Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Atlanta to Tel Aviv

I found myself surrounded by two Christian Holy Land tour groups. The three people sitting across the aisle were from Florida. Their pastor had been to Israel 29 times and was yet again bringing a big group from his church. One of the ladies across the aisle, to my left, told me the pastor “is a big supporter of Israel, in fact, he is practically Israeli.”

The three folks sitting in front of me were from Orange County, California. They were from a Calvary Chapel church that had a group of 17 on a two-week trip of the Holy Land. I was not a part of the conversation, but was eavesdropping as these folks talked to a young Israel woman who was sitting next to them.

The pastor of the Calvary Chapel group assumed the position as spokesperson. He said no one from the group had ever been to Israel, except for himself, but all knew it was very important because this was the nation that God promised would be reconstituted from all corners of the globe, and that has now happened. He emphasized this is the only nation that God spoke about, and allied Himself with. He later called himself Jewish but soon clarified he wasn't ethnically Jewish, but spiritually Jewish.

The Israeli woman asked about their itinerary and as the pastor began to the young woman interrupted, “are you going to the West Bank?”

After a long pause, he gradually slid into an apologetic, “yeah, we are going to Bethlehem. We are a Christian group so Bethlehem is a site a lot of people want to see, but to tell you the truth, if I could choose, we wouldn't go to the West Bank at all. But like I told my group already, it's important to see how they live. It's like how Christian groups from the United States will go to Mexico, so you see how they live.”