Last week, I listened to an interview with the Most Rev. Hosam Elias Naoum, Archbishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East. Yes, that title is complex—and his job is even more complex, especially these days. For example, he’s the archbishop responsible for the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City that made the news after an airstrike on October 17. Over the ensuing days, there was so much division over who caused the airstrike—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg he’s steering right now.
Today, I want to focus on Archbishop Hosam’s plea that I used as the title for this post: “Please don’t bring more division to our land.” This was his response (at minute 36 if you want to listen to the webinar) to a question about what he would say to young people on US college campuses who are so divided into pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli camps. He noted that similar divisions are arising among young people in Israel, fueled by social media.
College campuses around Jerusalem are closed (the new term was supposed to begin on October 8), but there is still so much tension amongst Arab and Jewish Israeli young people. His concern is that the division across the world fuels what happens in the Holy Land, and vice versa. Students have recently been expelled from university in Israel for posting “pro-this group or pro-that group” on social media.
As I noted a few weeks ago when I first blogged on this war, I don’t have answers. I do think we need to practice listening to all “sides,” in this conflict and others around the world. I wonder how many young people, both here in the US and in the Holy Land, feel completely unheard by older generations who are clutching power and fighting for more.
Perhaps you had a chance over Thanksgiving to sit and share a meal with young people, whether family, friends, or community members. Perhaps that opportunity will arise again in the weeks ahead as we “celebrate the holidays.” As such occasions arise for me, I intend to ask younger people how I can better hear their voices and their concerns. How might you do the same?
Also, if you want to support the many complex ministries of Archbishop Hosam, he suggests contributing to the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.