This is an interesting topic that I questioned a while back. After my Passages trip, I was able to see and view both sides of the conflict but was also able to spend valuable time in the Holy Land of Israel. When I came back to New York, several people asked me why I appeared Pro-Israel, and if it meant that I was not Pro-Palestine. The conversation at hand is much bigger than just hiding behind a Pro-Something Flag. I learned through out these audios that is so important to take into consideration each narrative of the past and current story. In my eyes, we need to view everyone as a creation of God. There will be strife, there will be conflict, but it is our job as Stewards of Christ, to uphold His standards and exhibit his viewpoints in a world filled with conflicting opinions. Our God is a God of peace, not confusion. He stands for justice. He has the final say. Thank you Jesus for being the final decision maker!
Having gotenlightened about theis war and it’s history ,I realize many people have different understanding of the same content outthere. Many support a side die to their judgement without looking on the other side of coin. Being a Christian,would stand to side with Israel having been taught the roots of it’s faith. But i credit the Oslo Accords where respect and recognizing each other was tabled. God is for us all,to my judgement ,this would be the best if everyone would recognize the other and allow peaceful settlement. In the bible,some of the Jewish practices were condemned but that doesn’t take away the fact that they have a god side of them and practice. The other side of the coin should be considered too. For this reason,Neutrality -as one Roberts stated conquers it all in respect to my understanding and judgement. Because this couldn’t even be ruled out as an apetheid back then by UN, meaning it can be solved by Salon accords to my understanding.
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!
The bible gets it clear to never judge and always be just. Many people have fallen on their side of choice and they are right to their assessment. Yes,as a Christian ,I would automatically side with Israel considering my truth and faith. But as I dug deeper to know about the Oslo accords,I realize it’s better to recognize eachother for peaceful living .We have the same reater,we must spread love if we are to harvest souls to our side. In same way,racism is condemned by the bible we all read. Jesus died for all,as many people suffer this in different countries,it looks improper ,just as Jews were killing Israelites and isolating them,God never did this as He sent His son to die for our sins. For this I stand to the reality that each side of the coin needs to be checked before ruling out anything and above all, unity and love wins it all
I don’t think I’ve ever been explicitly told that you must either be pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian; however, I do think that as a country, America tends to think that way. This kind of thinking is divisive and unproductive. This kind of thinking is also encouraged by political figures and growing divisiveness on social media. That to support one side is to be against the other.
I will say that I do think it impossible to agree with the Palestinian complete territorial demand and also agree with the establishment of a Jewish state in those same lands. However, I don’t think this should stop us from supporting both sides to find a good solution.
We cannot ignore either side of this conflict because to do so would leave a large group of people unheard in exile, so we must take time to be peacemakers in a land without peace. We must find a solution where people of different beliefs can live side-by-side.
I’m in the same boat with never explicitly being told to pick a side but have the pressure to do so put on regardless.
I think support of a 2 state solution is much more prominent than radicals (on both sides) will let on. I agree in that we should strive to not choose a course that completely alienates rational thinkers of either party.
Thanks for contributing to this question. I really enjoyed your thoughts. As someone who has Jewish friends with deep Israel ties, I have been able to hear firsthand the thoughts of people who are deeply tied to the issue. It seems that many people on both sides share similar thoughts to yours. It can be said that those who suggest that it’s a “choose Israel or Palestine” issue are perpetuating the hate that is already splitting them apart. Thanks again for sharing.
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?
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.
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.
Although no one has ever told me to my face that supporting Israel prevents me from supporting Palestinians, I have definitely felt this when talking to my peers at the university. I was talking with an international student from the UAE on campus and I asked her if she plans on going to TLV now that there is a direct flight. She was hesitant to answer because this is new and though she is curious and all for the travel she explained that there is still tension in the newly formed relationship with Israel. In her hesitation, she mentions the Palestinian people and the displacement of land. The other day I meet up with another student on campus, he was telling me about his experience living in Jordan two summers ago. We started discussing the Palestinian people- I am listening to his perspective on the Palestinian refugees and their status in Jordan, a lot of the things that he shared, I didn’t know about. He was very passionate and sympathizes with the people and I understand his position because I know what it’s like to go and see for yourself and draw conclusions from your own experiences and create space in your heart for new people and cultures. In both of these interactions I responded differently and I believe that it is important to acknowledge different perspectives and experiences as well as recognize who you are talking to. I shared my own experience and living in Jerusalem and the Hebrew University with my new friend from the UAE. I shared with her a conversation that I had with some Arab students at HUJI and they talked about how oftentimes it isn’t until they start the UNI that they become friends and or interact and collaborate with others that are different than them both ethnically and religiously and I said it’s like us- she’s a Muslim and I am a Christian and here we are having meaningful conversations and learning from each other. With the other student, who was also a Christian, I was able to share my faith story. I shared how God enhanced my faith and share about Christian Jewish roots. I strongly believe that the Lord opens doors of opportunity for us to share and he is faithful to give us the right words when we need them if we let him move freely through us. There is so much more I want to say but I leave you with always respond in love because we never know what God is doing in the background apart from this moment, especially in the uncomfortable and hard conversations.
Thank you for your testimony. I think it’s great how you experienced cultural diversity. It is good and a great opportunity that the university offers openness to exchange and to experience ethical, cultural, and religious diversity. Is the exchange deliberately promoted by the professors, or is it left to the students? I find it very valuable to be a bridge-builder and a peacemaker
I remember one positive and one negative influence in Israel’s recent history: There were indeed Arabs who accepted the Jews. Emir Faisal fought with his Arab soldiers along with the Jews, on the British side, against the Ottomans in WWI. He was promised an Arab state, promises that the western powers didn’t keep… During WWII, Nazi influence was very strong among some Palestinian Arabs, and this influence is still very strong in the Arab world.
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
I’ve never been told verbatim that supporting Israel prevents me from supporting Palestinians but I think anyone on social media last summer could tell you that was implied by the sheer number of celebrities painting Israel as evil aggressors and Palestinians as poor victims. Ironically, none of the celebrities who posted in support of Palestine would be accepted by a predominantly Muslim country governed under Sharia of any shape of form.
Though it may seem crass, in my personal situation, I would challenge those acquaintances who get their news off an instagram highlight to simply do their own research on the matter. I think many people’s hearts are in the right place- especially when infographics tell you the situation is a parallel to the US’s civil rights movement, but having your heart in the right place is no substitution for actually reading up on the history of the conflict.
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!
Yes this occurred most prominently for me during my freshman year of high school while discussing the conflict with a friend from my World History class. He asserted that Israel seeks to harm “brown kids like me” and that even though I am a person with Latino heritage my support for Israel invalidates any sympathy I may have for the Palestinian people. Putting aside the obviously ludicrous allegations made against the Jewish State, I think the incident was starkly revealing because it demonstrates the anti-Israel crowd views the conflict in entirely binary terms. Either you support the Palestinian people and therefore every action promoted by their terrible leadership or you are pro-Israel and therefore opposed not only to the leadership but to the welfare of the Palestinian people. How I responded then to my friend may not have been the most charitable reply, but having encountered these views again in college I would respond now by asking a few questions-including whether they believe it possible to support the common good of a people but oppose their leaders’ actions and whether they may see how any future plan to benefit the Palestinian people requires the support of the State of Israel. I would see how to proceed further after listening to the responses I received.
Thank you for sharing your experiences with bias and preconceived notions about “what side you should take”. People are notorious for making these bold comparisons and trying to pigeonhole people based on their background. I think that you made the right choice. There is a huge difference between caring for the welfare of the Palestinian people and supporting their leadership- this is an important delineation to make when talking with others about the conflict.
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.
I enjoyed taking this course with you all and am looking forward to engaging more with your posts! From my personal experience, I was never told that supporting Israel prevented me from supporting Palestinians until I became involved in the pro-Israel space at the University of Florida. Growing up, I always understood that it was important to support Israel, not at the expense of the Palestinian people, but at times without fully regarding the Palestinians and their unique struggles and undeniable right to their own self determination. When I attended college, I started a Christians United for Israel chapter on my campus, where I hosted a Holocaust survivor to speak out against rising antisemitism and the threats this evil poses. Although this event was extremely well received on my campus, the more I advocated for Israel, the greater the pushback I received. For instance, one event my chapter hosted was to raise funds for Save A Child’s Heart, a nonprofit that provides life-saving heart surgery to children across the Middle East. Unfortunately, members of certain student groups on campus claimed that our advocacy demonstrated that we favored Israelis over Palestinians. After taking this course, I would state that it is crucial to show compassion and inclusion for the concerns of both Israelis and Palestinians while listening directly to individuals from both sides of the conflict.
I have been told that there is no opportunity for a two-state solution and that I have a clear bias toward being pro-Israel. Because my introductions to the pro-Israel sphere were through Gators for Israel and AIPAC I think that on-campus there wasn’t any major pushback until I rose to a position of authority in Gators for Israel. In this role, people assumed I didn’t care for Palestinians and had blind support for Israel. I think the biggest advantage to having spent so much time in this advocacy space is being able to effectively talk about the difference between the Palestinian people and their welfare and the political leadership of the Palestinian territories. That is the biggest point that I would address.
Thanks for participating in this discussion. I think it’s great that you were able to connect with people so closely involved in the issue through your collegiate extracurriculars. I have been fortunate to have friends very familiar with the situation too, and they’ve shared similar sentiments. The people of Palestine deserve to have their well-being be looked out for as well. The turbulence in the area deserves to have the same type of Hebraic leadership covered in the previous course.
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.
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!
As an undergraduate, I had the opportunity to be a campus liaison for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Though the community was heavily populated by pro-Israel individuals, the vast majority of folks were not against the Palestinian state. I shared the same sentiment. To know the Israeli-Palestinian issue, one has to know the actors and faiths that are involved. Meaning, it’s not just a black or white issue. Palestine is unique in that it is not formally seen as a sovereign state by the whole world, has boundaries split by an acknowledged nation, and is led by a split type of national leadership that does not govern the same. The better-known leadership of the Palestinian people is controlled by a terrorist organization called Hamas. Unfortunately, this is not known enough for people to see Palestine as not an opponent of Israel. Rather, it’s a community that needs the support of the only non-Arab state in the region.
John, what an awesome opportunity serving in that position and thank you for sharing your perspective! It is interesting to see how the majority of Pro-Israel leaning individuals are not dismissive of the rights of the Palestinian people. I wish this was more represented by media and known in our society. It’s also important to note, as you touch on, that supporting the Palestinian people is different from supporting a radical group like Hamas.
This is the rub, isn’t it? The current leadership of the Palestinian people is problematic from a political and national security perspective. This is especially true since some of these groups seek the clear destruction of the Israeli people. I appreciate your perspective on the issue and sympathize. It is definitely not a black and white issue and issues of faith, history, and ideology complicate the situation. I often feel this is one of those situations where I must turn to the Lord for guidance.
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.
While I have never been directly told that my support for the Israeli state precludes my support for Palestine or for its people, I think the culture certainly supposed this. This was perhaps especially true in the political culture, where, sadly, support for Israel and support for Palestine seems to have taken on a semi-partisan character. Indeed, I have noticed that support for Israel tends to be associated with American conservatism and support for Palestine with American progressivism. Of course, these are not determinative associations (there are conservatives who do not support Israel, just as there are leftists who do), but the mere fact of the binary has led many to assume that those who tend to emphasize support for one side in the conflict do not care about the other side. But this is not true – in affirming that the state of Israel should exist, I am hardly saying that the Palestinians do not deserve the right to self-determination or security.
Collin, you make a very good point regarding the partisan nature of Israel/Palestine support in America and it has seemed to become even more divided along political lines in recent years. It can be a hard climate to navigate as Christians. Following Christ, we will never fit neatly in the political party boxes of America. We are called to show compassion to all, regardless of nationality and must strive for peaceful solutions that guarantee both peoples the right to a land they call home, a place full of history, culture, and heritage.
Every March or so at the University of Texas, a pro-Israel student group throws a large event celebrating Israeli culture and relations with the United States. At the same time, every year, a larger group of students gathers in the name of the Palestinians to protest the event, to remind the rest of us that Israel is an “apartheid state.” Their slogans grow more virulent every year. This past March, one enthusiast carried a sign that read “to support Israel is to support a new Holocaust.” To these sorts, really nothing in public can be said to sway their opinions. They’ve been red pilled it seems. Speaking with less ardent believers, however, I would gently remind them of the origins of Israel. Most forget that the Nazis were not the first in Christian Europe to persecute the Jews, but only the most dramatic. A simple reminder of history, shorn of theological arguments which will do little to sway secularists in the West who support Palestine, may help do the trick.
Do you attend UT? I’m from New Braunfels, just 50 minutes south of Austin! It does not surprise me at all that there would be a protest group present. One thing I do not understand is your red-pill comment. Do you mean the protestors? Although the issue should not be partisan, I believe Republicans are more likely to be Pro-Israel than Democrats so that’s where I am a little confused with the red pill statement.
As a students studying Global Affairs and Arabic at GMU, I have been told that I cannot support Israel and Palestine at the same time. I have many friends from the Middle East who have grown up and been taught to hold strong views of dislike of Israel. I have been told I cannot support Israel since it is an apartheid state oppressing the Palestinians, something they characterize as inherently evil. Furthermore, Arab Christian friends have told me I cannot support Israel as a Christian, since Israel has persecuted Palestinian Christian communities. It is a complex and difficult issue and my first response is we can’t describe everything as clearly black and white. Issues are often far more nuanced than some activists’ slogans would make it seem. This course has shown me that learning the history behind such conflict is vital, as well as having a zoomed-out perspective. This must be considered in retrospect to surrounding conflict in the region.
I think that viewpoint was implied by nearly every single person in faith and politics on the Right that I heard from growing up. As an adult thinking about it myself, I found it so bizarre, especially after being educated in the school of thought of Personalism. I also found it bizarre being of Arab ancestry myself, seeing just how much implicit anti-Arab sentiment there was both when it came to talk of Israel and just anything else in the Middle East, like the Iraq War or Syrian refugees. After taking this course, I would go about responding to false accusation like this by saying what they are, exaggerated positions that fail to account for the complexity of reality – a reality that includes the human dignity of both Jews and Palestinians alike. I would say that every human being is created in the image of God and deserves respect, as well as ever human person should have some sort of say in their government. It seems strange that anyone who is a patriotic American could be unsympathetic toward consent of the governed and political self-determination for either Jews or Palestinians. Don’t we as Americans believe that to be the God-given entitlement of every human being in any political society?
I sometimes wonder if the simplistic understanding is a product of a general polarization on this issue. It feels like the American left and right have an increasingly simplistic and disparate understanding of the situation based upon ideological soundbites. However, the problem might also be trying to inculcate a basic understanding of a complex issue among people who are generally removed from it. While working in Greece with refugees, many Afghans wondered why it took them so long to be processed by the Greek authorities. However, the Greek government had only a handful of legally trained officials who could speak Faris and process immigration paperwork. Worse, the EU was very slow in offering legal support via trained lawyers. While the Greek government and the EU could have done a much better job, part of the problem of the logistical challenges was beyond the comprehension of the average refugee and, worse, not explained to them. In this situation, people were directly affected by these problems they did not understand and they still failed to grasp the situation. What about someone who lives in Alaska and goes about their daily life without ever setting foot outside the US?
Growing up I was one of those people who felt you had to be pro-Israel at the expense of empathy for the challenges faced by the Palestinians. My opinion on the subject changed with time, gaining increased knowledge of the history of the Near East, and having personal interactions with people on both sides. While I don’t know how to solve the situation (In the words of Socrates “I neither know nor think I know”) I can say with certainty that expressing empathy or support for Isreal can not prevent you also from doing the same with the Palestinian side. The challenges and problems faced by the Palestinians are often quite real. The dislocation and social trauma caused by the various conflicts and social policies are real, despite any extenuating circumstances and ongoing debates regarding the exact origins of these challenges. What is important to remember is they are just as human as any Israeli is. Having empathy for suffering people does not equal endorsing extreme policies and terrorist groups. However, empathy is one virtue that must be held in the same hand as reason and logic. Perhaps only then could we see the situation clearly.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hi Esther, interesting points you bring up, especially as you define yourself to be Jewish. I agree that there has to be a middle ground both parties are willing to meet at. I also appreciate your honesty with being biased. It is unrealistic and complex to not be biased in a world where we stem from cultures, and groups. I believe that God gives us discernment and wisdom to move forward when it comes to complex decisions such as these. Peace is great, but I also believe that true piece will only be achieved when Christ returns. I am not saying that we should not strive to invite peace, but I take joy that Christ is the Perfecter of our Faith and Author of our Salvation.
This response is awesome. “Both people can and should live in this land.” Hearing the perspective of a Jew on this course was interesting, and I hope we get to talk about it more. I like that you refuse to see the conflict as one-sided or over-simplified, but instead, see the conflict as a complex problem needing a complex but inclusive solution.
I like that you also take the advice of the instructor by embracing your bias, but also still try to see the conflict without bias.
I really support your approach to addressing this awkward conversation. You have a very unique and valuable viewpoint as someone who is Jewish approaching this topic. I think you make a very important point in addressing your bias but approaching convention without trying to alienate either party. Addressing the complexity of the problem is essential to having a productive conversation about supporting Israelis and Palestinians.
Hi Hunter, Thank you for discussing the importance of compassion and diligence in engaging in sensitive discussions such as these. No matter what is said or what side is taken, someone will always be hurt. As you encouraged, I think it is pertinent that one’s words and viewpoints are infiltrated with the power of empathy, compassion, and patience. Being Pro one side does not equate to be anti-another side. I am looking forward to seeing how these courses can further teach us how to engage in conversations with peers.
I agree with a lot of the strategy you laid out here! A two-state solution seems like the right call. If the interlocutor thinks that such a solution necessitates not supporting Palestine, then we must ask ourselves whether their support for Palestine, in their mind, precludes support for Israel? It would seem to be the case. It would then be necessary to pin them down on why exactly they think the Israeli state ought not exist. Having compassion is key not only for having a difficult conversation, but also for deriving a solution. If we cannot have compassion for both sides, then we should rethink our involvement in the conflict.
I also had a similar experience in this course in that I started bias to the pro-Isreal side, but this course has tought me more about the Palestinian side. Right now, I’m asking myself tough questions like “Does Isreal have more of a right to the land than the Palestinians?” I think the answer to this question is more complicated than a yes/no, and involves us supporting both sides of the conflict.
I appreciated reading your post and believe you demonstrated why it is essential to not accept positions toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without first engaging with those connected to it and doing our own research. I completely understand what you mean about the conflict between Israel and Hamas this past summer consuming all aspects of our media. We witnessed influencers and celebrities, some with millions of followers, sharing with their audiences extremely biased and harmful information on the conflict. Because of this, a large part of the war took place online. I am so glad that you took the initiative to understand the complexities of the conflict and how to help promote peace throughout this program!
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.
I enjoyed taking the time to read your post! I believe you did an excellent job highlighting why it is so critical to be careful before accepting such statements. After all, the Middle East is incredibly complex, and it is dangerous to support any narrative that promotes such extremes. I personally, especially in Christian circles, have felt compelled to support Israel, not necessarily at the expense of supporting Palestinians, but more so without taking the time to consider the Palestinian people and the struggles they undoubtedly face. However, when I went to college, I felt like it was far more controversial to support Israel, where standing with the Jewish state was seen by many as rejecting the rights of the Palestinian people to their own self determination. I think this demonstrates why it is crucial to be careful about accepting certain stances without engaging from those directly connected to the conflict.
Hey Ashley, I appreciate you noting the societal pressure to conform to a solely pro-Palestinian narrative. This can be very hard to navigate especially when people start drawing generalizations and saying that you must be pro-Palestinian if you are x,y, or z. I think the biggest point is to draw a difference between supporting the Palestinian people and supporting the ruling parties in the Palestinian territories.
I never realized until now that the polarization over the Israel-Palestine conflict stems in part from a bad bully/sympathetic victim dichotomy. It’s understandable, but still a shame that Westerners would revert to imposing frameworks from our history (e.g., civil rights) on a conflict that has both much deeper, ancient roots and also much more recent, 19th/20th century era catalysts. I’m afraid this approach to the Middle East obscures the subtleties of the situation and makes it more difficult to find a solution.
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.
That question – “Does Isreal have more of a right to the land than the Palestinians?” – has made me wonder about the principles behind land ownership and national sovereignty. How do we decide who has a right to the land in general? If we say Israel has a right to the land because it’s their historic homeland, what would result from applying that principle more broadly? At what point does someone’s right expire – and at what point do the Israelis currently living on the land outweigh the claims of the Palestines who lived there a hundred years ago? It seems a difficult problem to resolve in the abstract.