Amid Israel-Hamas Violence, Reconciliation Between Palestinian Christians and Messianic Jews Continues
As violence flares anew between Hamas and Israel, which is preparing for a ground invasion of Gaza in response to Hamas rocket attacks reaching as far as Tel Aviv, CT checked in with Jerusalem-based reconciliation ministry Musalaha for an update on reconciliation efforts between Palestinian Christians and Messianic Jews.
In 2009, CT reported how three weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting–which killed 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis–left Gaza's beleaguered Christians beginning 2009 in their worst situation since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. However, reconciliation work between Palestinian Christians and Messianic Jews continued.
Salim Munayer, executive director Musalaha, offered CT the following update on what, if anything, has changed since 2009:
What we see is that individuals who have been active in Musalaha for more than 2 years are writing statements to each other, such as the following:
"Brothers and sisters in Jesus, In this time of trials and tribulations, let us not lose sight of what Jesus came to the earth to teach us. And that is Love. The greatest power that conquers all. Only God's love can teach us how to love and forgive our enemies, even if they trample you under their feet. ... I pray that the Lord shows all of us what love really means through His eyes and that He brings comfort to those with shattered hearts. Much much LOVE to everyone!" – Deborah Holtz, Israeli participant
"Hi brothers from the other side of the wall, are we both doing the same mistake, by watching and listening to the media that is making us look only at our people? I hope not, for I have done that, and look at me making sure only my people are doing well and praying for them. For I am sorry that I am doing that, and I am sending the message over the walls with no rockets attached to tell you I pray for you and for the people in Israel and for you leaders as well and same for mine. Let's all step out for the light that we have needs to be shine in these dark moments. – Saleem Anfous, Palestinian participant
Our women's coordinator in the Palestinian Authority also wrote to her former classmates from the Tel Aviv University in Israel telling them she was praying for them.
We understand that this is another cycle of violence that doesn't solve the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. We see a difference between now and the reactions of people from 2009, including from our staff.
People are weary of the price on human life from both sides and the pain it causes. The escalation in violence only brings more pain, hurt and revenge, but people are aware of the ulterior motives in this new cycle of violence.
Many of our Israeli participants are living in areas where rockets are landing and many of our Palestinian participants have family members in Gaza so it is very personal and traumatic.
There is a sense in the country that we are stuck and that we are not moving forward. This is a time for us to bring a new paradigm for both the believing community of Palestinian Christians and Israeli Messianic Jews, and also the entire country. We hope and pray that people will listen and respond to this new paradigm.
Salim J. Munayer, Phd