As I write this, rockets are launching from Gaza toward cities in Israel. Israeli bombers are attacking Gaza. Adults and children have been killed on both sides.
The Palestinians and Israelis who live in Israel have a special place in my heart. I had the privilege of studying at the Ecumenical Institute for Theological Research at Tantur, Israel as part of my Ph.D. work. I was taught Hebrew by an Israeli Jew and Arabic by a Palestinian Muslim. I studied at Hebrew University with Jews from around the world. We worshiped with Catholics and Protestants from many different countries.
Our apartment was located on campus five miles south of the Old City of Jerusalem and one mile north of Bethlehem, Yvonne and I would take the bus to the supermarket in Jerusalem where Hebrew was spoken or to the smaller grocery in Bethlehem where Arabic was spoken. This was before the barrier fence was erected between Israel and the West Bank.
We spent several days celebrating Thanksgiving with American ex-pats at the hospital in Gaza. While we were there, I attended a Christian Bible study where I listened to Arab nursing students (all males), who had converted to Christianity, tell how they had been disowned by their families. Wherever we were in Israel, we took notice of varying perspectives of Palestinian Muslims, Palestinian Christians, and Israeli Jews. We heard the deep-seated resentments and felt the tensions. There were explosions within a mile of our apartment, but we did not hear them. People were injured. Some killed.
I led tours to Israel in 2012, 2015, and 2019, with either Israeli or Palestinian guides with quite different perspectives. We were always welcomed and treated kindly by Palestinians and Israelis. Conflicts have continued in Jerusalem, whose name ironically means “possession of peace” or “foundation of peace.”
Please join me in prayer for peace in Jerusalem, the surrounding area, as well as for the peace in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Hong Kong, and among all peoples in the name of the Prince of Peace.