A Palestinian Christian visits an Evangelical Festival Abroad - Part 2
Some of the brochures I collected from these tables were issued by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism. Once they are involved then a “pilgrimage to the Holy Land” becomes a political tour catering to Israeli interests in which Palestinians are portrayed as a threat.
I was confused to see that two tables share the same title except, yet one had the definite article 'the' while the other didn’t. They both claimed to be friends of Israel. One of those table operators gave me a brochure entitled “20 facts about Israel and the Middle East.” There was no mention of Palestinians as a people or the existence of an occupation in a brochure that claims to present facts. It further paints the Arabs as the villains and the Jews as the only victims in need of prayers and support.
At this point, I wanted to leave the whole facility and just walk away. I felt threatened as a Palestinian and I felt that I couldn’t recognize myself as a Christian in this space. If blessing Israel is a prerequisite to being blessed by God, or siding with Israel means siding with God’s justice and peace, then where do I or my people fit? After a quick self-monologue weighing my options to leave or stay, I decided that I will collect all the brochures I could get, and write a post about it. This is my way to voice my response.
I do not wish to condemn these ministries because my issue is not with them specifically. First, if and when God calls people to work among a certain religious or ethnic group, who am I to stop them? And second, the problem does not lie in those ministries, but in our understanding of God. The fact that there was not a single table ministering to Palestinians, while I know many Christian friends of Palestinians or ministries working with Palestinians exist globally, makes me think we were intentionally excluded.
With such absence, I felt the message this festival and its organizers communicated to me is that they are pro-Israel, and I was welcome only if I would join that stance. This is a message of exclusion for Palestinian Christians who do not hold the same theology. Such ministries presented me and my people, the Palestinians, at best as irrelevant, and at worst, as enemies of God. I cannot help but be disappointed that some Evangelical churches have succumbed to this binary view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and have taken the side of Israel, not realizing or caring about the consequences this position has on Palestinians, as a people group and as part of God’s kingdom.
As much as I love my Christian community locally and globally, I struggle to accept that sometimes our actions exclude certain people when the foundation of our faith is inclusive. Although we know that we should show love to all, sometimes our actions do not. In some ways, the people I participated with in the Women’s March a few weeks ago, who were primarily secular and some would even label too liberal, were more inclusive in their words and actions. There, they acknowledge the Palestinians as a people and the occupation’s existence. They saw me and my people. I think there is something we can learn from them.
 I choose not to identify the location or the organizers of this festival because this is not an isolated incident.