Middle East Monday: SHOP PALESTINE

Wondering how you can support and encourage Palestinians during this time of war in Gaza?

Buy Palestinian goods.

There are many options out there. So, whether you’d like a new ceramic bowl, an olive wood carving, or some beautiful earrings to give a friend…

Check out the links below. Let me know what incredible items you purchase! 

Remember, when you buy from a place, you support its economy, when you support an economy, you support a nation – its people, its dreams, its destiny.

 

The Hadeel Organization

 

 

 

 

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World Religion Wednesday: Put aside religious background, wash some feet!

There is more happening in the Middle East than the media emphasizes. Calm down, center yourself, and really imagine what true peace and reconciliation could look like. NOTHING is impossible with God.

My Latest Ebook: “Grass, Trees, Sunshine: The Story of Jihad Ramadan”

I published another ebook today. This one is the life story of my friend Jihad Ramadan, a Palestinian living in Deheisheh Camp in Bethlehem, Palestinian Territories. His story is a snapshot of many Palestinian lives. My hope is that the book will raise awareness and love for the Palestinian people and Jihad too. The book is a quick read at 28 pages. Also, 50% of the profit goes directly to Jihad who dreams of building a home soon.

“Grass, Trees, Sunshine: The Story of Jihad Ramadan” is for sale on Amazon.com for $2.99.

Check it out and spread the word!

My EBOOK for sale!

First of all, this is not THE book I am working on – that book is a memoir. THIS is a compilation of my academic writings about the Middle East. Check it out! And be sure to tell your friends too! Enjoy. Preview it HERE.

Buy it on Amazon for $3.99 HERE.

The book is approximately 140 pages long (depends on the device you read it on). Here’s the Table of Contents:

Table of Contents

Preface

Chapter One

Issues in the Modern Middle East: Questions and Answers

Chapter Two

The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)

Chapter Three

Israel’s War of Independence

Chapter Four

Arab Nationalism

Chapter Five

Arab Regimes

Chapter Six

The Middle East in the Ottoman Empire

Chapter Seven

Snapshots of the Crusades: The Battle for the Holy Land

Chapter Eight

Afghanistan’s Taliban: A consideration of justice, injustice, & Christian response

Chapter Nine

Zionism: Zion is mmmmm . . . a lot of things

Chapter Ten

Jewish Thought and Practice: Rites Regarding Life and Death

Chapter Eleven

A Look at Christianity among Arabs in Israel

Chapter Twelve

The Islamic “Story of Jesus”

Closing Thoughts



Inviting Life to a Death Scene: the day four terrorists were killed and heaven reserved a place for me at the scene

Palestinians gather around a car where four Palestinian militants were killed by Israeli troops on March 12, 2008

On March 12, 2008 I had an appointment with death. What I mean is, I had a divine appointment scheduled, unbeknownst to me, at a murder scene.

It began with an appointment with a man who makes wooden crosses: a run-of-the-mill visit to Deheisheh, the largest refugee camp in Bethlehem.  At the time I was living in Bethlehem, Israel/Palestinian Territories. I went to meet my friend David and a local man to pick-up a handmade cross to be a prototype for a large order of other such crosses, made of olive wood by the man’s father to be sold overseas to help pay for medical expenses for his twenty-something son, a paraplegic after being shot by soldiers several years prior.

When I arrived I saw my friend, Shaadi, a Palestinian who often gives tours of the area to visitors. He was with two Iranian-Americans and preparing to go to Mar Saba (a monastery in the Judean wilderness outside of Bhem). He asked if I wanted to go. I did. So David and I went – postponing our meeting with the woodworker until that night.

After several hours at the monastery we returned to Bethlehem. It was shortly after 6pm. Shaadi got a phone call. Hot with distress he turned to us, “The IDF just killed four men in Bethlehem, in their car, they were wanted men.” David and I asked questions. The visitors waited. Shaadi said it just happened, just then, they were killed by a rocket his friend thought, one of the dead was a major Islamic Jihad leader in the West Bank — and Shaadi was going to the scene. “Do you want to go?”
Yeah. We do.

So, we did. Two American believers, two Iranian-American tourists, and two Palestinians (Shaadi and our taxi driver, Abed).

You want me to describe the scene; and I will BUT, see that:

1. God in His kindness and His omniscience brought me there – He placed some of His light in a very dark place.

2. It was an honor to be able to be there.

3. It was an honor to be with Bethlehem in an evening of highest turmoil and grief.

4. It was a turning point for me as well.

It was a small car – a red one, four door, maybe 20 years old. Hundreds of people rimmed it. Abed told me to stay close, and I did. He took me right up to the car, through the crowds of frozen electricity, like the stain a lightning bolt leaves in a stormy sky. The windows were crumpled, shattered under the onslaught of machine-gun fire. It wasn’t a rocket, as Shaadi’s friend supposed, it was a spray of bullets from a special unit of Israel Defense Forces, clothed as Palestinians, riding inconspicuously in a Bethlehem taxi. Reports said they attempted to arrest the four men (3 Islamic Jihad, 1 Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade). The most significant man, Shehadah, they wanted for 8 years. The four men, laden with weapons, fired on the IDF special forces when they attempted to arrest them, and the IDF immediately killed them all. The car itself made new clarity of “riddled with bullets.” Dozens of holes every where: each seat inside with its own red-red-red-red bullseye: four concentrated blood stains at each passenger’s chest-level, with the trails of helter-skelter bullets splayed around.

Weapons found on the men in the red car

(for video taken about 15 minutes before we arrived on the scene
(take note: blood and bodies)
http://israelmatzav.blogspot.com/2008/03/video-raw-car-swarm-in-bethlehem.html )

(for a news article on the event: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/125552)

“Faddal” (“please go ahead”) I said, moving back at one point to allow a boy, maybe ten, to slide past me – his hands gingerly touching the car as he squeezed by. His eyes surprised me. Not fear, not demand, but frankness. He wanted to see up-close.

I was suddenly tired, rigidly sad. I wanted all those kids to be protected from this. I wanted someone to take them home, to keep them from an impression of reality more likely to breed hatred than love. I wanted them to have Father God’s kingdom within them, to remove them from the competition of the kings and rulers of this world.

A wall of people my standing couch of false relaxation, I drifted toward those I came with. Shaadi was leading them back to the taxi. He jolted around, “Where’s Daaaaaw….?!” – the “n” swallowed by our eye contact. I smiled sincerely, “Thanks.” I knew he was looking out for me. In an ocean of mayhem, I appreciated it a lot.

Next stop: the hospital where the bodies were being taken.

I should add it worked out impeccably we happened to be in a cab with Palestinians when the news broke. It put us in-the-know and also gave us language and understanding of the event, plus the mobility to be dropped off right outside the hospital before Abed went to park the van. Also, it was amazing we “happened” to be tugged out of Bethlehem that day, particularly because the scene was 1/4 mile from my apartment and the circle of chaos and closed streets was encompassing.

Thousands of people swarmed the hospital’s front and back entrances.

Three corpses on stretchers were passed overhead, rafts on waves of sobriety and hysterics. The grand entrance of one body was buoyed by one incessant phrase and one volume: desperately loud.

“Allahu Akbar!”

(which means “Allah (God) is great!”)

Women wept. Weak-kneed boys and girls sobbed, held up by a friend in the same way a man with a broken ankle would be.
Family and friends of the dead.

My tears were already shed. Floodgates released at age 16. That evening I walked into the news coverage I watched for 12 years, the scenes which had once broken my own ability to stand. I was well-trained for the moment which drank me up that fated March Wednesday.

Glug glug glug drank up I was. I prayed. I watched. I slid through the tense multitude to get a better look at this and that. I prayed for kids I saw. I prayed and engaged with the crumbling women, the youth staggering into the ER screaming, “I’m not going to let this go! I’m going to do something to get back at them for this!”, the friends of mine I bumbled into that night (it seemed a large portion of Bethlehem was there), the ones who collapsed under the agony of sadness and were toted into the ER swollen with families, the speechless bystanders. I prayed and engaged with this little city of David, Bethlehem:
birthplace of
the Only One
who could ever turn
this tide of grief, revenge, and consummate oppression.

There is an oft-quoted verse in the book of Esther which says more about why I was at the hospital that dark night:
“And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”
Esther 4:14

After leaving the hospital, David and I filled a previous commitment to visit a family in the camp: the father in the family “happened”  to be the Minister of Labor in Bethlehem. Then we went to get the wooden cross and visit the woodworker’s family. Everyone was in a hubbub over the night’s events; and there we were, the hospital’s clamor still affecting our heartbeats; and our heartbeats still affecting the hospital’s clamor: our peace a holy residue of promise and hope.

for such a time as this.

for murder scenes and war zones, troubled neighborhoods and troubled neighbors,

for places in deep need, for people longing for hope,

for nations, for cities, for individuals,

for such a time as this.

We must not be afraid, but confident. We must not be afraid of “darkness”, but confident in who we are:

THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. The answer to the problem. The peace to the chaos. The hope to the hopeless.

We should rejoice when we get the privilege of being all these things,

whether at a crime scene in Bethlehem or a parking lot at the mall. Light belongs in darkness.

“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you,

that God is Light,

and in Him there is no darkness at all.”

John 1:5

You are the light of the world.

A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.

Instead they put it on its stand,

and it gives light to everyone in the house.”

Matthew 5:14-15

active / نشطة

“I have an idea”

“I have another idea”

And so Keyla’s* walking cadence blends with her thinking cadence and her rhythm of new ideas, always new, never old, comes and tells me (in Arabic – aren’t you glad I translated it for you?):

Keyla: Dawn, I have an idea.

me: yes, Keyla?

Keyla: You can stay in Bethlehem. Don’t move back to the US. Stay here.

me: (laughter) Thanks, Keyla, but God has said to go. I will miss you. And I’ll see you again.

Keyla: but even my mother cries when she thinks of you leaving. (pause) I have another idea.

me: yes?

Keyla: go to the US, get your husband, and bring him back here.

me: (chuckling) that’s a nice idea, Keyla, but I must go back for a time. I don’t know if I will live here again.

Keyla: but we will miss you so much. Who will dance with Jesus with us?

And so the conversation floats and glides each evening. For over a month I have walked three evenings weekly with three MBBs from a camp in Bethlehem. Keyla, Zaara, and Lydia. It is their initiative that established the habit. And it is a gorgeous time for discipleship as we walk up and down the hills of Beit Jala, through orchards and around wadis (empty river beds). They stop and pick figs, grapes, apricots, cucumbers, apples, plums, pears, sunflower seeds and the regular free bottle of water from the restaurant 2/3 up the mountain. We also gather spiritual tasty treats: Joseph’s overnight journey from the prison to the palace, what it means to wait on the Lord, how to maintain one’s peace, what to do about those who are violent against them, what GRACE is, and how we train our hearts to love EVERYONE just like Jesus did. Of course, the girls do not speak English so, I find myself getting a mental workout that exceeds the physical workout as I fold together Arabic sentences like an origami paper swan in my mind.

It’s amazing to see the way these women encounter Jesus. Since they are from a M family in a very M camp in an 80% M city amongst a 99% M people, they do not have a rubric for what walking with J looks like. They also are without a community of believers. Moreover, because of potential persecution, they remain low-key about their faith. ALSO, they are women and thus, they are their family’s honor – if they do something to dishonor their immediate family or their extended family their lives could be in danger.

One day I was gleefully dancing along our walking path, singing to my Beloved and they began laughing. “Who are you dancing with, Dawn?” “Jesus!” I shouted back. And thus, it began… they have all begun spontaneously dancing with Jesus as we walk and even after they return to their house. Zaara says any time she feels sad if she starts to dance with Jesus a huge smile comes on her face! And she remains happy. And when she sings praises to Him she feels His presence! haha! One day she said, “Dawn, I have a question.” “Yes?” I replied. “Whenever I go to a meeting and sing songs to Jesus, when I go home I can’t stop singing and often I wake up in the middle of the night singing songs to Jesus!” She looked at me expectantly. “Um, Zaara, what is the question?” I asked. “Why?” she said.

I grinned a cheshire grin and winked at the Holy Spirit. And thus began another talk about the Holy Spirit and the things He gives us. : )

I love these women. Every evening as we scale the hills, when they tire and I maintain steam, they say, “Dawn, you are ACTIVE!” haha! I suppose a more exact translation would be energetic, but active (نشطة) has a different connotation in Arabic. Yet, somehow the Holy Spirit stirs in me in the midst of their observation – the joy of the Lord is my strength! (Neh 4:12) Even physically as we scale large hills.

One day recently I suggested we replace our walk with a journey to King Herod’s summer palace, Herodian, about 30 minutes outside Bethlehem. The girls had never been. We had a joyous time! We even got to see the remains of Herod’s tomb which was discovered only two years ago! As we were atop the mountain, we spied an Israeli Army outpost with many tanks outside. The girls were intrigued. One of them blurted out, “I love the Jews!” And the others chimed in, “yes, Dawn says Jesus loves all the people so we must also. So, WE LOVE THE JEWS!” I was happy-struck! WOW! To think, when I picked up the girls at their house that day they were tired because they hadn’t slept much due to the Israeli Army barging into their neighbors’ house in the middle of the night and the confrontation that ensued. They said they were very scared, but nevertheless, later that day they were atop Herodian proclaiming their love for the Jews!

” For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier,

THE DIVIDING WALL of hostility,

by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.

For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”

Ephesians 2:14-18

From the Herodian we journeyed to Kheritoun – the largest cave system in all Israel/Palestine! It’s over 2 miles in length! After we poked inside one of the rooms the girls said, we should come back here again and sing worship song in English, Arabic, and HEBREW! (Mind you, the girls don’t speak Hebrew, but it’s remarkable to see the way reconciliation grows from their hearts!) They understand that, though it’s a hard call, they must love those their culture says are their “enemies.” They are living out a radical call to LOVE, to forgive, to approach those who have hurt them, and to sing praises to the Lord through a new river of unity!

I would say, that these women are ACTIVE! Active in love, in learning Jesus’ ways, in learning to calm themselves and listen to the Spirit despite what their environment says. And they are paving an irresistible revolution! They are forerunners! They are making the way for their entire camp and their entire people group to follow Jesus in passionate pursuit! It is a high honor to know them! I can hardly wait to see what the Lord does in them in the years to come! WOW! WOW! WOW!

* names have been changed