Reverend William Barber II places the struggle for justice in Palestine in the broad framework of global struggles against racism, colonialism and white supremacy.
By Rev. William J. Barber II | christianzionism.org | Sept 1, 2020
The same philosophy that claimed black bodies and called it Christian now justifies the displacement of Palestinian families and calls it ‘pro-Israel.’
The Palestinian experience resonates with my own background. I didn’t grow up anywhere near Israel/Palestine, but the slave masters did treat my ancestors as property. What is required if we are to be human, even against the backdrop of colonialism? The colonial masters who said America was their property saw my native ancestors as savages. The ways some people talked about “God’s people” excluded me. They said it was their manifest destiny to subdue the land that was promised to them, no matter who was already there. The same philosophy that claimed black bodies and called it Christian now justifies the displacement of Palestinian families and calls it “pro-Israel.” But based on ancient Hebrew scripture in Leviticus: “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns among you as the native and you are to love them as yourself. You shall have the same law for the sojourner and the native, for I am the Lord your God who honor and loves all of creation.”
Often when I was young, I heard fellow Christians talk about the nation state of Israel–especially the TV preachers, but I never heard much about the Palestinian people who were already living on that land. I did know about a large number of European Jews who were fleeing terrible oppression who had settled in Palestine. But just as I never heard much about my people in many tellings of American history, I never heard about Palestinian people and their desperate need for equality in that land
It was my father, God rest his soul, who was a friend to both Jewish and Palestinian people who taught me this history. It was my father who taught me that faith had to love and speak truth to every community represented in my fusion DNA. He taught me about Palestinians and Israelis. So, in my own faith journey, I learned that I cannot be faithful to who I am if the lies of power, which establish systemic racism, cause us to overlook someone else.
The Bible I read says we are each made in the Imago Dei, the image of God. What does it mean, if every person is created in the image of God, that we so often write people off because of their nationality, religion, or race? It is not simply an injustice against them. Because it is a violation of God’s moral law, it also obscures my ability to see the truthfulness of the glory of God in the diversity of humanity that God created.