The Pain Game

We are inundated through the media of the narratives about the pain that the Palestinian people are suffering. Stories of refugees, checkpoints, settlements, and apartheid appear online daily. In some circles Palestinian suffering is actually being compared to the holocaust, and the blame always points out Israel as the cause of Palestinian suffering.

Zionism is compared to Nazism, and Israel is compared to the apartheid policies of South Africa. Although these accusations are outright lies and fabrications, many Jews and Christians outside of Israel are starting to feel a collective guilt over the suffering of the Palestinian people, and are blaming Israel for the problem.

The narratives of Palestinian suffering are repeated so often, that they begin to override the memory of pain and suffering of all other people groups.

The Jewish people have suffered more pain and persecution throughout history than any other people: 400 years of slavery in Egypt, destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, persecution and mass killings at the hands of the early church, the Crusades, pogroms and anti-Semitism in Europe, and the systematic slaughter of six-million Jews during the holocaust.

In what can only be described as a miracle of God and fulfillment of His Word, the Jews started returning to the “Land” in 1882 with the First Aliyah, and then in 1948 a “nation was born in a day.” (Isaiah 66:8). From that Independence Day in 1948, Israel’s Muslim neighbors have sought to destroy Israel and drive the Jews out. Not because of the occupation of the West Bank, not because of the security wall/fence, not because of apartheid, not because of refugees, not because of settlements, not because of Jerusalem – under Jordanian control from 1949-1967 – but solely because of an ancient hatred of the Jewish people.

Through all the wars that Israel fought to defend their nation since 1948, the hand of God was always with them, because He made another promise to the Jewish people. In Amos 9, God promised to bring His people back from exile to the land he promised them. They would rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They would plant vineyards, make gardens and eat their fruit. And, once they were planted in their own land, they would never again be uprooted from the land that God gave them. Whatever theology one might try to apply to Amos 9:14-15, the present facts on the ground bear it out.

The Palestinians call the day that Israel declared their independence, the “Nakba” or the catastrophe. What would have happened if the Arabs had won that war? There would be no Israel, and the Jews would have been killed or driven out. Would the whole world be a better place today? Would there be no Arab pain and suffering in Syria, Lebanon, and other Arab countries?

So yes, the Palestinians are suffering pain, and we acknowledge it is a real problem that needs to be resolved. However, Christian support for Israel and the Messianic Jewish community in Israel should not be diminished by recounting the pain of the Palestinians. Instead, “let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,…” (Hebrews12:2 NASB)