Palestinians in Israel are disappointed but are not surprised. The outcome of the current elections has been predicted in more than one way. The Israeli culture has been shifting towards right-wing parties for many years. Its vision is a Jewish state that is dominated by one language (Hebrew), one ethnicity (Jews), and a political vision rooted in exclusivism, discrimination, fear, and Jewish superiority. Within this reality, Palestinians in Israel have a serious tension with leadership.
First, we struggle with the Palestinian Israeli leadership. In the last election, all the Palestinian Israeli parties united under one umbrella and consequently received the support of the Palestinian Israeli population who dreamed of a state for all of its citizens. Although these leaders might agree on common political grounds they have serious differences in their convictions. They also have power struggles. Who should be the senior leader or the most prominent person in the group? These leaders wanted to be great. In the name of seeking the first seats they disagreed and failed to work together as one group. They should have listened to the wisdom of Christ who informed us that the way to greatness is to be a servant, not a master (cf. Matthew 20: 25 – 28). He warned us that seeking the chief seats, like the Pharisees, will result in divine woes (cf. Luke 11: 43). Honor is not about sitting in honor seats but about serving God as leaders who care especially for justice, righteousness, and all the marginalized groups. Unfortunately, we have a serious trust problem with our current Palestinian Israeli leadership.
Second, we struggle with most of the Jewish leaders who fail to provide an inclusive vision for all the inhabitants of the country and fail to build a future of peace. Their dominant vision is working on a strong Israeli army that seeks the best interest of Jews, not Israelis, and that implements a vision of subduing all non-Jewish neighbors or citizens. Unfortunately, this leadership is not investing sufficiently in transforming our society into a community of tolerance, equality, and diversity. The outcome of their vision is building intellectual walls and promoting ethnic hatred. They can really learn from the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. It is important to reflect on how we can build bridges rather than continue to build walls with our neighbors. The church is called to challenge a politics of hate and discrimination with a politics of love and with advocating a civilization rooted in justice, mercy, and equity.
Third, we struggle with Netanyahu. Admittedly, he is only one person but he represents a phenomenon in Israeli right-wing culture. Stated differently, we are not able to think creatively and find new solutions to old problems. We simply want someone who can maintain our power and dominance regardless of the long-term solutions. We are willing to tolerate a person charged with corruption simply because he can maintain our dominance and best interests. Integrity, high ethical standards, and the reputation of a good character are no longer significant in choosing our leaders. The Bible, however, informs us that when the righteous are in authority the people rejoice but when leaders with a bad character are ruling then the people will suffer (cf. Proverbs 29: 2).
Last, we continue to believe in divine sovereignty. God changes the times and seasons, he removes kings and sets up kings (Dan 2: 21). In such times, we need to insist on committing ourselves to prayer and godly actions. We need to lift our hearts to the Lord who can change the hearts of leaders and transform the destiny of nations. We need to work on advocating justice and righteousness from the perspective of biblical love. Only then we can continue to be light and salt in our country and around the world. Perhaps, many Palestinian Israelis have no political hope and are depressed but followers of Christ should always be energized by the hope of the resurrection. The resurrection of the Messiah is my justification for thanking him in all situations and for working diligently for the coming of the Kingdom of God here in Israel and in Palestine as well as in the rest of the world. May God grant all the Israeli leaders godly wisdom to lead the country to a godly future and a vision of justice, mercy, and love compatible with the vision of Christ who loves all of us without exception.