From George Floyd to Iyad al-Hallaq: Can the American church also engage with the Palestinian?

(photo: Twitter)
A challenge to evangelical pastors and leaders in the United States to listen to Palestinians just as they are listening now to their African American brothers and sisters.

By Wissam Al-Saliby | Arab Baptist Theological Seminary | June 18, 2020

‘Symbolically, we relate to [George Floyd’s] experience because we also ‘cannot breathe.’ The wall, the [Israeli] colonies and checkpoints suffocate us.’
—Munther Isaac, Academic Dean of Bethlehem Bible College

Amid the protests to the killing of George Floyd, many Evangelical pastors and leaders are speaking up and supporting racial justice, reconciliation, and public institution reform in the United States through Sunday sermons, peaceful protests, and social media.

I would like to challenge these pastors and leaders to weave the injustices in the Holy Land into their narrative for the following reasons.

Reason 1: There’s police and military brutality in the Holy Land.

On May 30th, Iyad al-Hallaq, a 32-year-old Palestinian, was walking in the streets of Jerusalem to a center that caters to autistic persons. Despite the man’s caregiver shouting at the police officers that he had a disability, despite al-Hallaq not posing any threat, despite his shouting at the two Israeli officers that he was with the caregiver, the officers shot and killed him.

On social media as well as in traditional media, the killing of al-Hallaq was inevitably compared to the killing of Floyd. The underlying racism, overpowering police and military, randomness of violence, patterns of killing unarmed persons, and the impunity are too familiar to Palestinians in the Holy Land.

As soon as the video of George Floyd’s killing circulated, Twitter was filled with images of Palestinians in similar positions, lying flat on the ground, pinned to it under the knees of Israeli soldiers

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