Olives for Hope

If the world is ever going to come to peace,
humanity can no longer be recognized 
on a case by case basis.


Let's start with Hello

Posted on August 26, 2011 at 10:25 PM

Yesterday the Grand Rapids Lite version of the Glen Beck Road Show came to town. It came complete with a brass band, “patriotic songs” and fawning politicians. The website describes it as:

“Restoring Courage US is a series of coordinated events in states across the country to highlight the courage of the Israeli people and spread their resilience across The United States of America”

I was there to pass out fliers for a conference about the Israeli / Palestinian conflict . After I finished passing out fliers I joined my friends that were protesting. One told me of a confrontation he had with a Christian Zionist. This person broke his sign and grabbed the fliers he was passing out, and then threw them away. This kind of behavior never ceases to dumbfound me. If you are so sure in your point of view, you do not need to shut down other views.

Afterwards I had dinner across the street with a friend. She is Palestinian from Ramle. She was an infant in 1948 when she and her family were forced to leave Palestine as the State of Israel was founded. The restaurant where we ate is owned by Palestinians.

As we were eating, the Rabbi, who moments before had railed about the need for unquestioning support of Israel, brought his family in for dinner. My friend challenged me to “stick it to him” and give him her flier about the occupation. I tried to explain to her that I am not really a stick it to him kinda gal. I think she was disappointed. Some people are good at direct confrontation, not me. I’m the person that will say “let me tell you a story”.

The Rabbi was there with his young daughter as well, and if there is one thing I understand about most fathers, it is you do not challenge them in front of their children. I do, however, want to tell him the story of the woman who had just served him. How what she heard him say created so much pain for her; How just minutes before she waited on him, she had tears in her eyes telling me some of her family’s story.

When dealing with the Israeli / Palestinian conflict I find there are three kinds of people. The choir are people who already believe what I believe. I don’t need to convince them, but it is good to spend time with them to recharge myself. The loyal opposition will never believe what I believe. Confronting them takes a certain personality and skills I do not possess. In my opinion, they are there so that we waste our time and energy. Their goal is that we never get to talking with the third group - Those that are their ‘soft’ supporters. These are the people most likely to notice when the things the loyalists say do not match reality. This is where the small cracks in their armor can be seen. But if you go at these people with full force confrontation, they will fortify that armor and move closer to the loyalists. Talking to these people is my strength because, while my heart breaks for Palestine, I also feel an honest compassion for Jewish Israelis, and yes, even the settlers. I have witnessed first hand how the children are trained to hate Palestinians and how they are manipulated by their government (“Forgive them, they know not what they do” ). Many really are desperate and damaged people. However, don't confuse that compassion for agreement.

Not only would “sticking it to him” not have worked, it wasn’t in my heart. Just like a baseball team has many different positions, so does this struggle. Some are great pitchers, others catchers and yet others are great fielders; and it is not necessarily a good idea to have your catcher pitch. To be the most effective member of this team I can be, I need to understand where my own skills lie and develop them., I am still, however, sad to have disappointed my friend.

So much can be healed in this world with just a start. Sure it’s messy - Sure it’s hard - especially after a long estrangement. But there was never anything, worth anything, that came easy. Whether it’s between two people or between nations, it has to start somewhere - so why don’t we just start with hello (let me tell you a story).

[Now, I think I have an email to write to a Rabbi….]


Categories: POV