Today’s voice comes from Doris Salah, a YWCA UN Representative. Doris, who grew up in a Christian Palestinian household, remembers well the terror of being forced out of her home at gunpoint in 1948. After the United Nations partitioned Palestine into two distinct sections to accommodate Jewish immigration, Palestinians rejected the idea that they should give up their lands to solve the problems of Europeans. Israel, determined to defend its new homeland, pushed militarily into Palestinian territory. Families fled without any preparation. Soon, Jewish families who had just arrived from Europe would be escorted into abandoned streets to claim the house of their choice. Most assumed that whoever lived there had chosen to leave. Doris knows better. All of this happened 65 years ago, and still her people consider themselves refugees. “It has been a tough life,” she says. “It continues to be tough.”
Obviously, the politics of this story are complicated. But the truth of this story is beyond dispute, as is the personal toll it has taken on her family. Today, Doris lives in the United States. She values and admires this country. And yet, she wonders why America has not spoken more passionately for the cause of her Palestinian family… why we are quick to impose sanctions on places like Iraq and Iran, but we refuse to say much at all about some of the harsher policies of our ally Israel. Admittedly, the answer is complicated. At the same time, the details of Doris’ story are strikingly simple. How would we feel if someone took our home and never gave it back?
Despite her painful history, Doris Salah is a kind, gracious, humble and unassuming woman. While she does not understand why her people should compromise any more (she believes that giving up 78% of the land the UN promised them is more than enough), she is willing to consider the compromise of a two-state solution if it will bring what she calls “some measure of justice.” For the cause of peace, she is willing to give more. But as a Christian, she holds tightly to this assertion: “Christ came for the salvation of all… It’s hard for me to accept that there are some who are more chosen.”
It should be hard for us too. But it’s complicated. We haven’t even begun to talk about the Holocaust. There are many personal stories in Palestine…