Initially going into the summer, I was a little anxious about my internship in the USA.
I did not know what to expect from the camps I was going to, and what the campers would be like. I thought it highly likely that I might find some existing prejudice towards Palestinians specifically and Arabs in general. However, instead of finding negative impressions from false stereotypes, I found that there was actually a lack of any knowledge at all of the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. This prevalent lack of awareness and information was present in the minds of the youth and even the adults. So, I tried to explain the occupation to the best of my ability to campers and counselors alike.
The main reaction was: “I had no idea!”
Since there was little to no knowledge, I then expected to be asked more questions on the issue. I thought they would want to ask about every little detail of the oppressed and the oppressors, and their relationship with each other. However, I was dismayed that very few would ask for more information and details about Palestine. And I don’t know if it would have been better to face preexisting misconceptions and positions on Palestine and the occupation.
As a Palestinian, it is a very discouraging and disturbing thing to realize that your struggle from oppression is something that is not only unknown to so many people but sparks very little interest. Especially the interest of the people whose government provides some of the largest military aid to the oppressors. (The United States gives Israel three billion dollars in military aid annually. There is currently talk between Israeli officials and U.S. President Barack Obama to raise that number to five billion dollars before the end of his term.)
I am not saying that all people were uninterested in Palestine and the occupation. There were a few people from every camp that would come and ask me about more things and were genuinely interested. But why is it that the majority of the people that we come across are so indifferent?
Matthew and I were talking about this at one point this summer, and he pointed out something very important. That if you are not the marginalized it is difficult to care for the marginalized.
What does the Bible say about being indifferent to the plight of the marginalized?
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16
What should the Christian response be?
“If anyone with earthly possessions sees his brother in need, but withholds his compassion from him, how can the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us love not in word and speech, but in action and truth.” 1 John 3:17-18
Let us love in both action and truth.