This really goes beyond just the need of resolving this conflict though. This applies in so many settings. As a marketplace leader, we need to stop talking about conflict resolution but taking actionable steps towards peace and strengthening friendships. Workplace culture will thrive or die based on the relationships created in an organization. As Christians, we need to initiate these relationships and desire to build connections that honor Christ, a cultivation of peace, love, compassion, grace and patience. Let’s do this!

    • #3227
      Sarah Valdez
      Participant

      Yes, as a person who has supported Israel and will continue to do so, it is very hard to hear that it would in some way prevent me from supporting the Palestines. I support people as people not where they come from or what they identify as. I believe as a Christian I should love everyone as Christ loves. In this particular course, I do appreciate the aspects that were discussed and the perspective of being compassionate toward both sides. It is a very complicated issue but knowing where the root of things started makes all the difference. Within the last few years I have lost friends over my political, faith and personal beliefs so responding to false accusations has been unfortunately a common occurrence. I know that deep down there is a person in search for the truth and with this I would offer a discussion to take place. I don’t think that forcing my opinion or belief helps at all, but asking the right questions and even digging deeper would present an opportunity to consider sides.

    • #3255
      Angel Fierro
      Participant

      My first encounter with this topic was in 2013, I was in my arabic lessons course taking a test on arab nations on a map. My professor was upset when I listed Israel instead of Palestine. He addressed me in front of the class and asked why would I write the name of a country that does not exist. I asked him to explain, and he ended the exam to later fill the rest of the class time with a lesson on palestinian history. I went to my dorm room confused, I called my pastor that night because I knew she was involved with Israel advocacy and she explained what I just experienced and how to be careful. I went back the next day to class and stayed quiet, then my professor handed me my exam sheet at the end and told us to all erase the name. I denied his request. He asked how did I feel about being rude and denying the existence of my classmates, some who were palestinians. I explained to him that understanding Israel is now a nation did not deny their exsistence nor did it stop the movement for a two state solution. I continued my courses under that professor for another year but only experienced hardship from my classmates and the language course club. My professor later on kept his opions to himself after watching his students harass me. He then addressed his class to stop their actions. And they did thankfully. Through that hardship I learned how to advocate and became involved in groups like CUFI on Campus. If this course existed during that time, maybe it could have helped me learn faster. I read so many books at that time and thankfully made kind friends who are muslim and agree to the notion of a two state solution. When facing accusations, I learned to be calm. You are facing an array of emotions that will not be ceased in one conversation but in multiple. You have to take the initiative to learn and help introduce your thoughts and perspective to people around you who hate israel. Your voice can change peoples thoughts and beliefs.

    • #3412
      Christina Sturgeon
      Participant

      I’ve been told that supporting the plight of the Palestinians means I cannot have sympathies for or support Israelis. (I’m still uncomfortable referring to Israel as a state that encompasses a variety of meanings/implications these days, so prefer to speak of the people who inhabit the land). I think it’s easy for those who haven’t been to Israel to stand at a distance and make broadstroke statements that ignore the intricacies and nuance. Rhetoric is a tool, often used to push agendas at the expense of another these days. Real friendships, although time consuming to make, are what will make a difference in the long haul. After conversations on the ground in Israel with people who espouse different viewpoints, I realized they had a personal focus/grievance as opposed to a grand religious or political issue with the conflict. For the Arab Christian who worked the concession stand at the Mt of Beatitudes, he despised the Jews who came to his family’s village in ’48 and shot his grandpa among others. For the Arab Christian student in Nazareth, it was his frustration with how everything about the Jewish culture just seemed “better.” For the Jewish high schools at a rehab house in Tiberias, one was surprised that I would spend free time with a local Arab because of the fistfight he got in with one in Jerusalem. These and so many more accounts come down to a personal tie to a sense of hurt. Hurt does not exist in silos. Similarly, support for that hurt cannot be contained to either one or the “other.” If we’re to truly understand, we need to consider both.

    • #3448
      David Ndayishimiye
      Participant

      There is a misconception about this issue that has been going on for a while. It is a fact that being Pro-Israel does not mean being against Palestine. Also, there is no post or article that I have seen saying otherwise in all organizations that I have been a part of. Being pro-Israel or being against antisemitism is not hate. A lot of peers who’ve had this mentality are either against Zionism or are unaware of what the situation is between these two countries. The next step would be to ask for facts. Many people saying this often have no facts to back their words. I believe that after analyzing the situation carefully, there is no way that you can completely be biased on one side. Hate is often an outcome of misinformation. Moreover, knowing the truth allows for better judgment. No better judgment leads to the extent of hate that Israel faces. In summary, I would recommend finding facts that are not biased, and visiting Israel is possible to see how half of the Palestinian population is thriving between the Mediterranean sea & the Jordan river.

    • #3463
      Anna Selzer
      Participant

      I haven’t specifically encountered this argument in my own life; however, I have heard such sentiments expressed generally. My response to this argument would be that support for Israel means wanting a free state in which the Jewish people have a right to live. This same idea is true for Palestinians. Every culture and people group has a right to remain in their own homeland. With an issue as polarizing as Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is easy for people on either side of the argument to assume that their viewpoint negates the opposing. When carefully considered and discussed with facts in mind and emotions aside, it is simpler to see Israelis and Palestinians as human beings, rather than people on either side of a political issue. This issue is often seen as black and white, but this is not the case.

    • #3492
      Angela Lingg
      Participant

      While I haven’t been told that in as many words, being pro-Israel or being pro-Palestine is often lumped together with being Republican or being Democrat (probably not a centrist Democrat, but a further left Democrat). As with everything related to partisan politics, it is a detriment to the U.S.’s involvement in Israel and Palestine to make support of one nation or the other a Republican or Democrat issue. This will lead to even greater instability in the region as American political parties gain and lose power. The goal of every good policy maker should be a fair outcome that results in peace and political stability for both nations. Regardless of whether someone is a Republican or Democrat, we should desire peace in the region and respect between the two groups. Understanding the greater Arab world’s role in the conflict helps me recognize that Palestine is often just as much a victim in the attacks and killings as the Jews. The Arab world is fighting a proxy battle through the Palestinians. Being pro-Palestinian doesn’t mean kicking the Jews out of Israel, but freeing the Palestinians from the Arab extremists that are preying on the region to inflict their hatred on the Jews. The Palestinians suffer for many crimes they did not commit.

    • #2533
      Katherine Zehnder
      Participant

      Hi Michael,

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I am sorry that you faced such blatant racism and bigotry.

      The Socratic approach is an excellent method to pushback against such claims. Often the people touting these claims have only surface level knowledge or only believe that because it’s what the hear from tv, friends, or parents. They have no real facts or knowledge to back up their beliefs and are often easily defeated or led to see the inaccuracies of their beliefs.

    • #2534
      Katherine Zehnder
      Participant

      Hi Taylor,

      I enjoyed your post! I agree that it is crucial to show compassion and understanding for both sides of the conflict, it is entirely possible to be either pro-Israel or pro-Palestine while still understanding the positions and beliefs of the opposing side, you may disagree with them, or agree with the other side more, however understanding their position is crucial for a variety of reasons. It is also important to remember that we are dealing with people, sometimes we forget our actions affect human lives, outside of the politics.

    • #2962
      Joshua Johnson
      Participant

      Hi Katelyn, thanks for sharing! I liked your point about how people might assume you have blind support for Israel, or think you don’t care for Palestinian people. I think this is such a common assumption, and it’s sad! I agree it’s definitely important to distinguish between the welfare of Palestinian people and Palestinian oversight or governance, just as we distinguish between American people and U.S. government. How come in the Middle East, much is conflated? People have a hard time distinguishing between the interests of Israeli citizens and Israeli government actions or policies. They are not the same, which we understand for our case, but suddenly when it comes to the Middle East, we assume it’s all the same, and we lump all Middle Easterners together as well. I think part of this has to do with the media, which due to time constraints, can only report on so much. They create straw men of both sides, which is quite wrong. I think the solution is education (the Philos Project!) to teach people the complexity and nuance of the situation! Arab Christians are not Arab Muslims are not Arabic-speaking Jews are not Syriac-speakers, etc. The full picture is much more rich, and there are hundreds of different groups with a stake involved!

    • #2603
      Jordan Leatherwood
      Participant

      John, it is so cool that you get to serve in that capacity for AIPAC. I am curious though. You talked about the community being heavily pro-Israel and not against a Palestine state. In my community, which is very heavily conservative, they either don’t know what is happening, or they only see the negative portrayals of Palestinians in certain media outlets. In your experience, did you have to persuade many people about the real facts of the conflict? If so, how did you go about it? It seems to me that the only way we can do this is by changing hearts and minds.

    • #2604
      Jordan Leatherwood
      Participant

      One of my main struggles with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that I agree there needs to be compassion and empathy for the Palestinians, but I don’t know what that looks like in a practical sense.

      I disagree with Palestine’s main demand of complete territorial control and not recognizing a Jewish State. If that is the case, what can I support them on?

      I suppose, and I will continue to act, the answer is advocacy. I can advocate for the rights and proper treatment of Palestinians. I can advocate for a two-state solution that will, hopefully, bring about some sort of peace between the two sides. Other than that, are there any ideas on how else we can support the Palestinian people?

    • #2625
      Carrie Coffman
      Participant

      Clay, I enjoyed reading your response. Blessed are the peacemakers – you are so right that we are in a unique position to serve in that capacity in regard to this conflict. I do agree that the instinct of many in the U.S. is to immediately (whether consciously or unconsciously) divide a conflict into two sides and force ourselves to choose between the two without acknowledging both. There must exist a solution that both parties can agree to without sacrificing one people group in order to support another.

    • #2932
      Austin Pellizzer
      Participant

      Hello Clay,

      Thank you for this interesting perspective. I’m surprised that you have never personally faced the idea of having to ‘choose’ one or the other when it comes to this conflict. Like in many other contentious topics in our time, the lack of nuance and balance often leads to the idea of collective thinking, which is one vs. the other. The Israeli-Arab conflict is no different. I think it is one of the most significant issues regarding education. The majority of the population knows little to nothing about it.

    • #3110
      Benjamin Comire
      Participant

      Thank you for sharing, Clay! I think you bring up a good point about how realistic solutions can be for each side. Specifically, the point you made about Palestinian land demands is important and good to recognize as it requires Israel to cease to exist, move over, and hand land over to Palestinians. If this demand is taken out of the realm of the unrealistic, however, then I am certain that peace could be reached between Palestinians and Israelis where each have land in the Holy Land, i.e. Israel where it is now and Palestine having the West Bank/Gaza.

    • #2624
      Carrie Coffman
      Participant

      Dylan, I think this is a spot-on summary of what has happened with this conflict and with so many external issues that are brought into the U.S. It’s easy for us to “westernize” the conflict and boil it all down to two opposing sides – if you support one, you must reject the other. Few things are as simple as that, and I do think you’re correct that much of the conflict has been oversimplified in the name of choosing a side and conforming that position to fit with what already exists in U.S. politics. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has many levels of significance that far too few people desire to truly understand before taking a position.

    • #2800

      Hi Ashley,

      This is a really interesting take – particularly your question of do we need to condone every step of action taken by someone just because they belong to the Jewish faith. I struggled with this too because while I understood the importance of supporting our Jewish brothers and sisters, there were times I found it difficult to support some of the actions they took during the conflict that led to bloodshed and the loss of innocent lives. How can I say that I love people if I turn a blind eye to the suffering of the Arab people and only focus on the suffering of the Jews? From a big picture perspective, I understand what Israel is doing and support their vision because of my biblical foundation. However, my heart hurts for all the suffering that I am seeing on BOTH sides. I also relate to you on the societal pressures to side with Palestine, especially as a person of color. This conflict is far more complex than the media and society make it out to be, especially considering the history behind the conflict, and picking one side is not the answer and neither is just staying neutral.

    • #2961
      Joshua Johnson
      Participant

      I agree. While no one has ever explicitly said that you can’t be a friend of Israel and of Palestinians, it seems to the implicit understanding, and to question that would seem to break some socio-ideological orthodoxy.

      I had a glimpse of this when I tried to organize a Jewish Orthodox speaker to come and speak at a local library about Israel and the Christian-Jewish relationship, and also to sell his wife’s beautiful religious art. While I had contacts at the library who were initially interested in hosting the event (including a Jewish one), the event was not brought to fruition during the date scheduled for it.
      I visited the library and was surprised to note that they had invited an Islamist author to speak on the same date as our planned event. While I knew nothing of the backstory behind that, it just seemed sad that they scheduled a contrary opinion on the same day as the pro-Israel event, indicating that such views are not compatible. This is just one example of such

    • #3048
      Sarah Weiskopf
      Participant

      Hi Tina! I absolutely loved the way that you focused on the power of the Gospel throughout your response. I agree that every person is created in the image of God, and that we should treat humanity as such. The conflict is so much more complex than people want to make it, with the Palestinians and Israelis both having a reason to want to live in the Holy Land. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • #3049
      Sarah Weiskopf
      Participant

      Hi Cristina! I loved how you brought up the point to simply have people do their own research, beyond an instagram post. I remember after my Passages trip, the people of Israel on both sides saying how American media tends to glorify the conflict in ways that really are not happening. Of course, the conflict is complex & there are individuals who are suffering from the conflict on both sides, but a lot of people’s opinions are derived from sources that don’t actually focus on the people there and how they are affected. Thank you for sharing!

    • #3072
      Christiana Gellert
      Participant

      Hi Cristina 🙂

      Last summer I felt the same way- it was very obvious who in my social circle was following the conflict purely from celebrity quote and quote influencers. Although, I do think there were some positive ramifications from vapid celebrity posts- after some friends reshared posts from Hollywood’s best geopolitical analysts (heavy sarcasm there :D) I found myself feeling extra motivated to do my own research, which I found to be quite difficult. There’s just so many layers of history and complexities, I got a bit overwhelmed and ultimately gave up on trying to have an informed viewpoint- until now, and here I am in Philos 🙂

      Hope to run into you soon 🙂

    • #3111
      Benjamin Comire
      Participant

      Thank you for sharing, Taylor! I think you are right that we must show support for both Palestinians and Israelis and do so in respectful and healthy ways. I commend you for your efforts to fight antisemitism through the events you held that involved Holocaust survivors speaking out about their experiences. These events needed to be held, and I think there are also meaningful ways to engage with Palestinian/Arab communities in ways that do not undermine or take away from the events you already did like hosting the talk with the Holocaust survivor.

    • #3229
      Sarah Valdez
      Participant

      Taylor, thank you for sharing. I really relate to your view on everything. I grew up very similar but after taking this course it makes me think of some great opportunities I have to grow in how I can relate or respond to others in this instance. I found this course very interesting and I want to continue to learn what to pray for and how I can do my part in it. Hearing from both sides I believe is probably the most effective and I do agree that growing in discernment is crucial.

    • #3230
      Sarah Valdez
      Participant

      I agree with you Collin, that in the political culture things seem to be very neutral. There is an unspoken kind of sense in that world where we need not to be involved but I think this is truly sad and unfortunate to believe that ignoring this will make it go away. Thank you for being strong in your stance but also showing kindness for the situation. There is a problem and we need to start somewhere in order to see how we can find a solution.

    • #3256
      Angel Fierro
      Participant

      Hi Michael,

      I experienced a similar event in my time as a college student. It was a wake up call for me to learn about the issue. It was not only the arabs, but even my professors for Abrahamic religions, a Jew also feeding this rhetoric that “brown kids” and even a “brown person like you” should know better than to support Israel. I think you are right on taking the action to just ask their reasoning and questions on what is the greater course of action. Learning where the main issue lies in that specific person can help you learn how to navigate the conversation and introduce your thoughts.

      angel

    • #3257
      Angel Fierro
      Participant

      I agree with your thoughts, learning about the history on the issue will help defend your stance. My minor was in Jewish Studies and the intensity of this conversation was strong back in 2013. I thought it was a issue that could be easily broken down, but there were many factors to consider. I started to lean toward my stance on a two state solution but even then looking at the aggression I worry about that solution if it were permanent. Studying history as well as studying the current culture can help us now when we engage in conversation.

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