It's tense again in the Holy Land. Stabbings, stoning, shootings. There have been attacks on young families, mothers, children, soldiers, and fathers. There have been demonstrations and Palestinian kids and youth have been killed. It is scary, frustrating, and depressing.
Our prayers for peace, which we pray three times a day and together corporately in the synagogue every week, seem to have fallen to the ground. It feels as if we who work for peace are living in the myth of Sisyphus. We feel as though we have almost arrived, almost gotten there, and it unravels. It not only unravels, it gets worse.
Since I work with Jewish and Palestinian youth, those on the "other side" are not nameless, faceless entities. They are beloved students and they are scared and angry. They don't want to be afraid when they walk down the street or get on a bus, but both sides are afraid. Both sides are frustrated and both sides are angry.
Our soldiers are kids, often confronting angry mobs. Their demonstrators are also kids, who feel as if they have very little to lose.
The Palestinians ask, “When will the occupation end?” The Israelis ask, “When will the terror end?” Few are willing to look at the damage their own governments are doing. Few are willing to admit that neither the terror nor the settlement expansion and closures exist in a vacuum.
Due to social media, everyone says exactly what they feel, all the time and often without restraint. It is understandable. Everyone is nervous, and we have default reactions. We also have our narratives. We really believe that we are the victims, the righteous ones, and that our reactions are only natural, normal, and to be expected. Both sides feel this way. Both sides are convinced that this is "reality." This is "truth."
Thus, when I saw comments that I felt were completely one-sided (their sided) posted by someone I didn’t know on a friend's Facebook page, I, too, responded.
We began a dialogue, this person and I. We are both believers but our theologies are very different. He believes unabashedly in replacement theology. I most certainly do not.
In the course of our “conversation” we found out that we had mutual friends. We have, in fact, quite a few mutual friends. What I didn't know is that he has a sister and that this sister is a friend of mine. This woman is very sick and is being treated in a hospital in Israel. It is not possible for her family to visit her, since they live in the West Bank. There are closures and, particularly now with all the attacks, no one is allowed in.
What neither one of us knew when we began our conversation was that I had planned on seeing his sister in a day or so. I wanted badly to see her and wasn't sure how to do so. It turns out that God supernaturally/naturally provided a way. I had simply wanted to see a friend and the way was provided.
And, beside the point or maybe this is the point, I "met" her brother, and now he, too, is a “friend.” Or, if not a friend, someone who knows that this particular Jew is not a “land stealer” and an “occupier.” This Jew is a friend of his sister, a visitor of the sick, and a fellow believer.
You can't make this stuff up. And just when I thought that everything was in vain, all might be lost, and everything I had worked for will remain just out of reach, our faithful Lord not only provided me with a ride to the hospital, but an introduction to the brother of my friend.
It's very likely that this man will not change his opinion any time soon. It is also extremely unlikely that I will change mine. But our opinions, frankly, are not what matter. Neither do our definitions of truth and righteousness. What matters, and what has always mattered, is love. The greatest of these is, indeed, love. And love speaks louder than words. Love wins, every time.
Maybe it's not all for nothing after all.