After growing up in a conservative Christian household in the southern United States, I believe I understand why so many people like me favor Israel. Why not when the Bible speaks of Jews and Israel, the kings, the prophets and, of course, our precious Jesus who came from them? What’s not to love about Israel? Those poor people not only had to undergo persecution from the Nazis, but even now they are being terrorized by their hateful neighbors who want to wipe them off the map or drive them into the sea! Also you know how many folks cheer for the underdog!

Well, that was Susanne for most of her life. Not that I had a hatred for the Arabs or Persians. I did not. I just didn’t love them. Maybe apathetic best describes how I felt towards those people groups. Not really concerned with their perspectives because, goodness’ sake, these were THE JEWS — God’s Chosen People — that they were messin’ with! *sigh* Same old struggle since the days of Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau. Quite frankly, I just chalked the Middle East up to a Hatfield-and-McCoy type of dispute and figured those folks “enjoyed” conflict for centuries so what hope did anyone have to make them change now? It would always be that way so why concern myself much about them?

Thankfully, the One who knows my interests, how I think and what I enjoy decided it was time for me to get a broader perspective, to hear another point of view, to better understand. It was time for me to care about “those people” for whom I had little concern.

I can identify quite a bit with this, especially the last line. From The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan:

Dalia’s reflections of the house she lived in with her parents was very interesting. She wrote an open letter to Bashir that was published in the paper so Israelis could read it as well. She included how “it was very painful for me, as a young woman 20 years ago, to wake up to a few then well hidden facts. For example, we were all led to believe that the Arab population of Ramla and Lod had run away before the advancing Israeli army in 1948, leaving everything behind in a rushed and cowardly escape. This belief reassured us. It was meant to prevent guilt and remorse. But after 1967, I met not only you, but also an Israeli Jew who had personally participated in the expulsion from Ramla and Lod. He told me the story as he had experienced it, and as Yitzhak Rabin later confirmed in his memoirs.” Dalia mused, “My love for my country … was losing its innocence .. some change in perspective was beginning to take place in me. (pg. 200-1)

More later.