• OPINION \ May 11, 2021
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    How should followers of Christ respond to the current situation in Israel/Palestine? By Rev. Dr. Yohanna Katanacho
How should followers of Christ respond to the current situation in Israel/Palestine?
By Rev. Dr. Yohanna Katanacho


Let us first understand what is going on in Israel/Palestine today. Recently, tensions grew stronger and violence spread all over the country in different forms. Following are some of the potential reasons behind this wave of violence:
1. Sheikh Jarrah is a Palestinian neighborhood and is at the center of property disputes between Palestinians and Israeli Jews. Palestinian families at Sheikh Jarrah are under the threat of evictions.
2. We are at the end of Ramadan. The situation in Sheikh Jarrah created a tense atmosphere especially in light of restricting many Muslims from praying at the Dome of the Rock.
3. Many Jewish Settlers wanted to celebrate the day of Jerusalem in which Israeli Jews celebrate the unity of Jerusalem. This means that all of Jerusalem should be under Jewish control. A huge crowd of Jewish settlers under the protection of the Israeli army walk in the streets of Arab neighborhoods and celebrate these events in ways that are provocative to Palestinians.
4. Demonstrations erupted in Jerusalem in the area of the Dome of Rock. Several Palestinians were injured and some Jews were also injured. The demonstrations in a sensitive place provoked the anger of many crowds all over Israel. Several demonstrations started in different places. We have now more injuries.
5. Islamic movements in Gaza started launching dozens of rockets on Israel spreading panic and expressing their frustrations from a long siege. Israel responds with an iron fist. Dozens of Palestinian civilians are killed in the Gaza strip.
6. The general situation is bad. We have gone through a difficult time during the last year because of Covid-19. Israel cannot form a government due to a divided country. Palestinians are divided between the Gaza and the Ramallah leaderships. There is no hope for any peaceful political solutions.
In light of these realities, frustrations and violence are spreading like fire. Admittedly, I am guilty of over simplification as well as of using gentle language in order to minimize unnecessary provocations.
Now, let me go back to my initial question and provide some responses.
1. We should pray for the peace of Jerusalem and all of its inhabitants.
2. We should not justify destroying public property in the name of our right of demonstrating.
3. We could weep with those who are weeping regardless of their position. We empathize with all those who are suffering.
4. We could stand with the oppressed in peaceful ways, visiting them, empowering them to do what is right. This might involve supporting them in courts through legal procedures.
5. We could reflect on long term solutions and empower the leaders who can deliver such solutions. This includes doing our best to have the right governments in both Israel and Palestine especially in light of current opportunities for political change.
6. We could spread prophetic descriptions of the current reality spreading the love of God that pursues justice.
7. We could visit hurting people and pray for them in person. We could also issue statements to highlight our commitment to be salt and light in a country that is sick with hatred.
Last, regardless of your political position, please don’t justify killing your neighbor but learn from the prince of Peace who taught us how to love in difficult situations. Bless, pray, and do good to those who are different from you. Listen and be humble. Don’t jump to conclusions. Seek a long term solution that both Palestinian and Israeli Jews can live with. Seek this solution without losing your commitment to love or Justice. May the Lord help all of us and save Israel/Palestine from hate, bloodshed, and all forms of injustices.