Under the title : Why the “Reconciliation” Narrative is Racist"
, Rosh Pina Project Messianic Jewish Web site Posted on February 10, 2015 an article attacking the Lausanne Initiative of Reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis that Come and See Wrote about.
Palestinian Human Rights Lawyer Jonathan Kuttab who also chairs the Bethlehem Bible College Board wrote a response to the article and we bring it after the article:
Hereby is the article:
We read on Palestinian website Come And See:
Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians met together in Limassol, Cyprus, 26-30 January 2015 to discuss, pray and work towards reconciliation.
This, to be frank, is all you need to know about the conference, and its fundamentally racist assumption.
“Reconciliation” as envisaged by Lausanne is racist in essence, because it assumes that Israeli Jews and Palestinian Christians are not only so blinded by hatred and prejudice that they are incapable of being friends, but also that the only way that they can befriend each other is if they are “moderated” by a white, Western Christian.
The reconciliation narrative assumes the worst of every Jewish and Arab believer in the Holy Land. It automatically assumes that the default position of every Israeli and Palestinian believer in Christ, is hostility towards believers in their neighbouring nations.
“Reconciliation” according to this model, is Western evangelicals informing Israelis and Palestinians of a mutual loathing that neither were hitherto aware of, and attempting to remedy it via a public conference in the Mediterranean. This is theological quackery with a misleading diagnosis and a costly placebo.
For any genuine believer in Jesus Christ, you would think Jesus’ own words should carry great weight.
Jesus tells his followers not to do good deeds in order to be seen by men, because in that way they have already received their reward. Rather, Jesus suggested that good deeds should be done in private.
Yet “reconciliation” depends on a public showing of affection between Israeli and Palestinian believers, on a stage ,in front of others. Participants are generally encouraged to engage in overt displays of affection, in order to cause emotional reactions, photo opportunities, and great material for a press release.
All of this is for show – the exact opposite of what Jesus envisaged.
Palestinians being kind towards Israelis and vice versa ought not to even be considered newsworthy for believers. This attitude of brotherhood and affection is the natural default position for all those who have been reconciled to Christ, therefore Israeli and Palestinian believers have no need for the Orientalist assumptions that would tell them they are natural enemies.
Of course, Jews befriending Arabs as believers and vice versa should not even be seen as a “good deed”. You are friends with people because you like them, not because you are doing them a favour.
I have many Palestinian friends, and I hate to have to say that publicly, because having Palestinian friends ought not to be seen as a virtue. I am not friends with Palestinians because God commands me to be. Rather, God wants me to be happy, and I am a happiest when finding friends to spend time with. God happened to give me Palestinian friends, but that is just how life goes – it doesn’t make me into some kind of altruistic or virtuous hero; any more than they are for being friends with me.
I am friends with Palestinians because I genuinely like them as people; not because I feel obliged to like them as some kind of “enemy”, because of how others decide reading of the New Testament.
I’ve never met a Palestinian Christian that I didn’t automatically like; it would take something drastic for me to dislike a believer, such as overt dishonesty or support for terrorism – but that has not been my experience.
There will be other Palestinian Christians I don’t want to be friends with, and that’s nothing to feel guilty about – in exactly the same way I do not have the urge to be best friends with every Israeli Messianic Jew.
We are told to live quiet lives, and be on good terms with all men as far as it depends on us – but not to make overt and fake displays of friendships with people <
just because they are from a different nation that is not at peace with you.
Really, if it’s so difficult for you to be friends with people of different cultures or backgrounds from you, then that’s your problem. The rest of us will treat it as normal to have believing friends from different cultures, nations and traditions.
The “reconciliation” narrative dehumanises Palestinians and dehumanises Israelis. It wants us to stop being brothers in Christ first and foremost, and instead become walking caricatures of our own national identities.
It achieves precisely the opposire of what it professes to. It turns a brother whose friendliness makes my life easier and better into a series of obstacles for me to overcome.
We are being invited to become empty verssels for American and European prejudices to be poured into, rather than fully humans, so we can then be “reconciled” – the racist implication being that Israelis and Palestinians lack the basic social skills and morality to work out how to befriend each other naturally.
So if you’re Israeli and you want to be friends with a Palestinian – great! Be friends with him because you like him, not because you think you’re doing “reconciliation” with him and making God happy.
Just be friends, like a normal person would.
Don’t be weird and manipulative, only using your “friends” as public trophies to prove a theological point that they are great at “reconciliation”, hoping God will be pleased with you because you are trying really hard to be nice to people whom you have already judged by their nationality and not their personality.
An Arab Christian and a Messianic Jew hugging it out on a platform may be creepily pleasing to an audience hungry to see it, sending moderators into throes of ecstacy and emotion. But they are no more “loving” than the Arab Christian and the Messianic Jew who meet for a coffee whilst no-one is bothering them.
The Middle East is not a goldfish bowl for theologians to gawp into, and intercultural friendships need no permissions from international Christian bodies in order to thrive.
If you make fake foreign friends according to the “reconciliation” narrative, you will look insincere, and you will be perpetuating the racist stereotyping of Israeli and Palestinian believers, at the expense of true friendships between people from these two backgrounds.
Jonathan Kuttab's Response:
I actually agree with much of this article. “Reconciliation” activities are often fake, not only because they are mediated by outsiders, and place too much emphasis on public expressions of friendship ( hugging before cameras), but also for another reason not mentioned in the article: reconciliation activities often paper over real grievances and genuine conflicts between the parties. An Israeli Jew Messianic or otherwise, enjoys the privelages and status of a Jew in Israel or the occupied territories, often at the expense and to the detriment of a Palestinian Arab ( Christian or otherwise). That is a reality that leads to conflict, hostility and enmity. Reconciliation becomes a necessity and a blessed endeavor. The right to live in the land ( guaranteed to Jews, and denied to 2/3 of the Palestinians), ownership of land and access to public lands and resources, right to freedom of movement, self determination, and freedom generally, are only a few examples.
Christians on both sides of the conflict must struggle to keep their Christian identity above their national and tribal loyalty, and must seek also to conduct their activities in accordance with Christ,s commandments. That often requires that they be open to and involved in reconciliation activities whenever they can. For Palestinian Christians this is not easy, especially if the Messianic brother lives in a settlement or serves in the army of occupation, or otherwise actively participates in our oppression, but the task must be undertaken anyway
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