Beautiful Resilience | Day 4

Words by: Joel Bear, Photographer

Photography by: Michael Matti, Photographer

Israel is marching forward. The Arab world is marching backwards. It’s not about a wall, a border or fence but coming to terms with Israel’s right to exists.
— Khaled Abu Toameh, Israeli Arab Journalist
Socality Israel - Day 6 - MichaelMatti-1.jpg

Dignity is the cry from both sides, the cry for the right to be heard. From the outside perspective of the news there's a solution to everything they see in the Middle East yet, from the voice of the people there's a constant problem longing to be solved. Some long to solve it, others deter the problem by perfection, yet it's both sides that need a savior.

Today we spent the day learning about the Israeli and Palestinian perspectives by venturing in Bethlehem, the Dead Sea and St. George's Monastery. All three have this in common, they are holding on to life.

The morning started off by hearing from Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab journalist living in Israel, speak about 'the situation' as he calls the conflict surrounding Israel. "Israel is marching forward. The Arab world is marching backwards. It's not about a wall, a border or fence but coming to terms with Israel's right to exists." With this there are two Palestinians perspectives on the Israeli occupation. The 'radicals' who believes that Israel doesn't exist and shouldn't exist and the 'moderate' camp, stating you must give us 100 percent of Israel and only 100 percent. One camp doesn't want to make peace, the other can't make peace.

With that view we stepped in the the bus and headed to Bethlehem, a city that has expectation. We met with Christian pastor Dr. Naim Khoury who teaches in a mostly Muslim city. He opened his talk sharing: "To be blessed you really need to bless my people Israel... as a Christian my life didn't belong to me, if I live I live, if I die I die"

"Only God, only God can keep his promises to us....It is God and only God who can prosper. God be the glory and God is able."

"You can't hate the Arabs and love the Jews nor hate the Jews and love the Arabs." When you love Arabs and bring them to the Lord, you help the Jews."

As he's speaking this, we sat in the church in which he has placed speaker on the steeple, to share the Sunday message that reaches out over the city of Bethlehem, a Muslim city. The Muslim religion sends their prayers out over the city over speakers five times a day and this brave pastor shares the love of Jesus to those who want his demise.

Our third perspective was that of a Palestinian refugee.  With incredible love in his eyes he opened his talk with the statement: "You have two options as a refugee either to side with the problem or to be the few and strive to be the solution."

There are humans on both sides of the wall. There are victims on the other side of the wall. Bombs know no race. There are many perspectives about the refugee crisis but to hear his heart of bringing change through love and education was inspiring.

As we left, our mind dwelling on all three perspectives, Jews, Muslims and Christian's, the defining fact was the love for the people. Do you believe that this person has dignity? Is this person a human? Such conflict, yet such love.

One government caring for both sides existence and the other government looking for ones extinction.

As we stepped into the Dead Sea one can only think of the bleakness of the situation, but as I looked around at the growth and vegetation of Israel, there was resonance and resilience that was beautiful, a love that was overwhelming and a passion for peace that was inspiring.