Musalaha-A Ministry of Reconciliation
Dear Friends and Partners,
We would like to thank all of you who are praying for us during this time. We are praying that this cease-fire will lead to a more comprehensive truce. This update includes a report about our women’s trauma facilitation follow-up as well as some prayer requests for upcoming reconciliation events.
We praise God for a successful family-leaders’ follow-up where our participants expressed the great importance of praying and sharing together especially during these times and decided to have a follow-up weekend in the early part of 2013 to continue together through this process.
Women’s Reconciliation Training
Please lift up our women who will be gathering together for our women’s national reconciliation conference this December 28-30 for a time of studying, fellowship, and moving through the reconciliation process. Pray for the teachers and the preparations for this training.
Reflections on Trauma and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Recently one of our women’s groups went through their second training on the subject of trauma. In our previous trauma conference we focused on family trauma, losses in our communities, and factors necessary for healing. In this follow-up conference, we discussed domestic and intergenerational aspects of trauma. Domestic trauma is a subject many of us are aware of due to media and public awareness initiatives, but intergenerational trauma is something that was new to many of us. Intergenerational trauma, otherwise known as complex, historical or ancestral trauma, is a relatively new focus within psychology that deals with the experience of violence suffered by a group of people that is then passed on to successive generations.
At first, it was difficult for me to understand why we needed to address both these areas of trauma, as I failed to grasp the relevance of domestic trauma to reconciliation in an intergroup forum. Yet, as the conference went on, the more I understood as the similarities between domestic and intergenerational trauma were explained.
In the context of our conflict, there are two main causes of intergenerational trauma: first, the trauma that Israelis and Palestinians have suffered due to external perpetrators, respectively; and second, the trauma Israelis and Palestinians have caused each other. The external sources of Palestinian trauma were caused by Ottoman oppression and British Colonialism, particularly in the aftermath of the Arab Revolt of 1936. The Israelis, on the other hand, have suffered intergenerational trauma as a result of anti-Semitism, carried out through a history of discrimination, pogroms, and most notably, during the Holocaust. Domestically, Israelis suffer from trauma due to the cycles of terror attacks carried out by Palestinians. Palestinians suffer domestic trauma as a result of the Israeli occupation and military attacks by Israelis. Both sides cause and continue trauma against the other. The patterns of violence are reflective of those of domestic abuse. The occupation, the separation wall, land confiscation, terror attacks, and kidnapping soldiers are only a few examples of abuses in our context. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians claim that the other kills innocent children and women and try to shame the other.
Excuses are when the perpetrators rationalize what they have done. They may come up with a string of justifications for their behavior, or blame the other for their own abusive behavior - anything to avoid taking responsibility. On a collective level, the idea of who to blame is utilized to excuse the use of violence. Israel takes certain military measures because it has the right to defend itself from Palestinian attacks. On the other hand, the Palestinian militia groups hold the same claim to justify retaliation for Israeli military attacks. Both point fingers at the other, and thus excuse their own use of violence.The violence, murder, and suffering of innocent Palestinians and Israelis taking place as a result of the recent outbreak in Gaza and Israel is another cycle of abuse compounding the past cycles of violence. Each side tries to shift the blame to the other side. And each side attempts to claim moral superiority in order to bring shame to the other side's method of fighting. Both sides will claim that the timing and the force of the attacks have been planned ahead to serve many political or personal interests. All this causes and maintains a cycle of systematic trauma to both Palestinians and Israelis.
An Israeli wrote:
In this time of trials and tribulations, let us not lose sight of what Jesus came to the earth to teach us and that is Love…. Only God's love can teach us how to love and forgive our enemies, even if they trample you under their feet. We know that we abide in this love when the moment an act of hatred is thrown at you, you turn the other cheek…. I pray that the Lord show all of us what love really means through His eyes and that He bring comfort to those with shattered hearts.
I have learned that there are many causes of trauma, and that trauma functions on its own cycle. Just as domestic violence carries with it a lot of abuse, so does the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Do we need to wait for our leaders to stop this cycle? Or can we be the voice in the wilderness - in the midst of the conflict - that calls our peoples to repentance, redemption, and reconciliation? We want to be agents of hope to our people, and we want to anchor those who are suffering and hurting. We remember the words of the Psalmist who wrote, “Though you have made me see troubles many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once more.” (Psalm 71:20-21) We believe that our present conflict and suffering is not the end, as it says in Proverbs, “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 23:17-18) It is this future hope we strive for, and we ask for your continued prayers for peace and restoration during this troubled time.