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.
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.