Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Sadly Remembering Nakba Day

You may not know what “Nakba Day” means, but every adult Palestinian in the world does. “Nakba” is the Arabic word for “catastrophe," and every year Nakba Day commemorates the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian people, mostly after the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948.
The Facts
The geographical area known as Palestine was under the civil administration of Great Britain from 1920, soon after the end of WWI, until 70 years ago. That oversight of the Palestinian territory came to an end on May 14, 1948, and the State of Israel came into existence the next day.
Even though the creation of the modern nation of Israel had the approval of the United Nations and the support of the United States, it was strongly opposed by the Arab neighbors of the Palestinian people, whose land and houses were overtaken by the Jewish citizens of the new country.
Consequently, the First Arab-Israeli War began on that very same day 70 years ago, May 15, and lasted for almost ten months.
More than 700,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled from their homes just before and during that war. About the same number of Jews moved into Israel during the first three years following the birth of the new nation. 
The Struggle
The tension/animosity/fighting between the Palestinian people and the Jewish citizens of Israel has continued for a full 70 years now.
Without a doubt, Palestinians have instigated much of that violence, and the violent activities of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), founded in 1964 and operating mostly in the West Bank territory, and the similarly violent activities of Hamas, founded in 1987 and operating mostly in Gaza, are widely known.
However, the reason behind that violence has not been adequately acknowledged or elucidated by the U.S. news media.
Last week June and I watched the documentary “The Occupation of the American Mind” (2016), and I highly recommend it. (It is available, here, on YouTube.) That film depicts the U.S. news media’s woeful lack of adequate/fair explanation of the plight of the Palestinian people and of the attacks on their territory (especially Gaza) through the years—in 1967, 1982, 1993, 2008, 2012, and 2014.
The 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza was the last major clash, resulting in about 2,250 Gazans killed and over 10,600 wounded. The number of Israelis killed in that armed struggle was around 1/31 of the number of Palestinians (Gazans) killed.
The struggle continues—and the ratio of Palestinian deaths continues to be highly disproportionate. With no Israeli causalities, at least 60 Gazans have been shot and killed by Israeli soldiers in recent days.
The Future
It is hard to know what the future holds for the Palestinians. The move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem just yesterday does not portend well for a peaceful solution to the Palestinian problem.
Yet, there are people of good will, including Palestinian Christians, working for a peaceful solution to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the West Bank. One such Christian leader is Naim Stifan Ateek, and I highly recommend his book A Palestinian Theology of Liberation (2017), of which I wrote a review you can read here.
Also, the CPT [Christian Peacemaker Teams] Palestine is a faith-based organization that supports Palestinian-led, nonviolent, grassroots resistance to the Israeli occupation and the unjust structures that uphold it. By collaborating with local Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers and educating people in their home communities, they seek to help create a space for justice and peace.
These are just two examples of people/organizations working in non-violent ways for peace and justice in Palestine/Israel. May their tribe increase!


  1. Just after posting this article, I saw this related, and important, article from the Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/nothing-says-peace-like-58-dead-palestinians/2018/05/14/5e89fa9c-57bc-11e8-8836-a4a123c359ab_story.html?utm_term=.c8858606d45b&wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

  2. Thanks, for taking up the Palestinian cause. We’re nearly completely blind to this issue.

    1. Thanks, for reading and responding, Anton. It was good to hear from you again.

  3. Thank you, Leroy. In the last few years I've become friends with several Palestinian Christians and their stories shock me. One of my professors, Steve Harmon, shared this on facebook following a rather heated comment exchange yesterday, and I felt as if it was worth sharing:

    "Two theological thoughts for the morning: (1) Indictment of the injustices of Israel as a political entity ≠ antisemitism (see Amos, Isaiah, Hosea, Micah, etc.). (2) Follow-up to yesterday's post and comment thread: Whether or not dispensationalism qualifies as heresy or erroneous doctrine or not belonging to doctrinal orthodoxy, at the very least dispensationalism is really bad theology with really bad consequences for God’s world, even though it is often espoused, preached, and taught by good and godly people."

    1. Thanks for sharing your pertinent comments, Drew.

      Have you talked with your Palestinian Christians about Rev. Ateek and his work/writings? As I wrote in the article, I highly recommend his newest book, and I also am well impressed by what I have read of Sabeel, the organization he is the head of in Jerusalem. (See http://sabeel.org).

      The two issues that Dr. Harmon posted on Facebook this morning are both quite important and need wider discussion. (I am a FB friend of Steve, but I hadn't seen his post until you called it to my attention; thanks for doing that).

  4. Thinking Friend Eric Dollard in Chicago once again shares significant comments:

    "Thanks, Leroy, for your comments and the link to YouTube.

    "While I am certainly sympathetic to the Jewish desire for a government that will consistently speak up on behalf of Jews, Israel really needs to change its policies toward non-Jewish Palestinians. Unfortunately, the opportunity for a peaceful settlement is receding as Israel continues to build settlements in the West Bank. The Likud policy, though unstated publicly, has always been to eventually drive all non-Jewish Palestinians out of Palestine, including the West Bank. Many Jews in both Israel and elsewhere are deeply distressed by this policy, but the voices of moderation are not being heard on either side. (To be fair, it should be noted that many non-Jewish Palestinians want to drive all Jews out of Palestine.)

    "The movement of the U S embassy to Jerusalem is particularly ill-advised. It prevents the U S from acting as an unbiased arbiter in the conflict and further fuels hatred of the U S in the Islamic world."

    1. Thanks for your comments, Eric. I fully agree with what you wrote.

      Sadly, there are some/many Israeli Jews who want to drive all non-Jewish Palestinians out of Palestine as well as some/many Palestinians/Arabs who want to drive all Jews out of Palestine--or at the very least, out of all the land Palestine was promised by the U.N. and which they had until the 1967 war.

      Thankfully, there are both Jews/Israelis and Arabs/Palestinians who are eager to find a peaceful way toward co-existence--but it is sad that the number of such people seems to be so small.

  5. I am totally confused with this issue and especially viewing different views on different News organizations, and would like to pose a question mote than a comment.
    Since GOD is Love and the Jewish are His chosen people why don`t they show more Love to the Palestians? Jews are suppose to be smart and why aren`t they using a Better and more diplomatic approach to this problem.
    I just saw on TV this morning where more were killed trying to breach the border and then they went to PRAY and return to create more hostilities. Who do they Pray to and what do they Pray?
    Seems a little strange to me and I suppose I will get some varied responses?
    I think this is just another example why we cannot get alone with one another without JESUS!
    John(Tim) Carr

    1. John Tim, you raise important questions, to which I can only give insufficient responses.

      Love of enemies doesn't seem to be a strong emphasis of the Jewish religion of the past, although there are contemporary Jews who, based on the Old Testament prophets, do proclaim love and justice for all people.

      Perhaps many think that if God commanded the original land of Canaan to be taken by force and the inhabitants of the land killed, maybe that is the same thing God wants his chosen people to do now.

      Although, as I mention in my article, there are some Palestinian Christians and I don't know if any of them are engaged in the protests along the wall in Gaza. If most are Muslims, as they likely are, they pray to God using the name Allah. There are likely some imprecatory prayers, just as we find in some of the Jewish Psalms in the Old Testament. But perhaps most are praying for the siege of Gaza to be broken, the people freed/liberated from the strong-armed oppression by Israeli soldiers, and for justice implemented in their land. I certainly am not unsympathetic with their prayers of the latter kind.

    2. Good response and helps!
      John Tim

  6. About an hour ago I received an email from local Thinking Friend Marilyn Peot. She began,

    "Thank you! I just started THE LEMON TREE for the second time. Not only is it well researched over a ten year period, but it reads like a novel due to the real characters that the author got to know and whose story he follows. The author tells it as it is--and goes back to the beginning of this tragedy."

  7. The future is very difficult to predict - particularly in this part of the world. I was reading a piece of history on Sunday from about 3000 years ago about the King of Syria's war on Israel (has anything changed?). The trouble started about 2000 years before that when Canaan, son of Ham, decided to settle in the land of Shem.

    Histories and wars have effects which can rarely be undone, effects on the real lives of real people. In 1941 the Palestinians formed an alliance with the Nazis, as the Mufti of Jerusalem met with Hitler and Himmler. The purpose was the same, and was related to the Balfour Declaration by the British in WWI, granting a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. In 1967, Jordan joined with its Arab neighbors to irradicate the young state of Israel. They were completely trounced. The outcomes of wars have serious effects. I look back to the tribal was, and all of their histories going back centuries in the land where I was raised. Little has changed.

    The same can be said of our own country. Three of our Presidents set out to overrun and remove the indigenous people of the United States, and it Manifest Destiny (Jackson, Van Buren, Lincoln) - all were quite vicious in their ill-will. With a similar view of "justice", one must remember the Supreme Court decision of the Cherokee Nation v State of Georgia, in which the Cherokee prevailed and which has never been reversed. As Sen. Bloody Jim Lane of Kansas said, "To the victor goes the spoils."

    Histories are not pretty. Neither is the history of my own family of Huguenot refugees who fled the atrocities of Roman Catholic France to come an settle in this land. But then they helped to lead the rebellion of the Virginia Colony against the Crown within the first, and second generations here (the latter fighting with the Continental Army, including the final battle under Gen Washington at Yorktown - just 75 miles from his home.

    We should continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and for the tribal and religious wars all over the world. But also need to look pragmatically at the reality of picking up and carrying on. "Justice"?? What is justice outside of one's own opinion and view of history. Reconciliation? Maybe... but the Church has not done well with that in the Name of Christ - even with One Another, let alone with one's Enemy.

    (As a side note, this is just MY observation, and I do have good friends among Arabs, Jews, and so many others of various "tribes" around the world. I am cynical because of what I have seen in my lifetime, and multiple negative encounters with those of the "justice" movements who seek out trouble.) Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

  8. A while ago I was happy to receive the following email from local Thinking Friend Joseph Ndifor. Joseph lives here in Liberty (Mo.), but both he and his wife are from the Republic of Cameroon. (I post his comments with his permission.)

    "I must admit, of all your write-ups, this is one of the best. Why? Because it comes from a religious man, versed in theology whose mission, I've always believed, is to seek for justice for mankind around the world. The tragedy (which is no longer a rare occurrence) that befell Palestinians yesterday is a sad reminder of the injustice around the world. Thank you.

  9. Thinking Friend Glen Davis in Vancouver, Canada, sent the following email for posting here:

    "AMEN Leroy!

    "Thanks for shedding some light on the just struggle of the Palestinian people. Maybe next time you might talk about Israel’s willful failure to abide by multiple UN resolutions on the rights of Palestinians, the illegal expansion of Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, etc, etc."

  10. A Thinking Friend on the East Coast (of the U.S.) wrote that "the UN recommended the partition of Palestine into a Palestinian state and an Israeli state, so the UN didn’t really approve of the modern nation of Israel as it happened. Israel unilaterally declared independence which was then immediately supported by the US."

    In my response to him I wrote, "I wondered about saying that it had the approval of the UN, for of course you are right in saying that the UN recommended division into two states and not for Israel to create a new nation-state at the expense of the Palestinians. But it was the UN that approved the division of the land of Palestine into Israeli and Palestinian controlled sections, so while the UN may not have approved the way in which the modern nation of Israel was formed, it was complicit in its formation."

    Then the TF responded, "Since the UN added Israel as a member the next year, I guess they are complicit."

  11. We know what peace looks like there. It looks like Jimmy Carter, Menachem Begin, Anwar Sadat and Yasser Arafat doing the hard work of starting peace in 1979. What an opportunity was squandered. Israel thinks it can win it all, and with a big fan of Andrew Jackson now in the White House, perhaps it can. Woe on all of us when the mills of God finish grinding.

  12. This is from Thinking Friend Glenn Hinson, and I much appreciate him regularly commenting on my blog articles:

    "A very thoughtful view, Leroy. Living at Tantur [Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem] for five months in 1976 made me appreciative of the Palestinian viewpoint. A sherut (taxi) driven by an Arab Christian took our children to school every day. We see European and American hubris at work in favoritism to Israel.

    "In addition, dispensationalism drives support of a single state solution among 'evangelicals.' When David’s kingdom is restored, Jesus will return, their logic runs."

  13. And is there also a day that commemorates the thousand of Jews who were expelled from Arab countries immediately after the founding of Israel?