So much sorrow in our hearts...

So much sorrow in our hearts - and so little hope or compassion on the horizon - yet one more clue about the importance of embracing and practicing Sabbath. In my quiet time, I came across a few resources that offer an alternative to the current cycle of violence raging through the veins of both Israel and Palestine.  Each link contains a more in-depth article/report that offers another layer of wisdom to this complex tragedy.

The first is The Parents Circle (check them out @ http://www.theparents circle. com/) The Parents Circle - Families Forum (PCFF) is a joint Palestinian Israeli organization of over 600 families, all of whom have lost a close family member as a result of the prolonged conflict. Joint activities have shown that the reconciliation between individuals and nations is possible and it is this insight that they are trying to pass on to both sides of the conflict. Moreover, the PCFF has concluded that the process of reconciliation between nations is a prerequisite to achieving a sustainable peace. The organization thus utilizes all resources available in education, public meetings and the media, to spread these ideas. 

The PCFF was established in 1995 - by Mr. Yitzhak Frankental and several bereaved Israeli families. In 1998 the first meetings were held with a group of Palestinians families from Gaza who identified with the call to prevent further bereavement through dialogue, tolerance, peace and reconciliation. The connection with the group in Gaza was cut off as a result of the second Intifada.

The second is this article - also reported on NPR - re: a visit between one of the slain Israeli teens parents and the parents of the Palestinian youth who was murdered. (check it out families-of-slain-israeli-and-palestinian-teens-tu/The families of murdered Israeli teen Naftali Fraenkel and murdered Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir are drawing comfort from an unexpected source: each other. Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat took to Facebook on Sunday to write about an “emotional and special telephone conversation between two families that have lost their sons.” He said that during his visit to the Fraenkel family home, he had a chance to speak to Hussein Abu Khdeir, Mohammed’s father, and express pain at the “barbaric” murder of his son.

And the third comes from The Atlantic: The Next Generation of Israeli-
Palestinian Conflict
(check it out @ internationa l/ archive/2014/07/the-next-generation-of-israeli-palestinian-conflict/374184/
In recent weeks, the all-too-common elements of Israeli-Palestinian violence—rocks, rockets, and rubber bullets, Molotov cocktails and missile strikes—have included more unusual tactics: kidnappings and murders, remarkable not only for their viciousness but also for the youth of the victims and perpetrators.

Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach, and Naftali Fraenkel, the three Jewish teens who were abducted and murdered three weeks ago while hitchhiking in the West Bank, were between the ages of 16 and 19. Muhammad Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian boy snatched from outside his home two weeks later and burned to death in a Jerusalem forest, was 16. The Jewish suspects being held in connection with Abu Khdeir’s killing are reportedly between the ages of 16 and 25. The prime suspects in the murder of the Israeli teens are 29 and 32. Israeli and Palestinian leaders have denounced the murders. 

But with Jewish teenagers marching through Jerusalem and calling for revenge, and Palestinian teenagers rioting in West Bank villages, the condemnations have so far felt impotent. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is now 79 years old. Netanyahu is 64. Each has spent almost a decade in power (Netanyahu’s terms haven’t been consecutive). There is a limit to how long they can retain control over their young and increasingly restless populations. The median age in Israel is 29.9. In the West Bank, it’s 22.4. In Gaza, 18.2. (In the United States, by way of contrast, it’s 37.6.).

In the coming years and decades, how will the friends and classmates of Naftali Fraenkel and Muhammad Abu Khdeir exercise leadership? Fraenkel’s peers may be more conservative than the current generation of Israeli leaders, while Abu Khdeir’s may spurn Palestinian party politics altogether. Perhaps the most dangerous outcome is that many on both sides could go their entire lives without saying a word to one another.

And fourth is Churches for Middle East Peace (check them out @ a series of horrific kidnappings-murders and weeks of systematic Israeli security operations against Hamas focused in the West Bank leading to several deaths,  Hamas escalated its rocket fire into Israel from Gaza following the death of a Hamas operative by an Israeli airstrike June 29, ending two years of only sporadic violence between Israel and Gaza.  

In the past week more than 250 rockets and mortar shells have been fired from Gaza into Israel; the IDF has launched over 800 strikes and over  100 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed, many of them non- combatants.  Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Dimona, the home of Israel’s nuclear reactor have all been targeted by Hamas rickets, so far without loss of life or major damage. There is fear that both sides are locked in a cycle of violence with a growing risk of an Israeli ground offensive into Gaza with far greater loss of life.  Netanyahu told the Knesset July 10 he is “not talking to anybody about a cease-fire” with Hamas right now and called up 40,000 troops.   President Obama has offered to mediate a ceasefire but so far without much response.

As I read these often unreported sources - and hold them in prayer - I am more and more clear that one of the most valuable things I can do is share them with others. It is one small step towards breaking down the barriers of hatred and fear. The other thing I can do is find safe and honest ways for us to hear one an other's stories - Jewish stories, Muslim stories, Christian stories - and trust that the Spirit will lead where she will.


Peter said…
Keep reading and sharing, James. You are bearing a much-needed light.

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