Middle East Monday: Some Good News from Israel and Palestine
Among the awful happenings, there is goodness.
Check THIS OUT!
Middle East Monday II: Resist the urge to pick a side
Before you feel obliged to pick a side, consider that killing people is not okay, regardless of who is doing it. Get above the spin, and smartly believe for the strengths of each people to shine and for compassion, humility, and vision to let love lead.
My friend Ana wrote this as she gave the link to the article below:
It sounds a little hypocritical and ironic to say, “Don’t believe everything you read,” before posting something for you to read. But I find it disconcerting to see how many posts are going up in defense of one people group over another…about how one group is being underservedly tortured by the villain on the other side of the wall.
Rockets and murder and hate are not games. That’s for sure. But spreading fear and or hatred does not bring peace. The truth is, there are massive wrongs being committed on both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. There are mourning mothers and ridged corpses of boys and girls whose futures were stolen from them. On both sides. And it’s been going on for years.
No story you hear from this conflict and current war will be unbiased. Whether it’s from a local Palestinian, Israeli, or foreigner (who might assure you of his/her keen insight into the matter). That’s not a bad thing, but it’s a fact we must grapple with as we sift through the emotional stories and news coming from this terrible, growing tragedy.
As one of those foreigners who, self-admittedly, has a bit of a chip on my shoulder about Middle Eastern topics and current events, I urge you to remember that where there is pain on one side of the wall, there is undoubtedly a well-matched grief on the other side.
Pray for peace. For Jerusalem. For Gaza. For mankind. We sure do need a fresh dose of it.
Middle East Monday: The Kani Shaie Archaeological Project – Biblical Archaeology Society
One delicious summer, I was part of an archaeological dig at Bethsaida in Israel. It was fascinating. There is an incredible amount of effort, expertise, and care that goes into a dig. Here’s a wonderful window into a very relevant, groundbreaking dig:
The Kani Shaie Archaeological Project – Biblical Archaeology Society
Middle East Monday: Shiites Indians assist Iraqis
In an interesting example of aid from outside Iraq, Shiite Indians are offering to aid Shiite Iraqis in resistance against ISIS. Read about it here.
Middle East Monday: How powerful is YOUR passport?
I lived in Israel and the Palestinian Territories for three years: 2006-2009. I knew there was a global inequity regarding the utility of certain passports. I knew mine was more of a door-opener than many. This reality was made painfully obvious by the restrictions placed upon the Palestinians I lived amongst. Most of them were unable to LEAVE the Palestinian Territories at all. They couldn’t go into Israel proper, they couldn’t get visas to other nations, and this greatly influenced their worldview, their concept of identity, and their sense of injustice.
Likewise, when I was in Baghdad in 2011, I talked with a number of people with a similar problem. However, for many of them, it was a matter of emigration. They wanted to leave Baghdad and they could not get a visa etc to do so. Thus, they were stuck in a war zone. That is absolutely awful. Can you imagine the sense of powerlessness, desperation, and hopelessness one might feel? Daily, friends and family are dying from acts of war and terrorism. You worry about your family, your kids’ safety, and your family’s income in the state of national instability. Not only that, you are exhausted from the daily journey of normal activities which could find you unwittingly at a bomb site, harmed or even dead. That is a very rough life.
Ironically, the following infographic doesn’t represent the Palestinian Territories! That is a further indicator of the lack of awareness about the issues therein.
So, wherever you are from, be thankful for the mobility you have – even if it is limited. Moreover, open your mind to have more compassion and understanding for those who are without some of the simple options you take for granted.
ALSO, what are you going to do with YOUR passport? It’s a key, you know. A key to new places, new spaces, new faces. It’s a courier train, taking your ideas from your norm to someone else’s norm. It’s a library that flies. It’s a thing of wonder, possibility, and beauty.
It’s a pass to other ports. Enjoy it. 🙂
Middle East Monday: When Loving Your Enemies is Loud
Home. Peace. Feeling nestled in.
These are common desires. However, there are areas of the world where this idea of “home” is less established than hearts would like it to be. One such place is the Palestinian territories. I lived in Israel and Palestine for three years. Stories and snapshots, longings and prayers, activism and belief build bridges from dreams to reality. Awareness is important.
With specific regard to the Tent of Nations, I’ve met some of this family. They are kind, just, and visionary. Their experience should be shared- in hopes that influencers will change the direction of their imminent loss. You can be part of the solution. Spread the word.
Tent of Nations on Upworthy
Middle East Monday: Eric Metaxas interviews the “Vicar of Baghdad,” Canon Andrew White. – YouTube
Andrew White is a dear friend of mine. He is the person who invited me to go to Baghdad with him in 2011, and we went! We share a deep love for Iraq, the Middle East, hope for the nations, peacemaking, absurdity, and revolutionary risk-taking (otherwise known as “faith”).
If you would like to see him speak in person, you can sign up for the newsletter here.
Eric Metaxas interviews the “Vicar of Baghdad,” Canon Andrew White. – YouTube.
Middle East Monday: “Our gift to the Middle East.”
There comes a point when the media’s approach to reporting is slander.
The dictionary defines “slander” as “the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.”
I would add “or a nation’s reputation.”
When giving information turns negative, pessimistic, condemning, unkind, insensitive, and fatalistic – when it broadcasts a sense of hopelessness about a people or nation, it is often slander. No one and no nation is without hope. Moreover, fueling vacuous theories, objectifying people on the altar of “news,” and staring heartlessly at the suffering of others, strips life and truth from the borders of souls. It wears on you, and on the listener, and greater than all that, IT WEARS ON THE SOUL OF THE NATION AND ITS PEOPLE.
This is unjust, unkind, and unacceptable. We assert our own priorities of knowing statistics above the day-to-day wellbeing and even LIFE of humans around the world. We could easily invest our efforts elsewhere. We could think together about solutions, real solutions. We could speak well of those people, highlight their strengths, celebrate their successes. We could look with love.
How would you feel if it seemed like the entire world had condemned your nation to a future of war, death, and misery? How would you feel if every night on the news there was another report about one of your personal failings?
~~ Today, Sam really blew it on his latest deal at the office. This creates a 7/10 failure likelihood for Sam. Will he ever get it together? (More at 10pm) ~~
Imagine you are Sam.
Well, we do that very thing about people and nations continuously! For example, we speak about Iraq cloistered in dire straits and endless factions of fighting. We broadcast these images. We drag the name of this nation through the mud. We don’t look harder for the successes. We don’t even bother to really look at the underlying issues (cycles of fear etc). This is not okay. It’s not loving. It’s not helpful. It’s not humane.
Yet, we can change this cultural trend. It starts with you. Learn some positive facts about places mentioned on the news. Share those with others. Don’t spread fear and hopelessness. Look for the pocket of light. Share that.
The article, “Religion Builds Bridges in Ethnically Split Cyprus” has a marvelous example of modeling possibility for the Middle East.
“We have to give a good example to the Middle East,” Atalay told The Associated Press. “This is our gift to the Middle East.”
What is YOUR gift to the Middle East?
It can be as simple as learning a positive fact and sharing it, or turning off the news when it begins to pour out negative reports, or asking a Middle Eastern friend about his/her experience, or praying for the leaders in the Middle East, or giving toward an organization that is directly loving the Middle East, or joining a group like Hope Iraq that purposefully shares good stories. Whatever it is, your choice toward kindness matters.
We can bring healing to the world. Much of that begins with how we talk about it.
Instead of bad reports, share the goodness of a place!
Turn slander into grandeur.
Middle East Mondays: Iraq’s Soul and “What We Left Behind”
Iraq had national elections last week. Prevailing through the pain of disillusionment, death, and destruction, people arose and shared their voices – putting votes of possibility into the collective POT-ential. This is crucial. In times of uncertainty, sharing one’s voice is key. Yet, it is not easy to do so in a nation belabored by official and unofficial war. Much is shifting since the end of the official war in Iraq in 2011 (the war ended the same month I returned to America from a visit to precious Baghdad).
If you’d like more perspective on Iraq these days, here’s a great article from The New Yorker.
“What We Left Behind” by Dexter Filkins
As you consider the staid countenance of Prime Minister Maliki, send him some loving thoughts. Point your mind toward “What would it look like for Iraq to move past its conflict and flourish?” Imagine that world. Dream with Iraq and for Iraq.
If you want, pray that Maliki receives an infusion of courage today straight from the heart of God. Pray that he feels safe, peaceful, and appreciated. Pray that he comes to a full revelation of how loved he is by God. Pray that he arises as a model of courageous vulnerability in Iraq. In a schema of self-protection, mistrust, violence, threats, assassinations, and power-play after power-play, CREATIVITY and VULNERABILITY can bring healing. When people are scared, they hole up. They lash out. They use might to establish power, instead of leading through humility and love. Iraq is stuck in this cycle of fear. Yet, the nation can be un-stuck! We can collectively use our hope and resources to invest love in Iraq. Consider today how you can help Iraq, or your next door neighbor, experience more freedom from fear-cycles. Get on the hope-cycle.