Why Palestine?

Recently this blog began dedicating a regular column to the Israeli/Palestinian situation – its conflicts, its history, and most importantly, its people.

Why write about Palestine on a blog about forced migration? They seem pretty settled, with homes and jobs. The Palestinian experience usually looks nothing like that of women in the Congo, fleeing for their lives into other countries. It looks nothing like the imprisoned millions forced into hard labor in North Korea, or the 27 million slaves being traded like cheap beads around the world.

Why as someone with Jewish heritage, from a Messianic Christian home, would I want to discuss their plight as though they are the victims somehow? When now and throughout history certain individuals, organizations, nations, and ideologies want to see the earth rid of all Jewish people?

For a blog about forced migration and the longing for home, the Palestinian people are very important. Writing about their situation regularly serves as a reminder that, according to most human rights and refugee organizations, Palestine holds the oldest and one of the largest refugee populations in the world. The West Bank has 19 official refugee camps and the Gaza Strip has 8. These numbers don’t include camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

In addition, Israel and Palestine represent a place that billions of people relate to as both a homeland and eternal home: Jerusalem. The Jordan. The Promised Land. Zion.

And home is a very important thing to a refugee.

Refugees in Galilee, 1948

To be sure, certain Palestinian individuals and groups have done terrible things, but that is for another blog. Most Palestinians are simply caught in a horrible situation.

For many Palestinians, electricity, food and water can be hard to come by. Resources are tightly controlled and day-to-day life is dangerous and difficult.

But their plight is not the first time a large ethnic group has been marginalized in the Holy Land. And I would not be the first Jew to raise awareness on their behalf.

Not so long ago, another Jew went out of his way to cross into hated Samaria and make buddies with an unfaithful lady. A hated sin from a hated gender from a hated ethnic group that practiced a hated religion.

One thing is certain: if that same Jew were walking the Holy Land today, he would be sitting at wells with Palestinians. And they would like him a lot – we know, because many Palestinians are Christians.

Why Palestine? Why write about it, study its history, hear from its people, enter its discourse, feel its pain? For everyone who believes that the Holy Land might be, in some way, holy, the question should be phrased “why would we not?”

Jesus would ask that question today – if he could get through the security checkpoint.

3 Responses to “Why Palestine?”
  1. Darrell says:

    Palestine and the Palestinian people are very important and not just because they have been reduced to refugee status. As I’ve said before, they are basically prisoners of war except without the normal courtesies afforded actual POW’s.
    Consider reading Edwin Black’s book “Transfer Agreement” in which he attempts to explain an agreement between Hitler and some of the Zionists at that time.

  2. bobm says:

    I have an Israeli-American acquaintance who was born in Basra, Iraq. His father was a university professor there. They were Mizrahi Jews, whose ancestors had lived in Mesopotamia for at least 15 centuries.

    In 1948, his father was imprisoned for the crime of being a Jew living in a “Muslim” country. Any possessions of value were seized, and the rest of his family (or at least the survivors) were expelled from Iraq with whatever clothing they could carry, and couldn’t slow down until they reached an Israeli refugee camp.

    So I suppose things cut both ways… ain’t no good guys sometimes.

    They and hundreds of thousands of other Asiatic Jews (and later African Jews) were assimilated into Israel. I can’t help but notice a peculiar asymmetry, however: there never seemed to be a welcome mat in surrounding states for Arabs who left Israel, even in what was then the part of Jordan known as the West Bank.

  3. Mary says:

    Catching up on reading, and wanted to say, “Thank you!”

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