Feb 3, 2009

Gaza: two sides to the issue

by Majda Othman

The recent conflict in Gaza has brought an immense amount of pain and suffering to both Israelis and Palestinians. The conflict has also perpetuated hostility among some Christians as they choose to declare sole loyalty to a particular people group. Some even express an unashamed loathing of the other side through forums, e-mails and content on Facebook.

While political ideology and theological disparity causes division, Christians are obligated to address these issues and question how to be a model of Jesus, as well as their role as Christians in times like this.

I am a born Muslim, raised in an Israeli society by a Christian foster mother who taught me about God’s promises to the Jewish people.

Having lived on both sides of the fence, it has been a challenge for
me to witness how engulfed Christians have become in their own community. It appears the church is too busy challenging the moral and ethical position of the other side that it has forgotten what the gospel of
Christ admonishes us to do. They only hear the news broadcasted from one particular viewpoint, so their ability to relate to another has become increasingly difficult.

The perception that people have on the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become simplified into a “Jewish people and God versus the enemy” paradigm. Many evangelicals have avoided the gray area by convincing themselves they know exactly who the enemy is and what must be done to them. This attitude has allowed for many Christians to demonize and dehumanize the person on the other side.

In many conflicts, Christians find themselves on opposite sides of the fence. We should be mindful that the blame and bitterness we consign to others falls second to the recognition of our own sinful nature. Before we preach about the other’s hatred, we must check our own hearts. Paul instructs us on how to treat one another in Romans 12: 9-21, “Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse… Do not repay anyone evil or evil… Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s
wrath… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

In my own experience, to love those who hurt and persecuted my family was and still remains difficult.I have had family members and friends killed or wounded on both sides. I personally witnessed the humiliation Palestinians feel while
crossing checkpoints to reach their homes, school or job. The beatings, killing of innocents, destruction of homes, collateral damage and racist policies of the Israeli government are facts that cannot be overlooked.

However, I have also witnessed firsthand the violence of terrorism inflicted on innocent men, women and children. At times it was
extremely difficult to resist the anger, bitterness and hatred as it quickly sprung up due to injustices occurring on both sides.

Nevertheless, I had to remember that in a worldthat preaches revenge, it was my duty as a Christian to stand in radical opposition to the sin of hatred that separates mankind from God and from each other.

As an Arab Christian, I urge you to remember that as Christians we of all people should not be permitted to dehumanize or demonize each other, as all are formed in the image of God. God loves and has a plan for both Jews and Arabs. As we seek to understand the redemptive purpose of both Jews and Arabs, we must continue to live according to the biblical mandate that destroys the dividing wall of hostilities between people groups.

Contact Majda Othman at

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