What’s Happening Wednesday: Isaac and Ishmael

In our last year of elementary school, my little (almost twin) brother and I received trophies for getting the highest scores on the standardized test. I believe I got first place, and he got second, but our scores were identical. I think I got first because my name was first in alphabetical order. Also, maybe the principal didn’t think i could take the ego blow of being beat by my little brother. Despite that, my brother and I have never actually had a rivalry. We weren’t competing for our parents attention. In fact, I think we were doing everything we could to stay out of their way. We let them focus on the youngest and the oldest, and we kind of hid in the background.

That’s not to say that I’m unfamiliar with sibling rivalries. If I tell my oldest daughter that she’s cute, the youngest daughter inevitably is going to ask if I think she’s cute, too. If I give my son a hug, the youngest is coming in for a hug, too. The baby is always demanding my attention. I’m sure it bothers her siblings, but they’ve learned to laugh it off, for the most part. She can be a bit dramatic. But what happens when sibling rivalries are go beyond the dramatic, and into devastating?’

I’m watching in horror at the fighting in Palestine. The Israelis invaded a mosque during Ramadan. The Palestinians fight back by launching rockets. Then, the Israelis initiate air strikes. Dozens of people are killed, including women and children. There appears to be no end to the violence in sight. Isaac and Ishmael came together to bury their father, but their rivalry never ended.

In the US, we’ve made it no secret which of the brothers we prefer. Our largely Judeo-Christian society, counts Muslims as ‘other’. We often talk about the Israelis right to defend themselves, but rarely give that same respect to their Arab neighbors. Saying anything pro-Palestine could be considered anti-Israel, and cost you air-time, or even your job. It could even lead to death threats. Ask Michael Che from SNL, Marc Lamont Hill, formerly of CNN, and Linda Sarsour, American patriot of Palestinian descent.

I know that there are nuances to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I know it’s not as simple as a sibling rivalry that has continued for a couple of millennia. But I can also see when one side is being treated unfairly. I can see that the death toll of Palestinians is nearly triple that of the Israelis. I do know that invading a holy site in the middle of a holy season is disrespectful at best, and disgusting at it’s worst. It is reminiscent of the Mother Immanuel shooting and the American church bombings of the 1960s. Attacking people where they worship, or for how they worship is simply ungodly behavior.

Father Abraham had many sons. Let’s pray for all of them.

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