“How do you measure your success in a race?” I asked my friends. Their answers varied. One said, “When I break my own record,” and another, “When I beat others.” Yet others replied,“When I make it to the finish line.” It made me think more about our measure of success when it comes to what is, and what is not, considered a victory. In some ways, this can apply to individuals, groups or states.
Countries are concerned with success and they seek to be measured so that they too attain a victory. For example, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) was created to “help governments foster prosperity and fight poverty through economic growth and financial stability.” In order to do so, data is collected and then analyzed and presented for each country. The measure of success includes countries with the highest results; while the ones lagging behind are given recommendations how to improve their results. The same concept is reflected in racing. A runner practices and collects her results each time, then analyzes her strengths and weaknesses. She can excel more from an outside perspective, or a coach who can help with assessments, measuring where she stands.
As a Christian Palestinian living in Israel, watching what is happening in neighboring countries is difficult and painful. In a civil war, minorities are usually the most vulnerable and in the case of the Middle East, most of these minorities are Christian. As a Christian and as an Israeli Palestinian, I am conflicted by the way this situation is presented:
“Christians are safe here.” Or, “As Christians, we should be thankful because in a Jewish state we are protected from ISIS,” and “This is the only place in the Middle East not killing Christians.”
These are all true statements; however, they are not the whole truth. As a runner in a race, the measure of success is based on those ahead of you, and not with those who you have already beat. Our measure of success as Christian Palestinian Israelis was never about our immediate safety in the Middle East.
Christian Palestinians are suffering from a discriminatory system as non-Jews, and for us, the race has always been about equal rights in a democratic state. How are educational, economic, political and social gaps between the minorities and the majority going to be narrowed? For example, the Arab Follow-Up Committee held a recent non-violent demonstration in Tel Aviv, demanding allocations of land to Palestinian-Israeli cities and villages to allow them to accommodate their population’s natural growth. Currently Palestinian-Israeli cities and villages are overcrowded and new families have no room to live. This demonstration hardly got any attention in the news.
As Evangelicals, we are free to practice our faith here. However, in legal terms we are not recognized as a church entity. For the past several years, our Evangelical leadership has sought state -recognition of our minority religious status, but in spite of significant efforts, there has yet to be any progress. This is an issue that affects each Evangelical when it comes to their freedom of religious practice, marriage and death.
As in a race, we must look forward and seek to break our old record and not compare with those we have already overcome. Let’s keep the measure of success in mind: We call for equal rights as citizens in a democratic state. This is our finish line.