Mosaic of Peace Reflection – Day 2
by Peter Martin
Today was a day of perspectives. All of them perspectives on peace of course, but some were angry for peace, and angry for their people. In my opinion, that’s OK.
This will give you the variety of perspectives I’m talking about: A younger Palestinian Muslim who did us a great honor with a tour of a place seldom seen by non-Muslims but was honest with his frustration toward how his people were being treated. Among his stories were broken windows in a Mosque – broken by Israeli bullets and blocked from Israel authorities to fix. He also told of his six-month stint in jail due to painting his office in defiance of Israeli rules. (Yes really!) More on that in a second. We next met with the bishop and a local pastor in the Lutheran church, both also Palestinian. They hosted us for lunch in their church and also expressed their dismay at the situation and the way their countrymen were being treated. Their message however resonated with me on another level, as they spoke of the need for the church and our Lord Jesus Christ to be a part of the solution. The same was spoken by two Christian women, one Palestinian and the other Armenian, who also invited to be part of the conversation. Our Lutheran hosts also invited a high ranking and older Muslim friend of theirs to address us, and he as well captured a winsome spirit.
The above sessions were done in the forms of tours and being guests in Old City, and we wrapped up our conference day back at the hotel with 2 Israelis: one a journalist and the other a rabbi. I appreciated the keen objectivity the journalist brought to the problem. She knew the issue of antisemitism, being the child of Holocaust survivors, but was passionate for the Palestinian cause and honest that although her views were not always welcome – she was free to express them. The Rabbi was a particularly gracious figure, as he was honest with his pride in his country and Israel’s right to exist. But equally firm that it did not justify many of their actions. He also tempered the conversation, urging us to use discernment in everything we heard, including from him. For example, when he heard the office stories of refusal to repair the Mosque windows and being jailed for painting, he expressed skepticism at the former but understood the rationale, however wrong it was, for the latter! Truly, the situation is complex and as outsiders we need to continue to listen.
I’m proud that’s what we did today. This is still a pilgrimage and there is much we have seen and will keep seeing. But we also will keep listening – that too is part of pilgrimage to both a holy land and a war-torn land. That too is the way that we can work, however slowly, on our perspective.
Other Photos From Day 2 of the Conference in Jerusalem
*Photos by Lee Catoe and Cynthia Terrell