One of the most discussed and heated political issues is the long-standing Israeli-Arab conflict, and in particular the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Solving this issue is a top agenda item in foreign policy of many presidents and prime ministers across the Western world. But how do local Jewish and Arab believers, living in the midst of the conflict in the Land of Israel, see the two sides or two narratives?
Kehila News Israel (KNI) recently conducted a short survey among congregation and ministry leaders in Israel asking questions related to politics, terrorism, and religious extremism. One of the goals of KNI is to give our readers a clear and accurate “window” into the Messianic community in Israel. What do we think about current issues? What unites us? What separates us?
This is the first article in a four-part series, in which we compare and analyze the survey answers of Messianic Jewish leaders and those of Arab Christian Leaders. Our purpose is to show the reality of the similarities and differences among Jewish and Arab believers in the Land. It is not to present what is right versus wrong or good versus bad.
In the infographic below are the first two questions and results.
The Israeli narrative verses Palestinian narrative question is simplistic by design. We did not address each of the many historical points of each narrative, but rather asked the validity of each narrative in general. The statistical difference in the answers between Jews and Arabs was expected, but the results were not as far apart as some may have presumed.
Only a slight majority, 54% of Messianic Jewish leaders, responded that “only the Israeli narrative is valid and the Palestinian narrative is problematic.” This means that, for better or for worse, 46% of the local Messianic Jewish leaders feel this is not the case. A total of 26% responded that both narratives are valid, and an additional 20% of the Messianic leaders responded that both are problematic.
A pre-survey expectation may have been that the majority of the Arab Christian leaders feel that “only the Palestinian narrative is valid and the Israeli narrative is problematic,” but this is clearly not the case. Only 6% of Arab Christian leaders responded with this answer. The same amount, 6%, also responded with the opposite answer that “only the Israeli narrative is valid.” The overwhelming majority, or 88%, of Arab Christian leaders surveyed feel that both narratives are valid (55%) or both narratives are problematic (33%).
Regarding the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the local leaders could answer one of the following.
1) Two-State Solution
2) One-State Solution
3) None. This conflict cannot be solved politically.
4) An alternative political solution
The well-known two-state solution espoused by the United Nations and U.S. Foreign Policy is not popular among Israeli Messianic Jewish leaders with only 8% responding with this answer. On the Arab Christian leaders side where it may been expected to have a clear majority, the results show that less than half, or 47%, think that a solution of “two states for two peoples” is the best viable solution.
A one-state solution is also not popular among the local spiritual leadership, with only 11% from the Jewish side and 16% from the Arab side seeing “one state for two peoples” as a viable option. It’s interesting to note that a new lobbying group was recently started by a Messianic Jewish organization in the United States to push for a one-state solution.
The overwhelming majority, 79%, of the local Messianic Jewish leader don’t view either a one-state or two-state as a solution. 62% responded that the conflict cannot be solved politically, and an additional 19% feel there is an alternative political solution. On the Arab Christian side, a sizable percentage, 37%, do not envision a one-state or two-state as a solution either.
These survey results demonstrate that, despite differences, there is common ground among Messianic Jewish leaders and Arab Christian leaders. There is no cut and dry single position on either side. The reality of this survey about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict also reflects the reality that the Body of Messiah in Israel is multi-faceted, comprised of many different congregations, languages, and backgrounds.
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts,
but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Messiah.”
(1 Corinthians 12:12)
The next survey question that we are asking Messianic Jewish and Arab Christian leaders is related to terrorism and religious extremism.
NOTE: Survey results were calculated from 37 Messianic Jewish leaders (approx 20% of the total) and 19 Arab Christian Leaders in Israel (approx 20% of the total) who responded to the survey in March 2016.