Sunday, January 11, 2009

Seeing the Middle East from a Jewish Perspective

I know it is popular among many Christians today to openly decry the acts of Israel toward the Gaza, but I can't help but wonder if we have forgotten something about the past in being too quick to pick a side. This evening a couple visited church, and we discussed a afternoon they spent with Iraqi friends who told them they needed to pick a side to understand the issue of the Middle East's struggles. Is the Iraqi friend correct? I don't know.

This I do know, or I should say feel. I am of three main ancestral backgrounds: Primarily Welsh, then somewhere following Norwegian and Jewish. (Yet, I was never raised religiously Jewish, and do not have that background to attach to.) In the my Welsh ancestry I see similar yet less dramatic and tragic similarities to my Jewish heritage.

So tonight I heard this wonderful program on WBUR, an NPR station. It was a program presented at Boston University a week or so ago. I was driving home from church, and heard Elie Wiesel being introduced. I had to run in the house and listen to the program. To understand one perspective of the Middle East struggles, I recommend hearing this program which asks, "Can an Act of Revenge Be Just?"

Listen and go back to "Kristallnacht" The Night of Broken Glass.

More SynchroBlogs on Faith and Ethnicity:

Phil Wyman (That's me) on Seeing the Middle East from a Jewish Perspective
Joshua Jinno the Antechurch
Raffi Shahinian on Faith and Ethnicity: A True Story
Susan Barnes on Just a God of the West
K.W. Leslie on Why I went to an all-white church
Adam Gonnerman on Multicultural experience (and inexperience)
Matt Stone on Is the church ready for a multiethnic future?
Beth Patterson on Viva la particularities
Steve Hayes on Christianity and ethnicity"
Matthew Snyder asks What's Your Nation?
Jeff Goins on Gypsies in Spain


g13 said...

thanks for the recommendation. i heard a little bit of the program on my way home as well and will give it a fuller listen as soon as i have a chance.

the conflict in gaza is complicated and difficult to navigate. as for myself, i raise questions about the current conflict because of my concern for the palestinian christians who are currently living in a state of siege. if israel was hemmed in by adversarial neighbors and enduring the level of bombardment that gaza currently is, i would be just as concerned for them.

i also think that many young christians tend to question the activities of israel because our government, and many conservative churches, have explicitly endorsed all of israel's actions in the past (though, fortunately, not their recent plans to bomb iran) and, in the most extreme cases, have painted any critiques of israel as anti-semitic.

i know this is a complicated discussion, but just thought i would add my two cents.

Pastor Phil said...

If I was raised Jewish rather than having some unknown degree of Jewish ancestry, I would probably be extremely concerned about statements even as mild as yours here.

Why? Because I also know that the Gaza information is skewed by a number of factors. Muslim factions are driving the information we receive, and they quite frankly don't care about the Palestinian plight. If they did, they would have pressed Jordan a long time ago to become the Palestinian state it was meant to become. Extremists building bombs do so in houses among women and children purposely, and are increasingly utilizing those same innocents to build an army. These are just two variables which I find disconcerting and cause me to slouch away from Bethlehem (to use a bad sounding analogy.)

Like Iraq has become the place radicals run to fight the US. Gaza has become a place radicals run to destroy Israel. Wiesel's comments about Israel being a people without a place in WW2 dramatically communicates to this issue in Gaza, and the Middle East as a whole.

g13 said...

i agree that it is problematic that we do not have more (relatively) unbiased information flowing out of palestine. hopefully israel and egypt start allowing international observers and journalists into gaza soon.

Pastor Phil said...

That didn't work in Iraq. What would make it work in the far more complex Gaza strip?

I have never found enough unbiased independent reporters to make sense out of these situations. They enter the fray with their own agendas, and we tend to call people unbiased who agree with our positions, and others biased who disagree with our positions.

g13 said...

although the quality of reporting is at times suspect, more information is better than less. restricting access to reporters raises serious questions about a nation's actions.

of course, israel is not the only nation refusing access. egypt is not allowing much reporting either.

Steve Hayes said...

Aren't those Christians who defend the Israeli actions also being too quick to pick a side?

I don't think I'm qualified to pick a side, because neither side in this war has clean hands and a pure heart, and neither do I.

Remember Kristallnacht -- that sounds like a child who was unfairly beaten by a teacher at school with a cane and goes home after school and beats up his little brother who then kicks the dog.

We may be unjustly treated, but taking revenge for the illtreatment on someone else is no solution.

Pastor Phil said...

Hi Steve,

You may want to listen to Elie Wiesel before comparing Kristallnacht to a school teacher's rod.

I'm not sure ethnic cleansing, and misplaced corporal correction belong in the same sentence. My concern would be that making such a statement already appears to be choosing a side, or at least is perceived as doing so by those whose ancestry was nearly decimated by ethnic cleansing.

If there were no Jews after WWII I for one would not be here today.