Love Thy Neighbor
EMU Speaker Delves Into Israel/Palestine Conflict
Posted: November 17, 2012
An 8-meter cement wall, part of the Israeli West Bank barrier, is designed to keep Israel safe from terrorists. But that same wall also keeps students and worshipers from religious centers.
Dr. Bishara Awad, founder of Bethlehem Bible College — a Christian institution six miles south of Jerusalem within the territory of the West Bank — described what remains of Palestine on Nov. 6 during an address at Eastern Mennonite University. The stop was part of a national tour, during which he will emphasize the role of Christian witnessing in the Israel/Palestine conflict.
Founded by local Arabs in 1979, Bethlehem Bible College enrolls 135 students interested in Christian service in the Middle East.
“Men and women are losing the right to live in dignity [in Palestine],” he said. “What we are witnessing right now is really a great hardship.”
“Every Palestinian … is a suspect and is treated by the Israeli military as a terrorist,” he said.
Awad became a refugee in 1948, when a stray bullet killed his father during Israel’s founding. He traveled to the United States for college before returning to his homeland, but he says his American citizenship is of little benefit in the Middle East.
“I’d rather put my American passport on the side,” he said.
‘I am chosen, too’
After listing the struggles for Palestinians, Awad quoted Philippians 4:4-7: “Rejoice in the Lord always. … Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Awad encourages reconciliation and peace negotiations among contentious countries and groups, claiming the Palestinians are a peace-seeking people.
“We can turn [the enemy] into a friend,” he said. “This is a true victory. Peace is needed, and it is needed now.”
Wars bring few positives to the countries involved, he noted, explaining wars create refugees, separate neighbors and cause a loss of respect for one another, as well as physical destruction.
“The cost of waging war is too high,” he said, saying that America alone has spent upwards of $300 billion on the Iraq war, and lost more than 3,400 U.S. soldiers.
Learn the whole story of the Middle East, Awad urged those in attendance. “The United States is ignoring completely what is happening to the Palestinian people.”
He also addressed the common notion that Jews in Israel are God’s “chosen people.”
“Eighty-five percent of the Jews who live in Israel are secular,” he said. “How could this be a state that is ordained by God? … I refuse that. I am chosen, too.”
Contact Candace Sipos at 574-6275 or firstname.lastname@example.org