Reconciliation Resonates in Britain as Israeli, Palestinian and British Young Adults Meet

Reconciliation Resonates in Britain as Israeli, Palestinian and British Young Adults Meet

If this is the future, I am more confident.

Many look at the situation in our country and continue to ask if there is hope. What does our future look like? I see both hope and a future in our young people.

I have been actively working with Israeli and Palestinian women for many years. I have been sowing and planting with tears, sometimes frustration, but also with much joy when I see the fruits of our labor. Yet, this was the first time I was asked to lead a group of young adults on a cultural exchange with British young people. It was this trip that gave me a renewed vision of our work of reconciliation here at Musalaha.

A Prophetic Vision for Reconciliation amidst new Nation-State Law

A Prophetic Vision for Reconciliation amidst new Nation-State Law

Much has been written on the impact of the Jewish Nation-State law, passed by the Knesset only a few weeks ago. By defining the state of Israel as the “national home” of the Jewish people, the law declares that the right of self-determination within the State of Israel is exclusive to Jews only. Most popular criticism of the law has correctly stated that it compromises peace, democracy and equal rights for all Israeli citizens, and it has demoralized the non-Jewish segment of Israeli society. In particular, it has diminished legitimacy of the Palestinian people. The aim of this article, however, is to address how this law affects Christians in The Land alongside those of us working in reconciliation.  

Summer Camp: Little Feet Finding Higher Roads

Summer Camp: Little Feet Finding Higher Roads

During a blazing hot week beneath the Middle Eastern sun, we took a group of 75 kids on a journey “back to Egypt.” This was the theme for the first of our two summer camps that took place in Bethlehem and included Muslim and Christian children from the city and its surrounding villages.

Musalaha summer camps are in many ways like any other camp with teaching, crafts, games and so forth, but there is an important dimension that is unique to our camps. We deliberately seek to impart principles of reconciliation to our participants who represent communities across the divide. The demographic makeup of our camps includes people from the cities and villages, Christians from a wide spectrum of churches as well as Muslims. This year almost 50 percent of the participants were from Muslim backgrounds, and much of this had to do with the success of the camp the previous year.  

Inspiring Hope for the Future

Inspiring Hope for the Future

Last weekend, 45 women - Palestinian and Israeli, Arab and Jewish, Arabic and Hebrew speaking - gathered together in Nazareth to share stories, listen to one another, and to dream. These are women of different nations, races, and languages all united in their love for Jesus Christ and their burning desire for peace. The simple act of these women from the different sides gathering together in unity and love, is a tangible picture of peace.

Musalaha’s Women’s Narrative Training Conference began with conversations and fellowship, crafted to bring everyone together in shared laughter before diving into difficult subjects. After this, everyone walked to a nearby restaurant for dinner. Sharing food facilitates building community faster than anything, and this time was filled with meaningful connection. As the night ended, every woman was assigned a hotel room with a stranger. Though initially uncomfortable, this somewhat "forced intimacy" enabled inevitable friendships to be formed by morning.

The morning began with worship, which was perhaps one of the most powerful moments of the conference, as we sang praises to the Lord in English, Hebrew, and Arabic. All worshiped together in every language, and God understood each one! God is truly a God of all peoples and nations, of every race, tribe, and tongue, and these women are examples of that.

After worshiping together in unity, two brave women stepped up and shared their narratives with the group. First we heard the Israeli narrative, then the Palestinian. Each one presented the most common national narrative accepted by their communities and then added challenges to that narrative that are believed by many, but proven false. This allowed us all to take a breath and understand that no one is 100 percent correct and we can accept parts of the other's narrative without agreeing with all of it. Once we heard the two separate narratives, groups broke off to create new narratives. Each narrative is a shared vision for peace and a united future. While the new narratives were shared, the hope in the room was tangible as laughter and cheers filled the air.

When the conference was brought to a close, every woman returned to her own home with new friendships, a fresh perspective, a dream for the future, and hope in her heart.

The courage of these women who gathered together, to lay down their prejudices and preconceptions, to surrender their claim to victimhood or superiority, and to allow the other side a chance to be heard and to be understood was truly mind-blowing and encouraging. We admire their willingness to band together not only as Palestinians and Israelis, but as women of a united heavenly kingdom with a common mission to bring peace and reconciliation to God’s people. Despite their differences and grievances, we believe their presence here is a powerful step towards peace. Despite the separate and different narratives in which each woman lives, we all have a common narrative. Israeli or Palestinian are only temporary labels for we are all one nation in Christ. These women are united in an eternal narrative of unity and peace in Jesus Christ. These women are kingdom carriers and kingdom builders. These women are change generators. These women are peacemakers. These women inspire hope for a future.       

Written by our Interns

Trinity Western University   

Swords in our Garden: Yom haZikaron Alternative Memorial Review

Swords in our Garden: Yom haZikaron Alternative Memorial Review

“They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord (Isaiah 2:4-5, NIV).”

Too often, prophetic strategies are tamed into romantic ideals, effectively absolving us of responsibility. Too often, rather than implementing Isaiah 2 into our surrounding reality, we reduce it to comforting platitudes, or—ironically—weaponise it in reference to those we deem uncooperative.
 
This was not so the night of April 17th, where over 7,000 people gathered in Tel Aviv for a joint memorial ceremony and inclusive alternative to the national holiday Yom haZikaron. It was the 13th annual event of its nature, inviting bereaved Palestinians and Israelis to commemorate their losses side by side.

Applying Musalaha's Model in the UK

Applying Musalaha's Model in the UK

A friend of mine, Rev. Phil Rawlings recently sent me his thesis, Beyond Dialogue - An Exploration of the Musalaha: Curriculum of Reconciliation model of interfaith dialogue with relevance for the UK context. Phil is the Director of the Manchester Centre for the Study of Christianity and Islam at the Nazarene Theological College in Manchester, UK.  He will be receiving his doctorate this fall for this work.

Following his frustration in working with various models of interfaith engagement, several years ago Phil adopted Musalaha’s model of reconciliation and applied the Six Stages of Reconciliation to interfaith groups in the UK. As a part of his work, Rawlings initiated meetings among three focus groups that were an integral part of his research and findings. The Priests-Imams group in Oldham, the Oldham Catalyst Group --- a group that brought young adults from the major faiths to engage in an interfaith leadership program, and the Turkish Hizmet - a Dialogue Society group consisting of Muslims and Christians.

Jeremiah and the King

Jeremiah and the King

This weekend Jewish people around the world will commemorate the Exodus from Egypt as they gather together for Passover, while Christians will celebrate the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. In both of these narratives, the political leaders (Pharoah and Pontius Pilate), were instrumental in these significant historical events.

Today, our media is obsessed with reporting about our political leaders because many believe these leaders will greatly influence our history.

Many believers often claim that our political leaders have a special destiny in our history because God appointed them. They will be quick to quote passages from Romans 13 about being “subject [submissive] to governing authorities” who are placed in their position by God. These same people then claim that because these verses tell us to submit to our leaders, we should do so without questioning their authority or actions.

Jeremiah's Warning of False Prophets

Jeremiah's Warning of False Prophets

In the last few years, with the increase in political turmoil, there has been a rise in the number of people who profess to be prophets and claim that they predicted political events. Many times their prophecies do not reflect God’s attitude of how to treat the weak, marginalized or our enemy. As a result, we are often asked by people about various prophecies and what is our position.

In this short reflection, I do not want to enter into a debate or discussion on various prophecies, but draw your attention to Biblical passages related to true and false prophets.

 

Light in the Darkness

Light in the Darkness

On a rainy afternoon in Jerusalem, fifty-seven women arrive at Tantur Ecumenical Institute, seeking reconciliation against the odds.  Despite common faith in Jesus, the group is far from ordinary---composed of Palestinian Israelis, Jewish Israelis, and Palestinian women living in the Palestinian Authority.

Recent political activity tried to exacerbate the distance between these communities; so everyone who walks through the door is performing an act of courage, vulnerability, and gentle defiance against stereotypes. Still, each person carries a unique set of expectations or doubts.

Lines to Cross: Youth, Identity, and Reconciliation

Lines to Cross: Youth, Identity, and Reconciliation

A patchwork of mismatched, ambitious youth step off the bus into an enclosed garden in Ness Ammim, Israel. We have twenty-seven hours to cross a line that no one names, but everyone can immediately feel.

It is a time and space just for 33 Israeli and Palestinian young people. It is not a group of people meeting for the first time, but instead, teenagers who have known each other from childhood through their participation in Musalaha's Children’s Summer Camps.  Musalaha’s reconciliation training on identity is not for the faint of heart. It is challenging, emotional, and comprehensive.