October 30, 2009
Every Passover, the Jewish people remember God’s deliverance from the oppression they suffered under Egypt. Jews recount how in every generation someone had sought to kill them as a people, but it was God who delivered them, leading them back into the Promised Land after two thousand years just like he had done in the past. For two thousand years they have longed for the land of our ancestors and they have returned to a land without a people for a people without a land- forgetting, however, that over 700,000 people had lived there for centuries.
Every May, the Palestinian people remember a different type of exodus, not one of deliverance, but one of displacement as they were forced from their homes in a land where they had a rich historical and religious connection. They strongly proclaim their continuous presence, enduring occupations from the Crusaders and Ottomans to the Israelis. “We are oppressed and we bear no responsibility for any of our circumstances.”
Both Israelis and Palestinians have their own interpretation of oppression and history as each has a nationally defined historical narrative. And, so, 28 Israelis and Palestinians at the Young Adult Follow-Up Conference learned, analyzed and challenged their own historical narratives this past October 4-5. The experimental, and very relevant, conference proved to be one of the deepest and most intense of Musalaha’s conferences.
In order to frame the discussions of the next two days, Musalaha Director Salim Munayer presented a concept of ‘narrative,’ a word which has been used to mean both history and propaganda. Historical narrative expresses a people’s past and also points to a vision of the future, providing identity through relation to a shared story. Narratives, or stories, create meaning and healing when they are open to change and new perspectives. However, narratives can be, and are, distorted in order to justify conflict and to breed exclusivity because history is not a concrete, static entity with only one undisputed version; it is rather an interweaving and oftentimes contradicting pattern of connected narratives. All stories have at least two sides, and history is no different. Everything is unavoidably told through a specific voice coming from a specific person with a specific worldview. The way to achieve some balance is to tell two different narratives together and allow them to be informed and to inform the other, to add and subtract and to make whole.
Only through a changed understanding of our own narratives in the light of another story can true reconciliation, and therefore transformation, occur, both on a personal and societal level. Palestinian participant Fuad was particularly affected by the close juxtaposition of two opposing views: “At times when the Israeli narrative was being talked about I was sitting there with my teeth clenched and, you know, getting angry thinking ‘This is not true!’ And then when the Palestinian narrative was being presented I saw some of the Israelis doing the same thing. I think if you brought a group of Palestinians and Israelis off the street to have this talk, there would be chairs flying.”
In the midst of heated debates about identities we must remember that in order for us to find our identity we must first lose it. Everyone met together at the conference because they share a commitment to a redemptive narrative about a kingdom, a way, a banquet table where there is neither male nor female, rich nor poor, Israeli nor Palestinian.
By Jonathan McRay
Young Adult Follow-up
We would like to thank everyone who prayed for this emotionally intense weekend of discussing the Israeli and Palestinian narratives. The Lord truly blessed this event, providing opening and understanding between the participants as well as strengthened relationships. These young adults are slowly moving forward in their own personal journeys of reconciliation.
Women’s National Conference
We ask that you uplift our women as they attend one of the annual women’s conferences November 19-21 at Kibbutz Almog. They will receive teaching on the difficult topic of forgiveness and the detrimental effects of unforgiveness. Pray for them that God would bless their time together and that it would move them one step closer to becoming true reconcilers in their communities. Please pray that all of our Palestinian women receive the necessary permissions to attend this conference.
Salim will be traveling to the United States in San Francisco, Denver and Chicago from January 22 through February 1, 2010. From February 14-21 Salim will be in Ohio, Canada and North Carolina. To receive a schedule of exact times and places where he will be speaking, please contact us, HYPERLINK "mailto:[email protected]" [email protected]
As our organization is growing so are our needs for space. We are seeking the Lord’s guidance on which building to rent or should he open the doors, to purchase a facility. This building would allow us the room for our growing staff needs as well as a conference center for our groups who come for lectures. Please pray with us that God would lead us in the right direction.
Contributions to Musalaha can be sent to Musalaha directly, or to the following organizations in the USA and Europe. Please write the checks to the name of the organization (e.g. The Andrew Christian Trust), and in a letter designate the funds to Musalaha.
P.O. Box 52110
P.O. Box 238
Medina, WA 98039-0238
Tax ID # 91-1960797
CH – 4153 Reinach
PC – Kto. – 40-33695-4
D – 79541 Loerrach
Sparkasse Loerrach (BLZ 68350048)
The Andrew Christian Trust
Rockwood, Storth Road
Cumbria LA7 7PH
Registered Charity Number: 327845
3780 BA Voorthuizen