When I was in Jerusalem last January, one evening we heard an Israeli Jew give an Israeli perspective on the peace process; on another evening we heard a Palestinian Arab Muslim give a Palestinian perspective on the peace process. After the second presentation, my friend Rich said to me, “That was depressing.” I asked him why? He said, “The two guys we’ve heard are moderate, intelligent, articulate people– and if we put them in a room together to figure this out, EVEN THEY wouldn’t be able to come to an agreement.”
Add people to the mix– extremists on both sides who are not interested in co-existence– and you get a snarl of conflicting desires and stoked passions. And you get violence; and vengeance– and the vicious cycle of pain for pain. That’s what happened near Hebron last night.
The Middle East can seem very far away from us, but it’s not. What happens there affects us: as has been observed, the world is closer and hotter than it has ever been. A viable Palestinian state, side-by-side and at peace with Israel, is in our interest. It wouldn’t be a cure-all for the challenges in that part of the world, but it would be helpful.
Hopelessness is easy: the experience of the last 120-or-so years suggests– and it is utterly reasonable to conclude– that peace between Israelis and Palestinians will not issue from the direct talks starting today in Washington. Faith, however, holds to a hope that the world does not know– that the world cannot know– because it is a hope grounded in God’s nature to break open new possibilities for life. Despair puts limits on what God can do; despair says, “I know the darkness, and the darkness cannot be overcome.” Hope says, for a start: “I don’t know. Maybe.” Sometimes that’s enough.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.