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Deep Dive: Blood Ties in Israel and Palestine | Dr. Alveda King

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  "I don't know the answer to the Middle East. What I do know is that my father would be for the support of all humanity, whatever that looks like. And today, it does not look like humanity exists in an appropriate way in the Middle East."  

~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


As we seek to unravel the ongoing feud between Israel and Palestine, an inconvenient truth remains hidden in plain view. Thanks to two historical women, Sarah and Hagar, Israelis and Palestinians are natural brothers and sisters.


"Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, "Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?" And Abraham said to God, "If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!" Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac."

~ Genesis 17:17-19


Not cousins, not neighbors; Ishmael and Isaac are biological siblings. Abraham is the natural father of Ishmael and Isaac. To add to the lineage, there are his sons with Ketura; Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. And to go beyond, there are his heirs numbered more than the sands; engrafted in Christ.


"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels. For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, Peace be within you. For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your prosperity."

~ Psalm 122:6


On this earth, as the one blood and one human race of Acts 17:26, we must support a reconciliation of Abraham’s seed in the Middle East.


Today, an urgent question must be: Is there hope for Israel? As we ponder this issue, let us remember that it was during this month, in the year 1945, that the deeply respected German theologian, pastor, and anti-Nazi objector, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was killed at the hands of the Nazi regime.


What a legacy he shared as he displayed the true cost of discipleship. Let us remember his words today, as he spoke under the oppressive conditions of the Nazi culture: "The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children."


We honor Bonhoeffer for his heroic sacrifice, devotion to God, and refusal to bow the knee to a murderous regime.


During his lifetime, my uncle, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also spoke of an ultimate test: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."


MLK and his wife Coretta also traveled to Israel. He considered anti- Semitism tandem to suicide and encouraged support for Israel. "Peace for Israel means security. The world and all people of good will must respect the territorial integrity of Israel."

~ MLK on ABC's "Issues and Answers" show in June 1967


Prayers and love for Israel is part of my "King Family Legacy." Months before her death on March 7, 2024, my beloved mother, Dr. Naomi Ruth Barber King traveled to Israel on a mission of peace. There, in the face of death, including the murder of a member of her delegation, Mother prayed for peace.



I too traveled to Israel in 2011. There I prayed for peace while among both Israelis and Palestinians.  One thing that was consistently apparent, it isn’t the masses of the people of the land who are fighting, they aren’t responsible for the tension and war talk. The people who inhabit the small geographical territory of Israel are human beings. They are parents with children. They are people who want a safe place to live and love. It is so unfortunate that the political unrest causes parents to fear for the safety of their children.  As is often the case in almost every country on the planet, it is political differences, greed and power struggles that add the fuel to the fire so to speak. All the talk of peace negotiations and land swaps are made by a handful of humans, and the masses suffer trying to sort through the propaganda.

As to the bombing and killings, human vengeance alone is never enough. Yes, in the Old Testament Bible, God had warrior champions. However, in the New Testament, there is WORD OF A MORE EXCELLENT WAY.  


My father Rev. A. D. King, my mother Dr. Naomi, our uncle Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and our grandparents taught us that war and laws and political battles only beget more of the same.


"The king’s decree [to Queen Esther] gave the Jews in every city authority to unite to defend their lives. They were allowed to kill, slaughter, and annihilate anyone of any nationality or province who might attack them or their children and wives, and to take the property of their enemies."

~ Esther 8:11 NLT


"49: When Jesus' followers saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?" 50: And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.51: But Jesus answered, "No more of this!" And he touched the man’s ear and healed him."

~ Luke 22:49-51


Yet, Jesus also returned the sword to Peter.


It’s important to note that while human weapons and human laws may bring people to the table, it is love that will melt hearts and bring the healing power of forgiveness. The King’s law to Esther and even the sword of Peter at the betrayal of Jesus reminds us that "it is not by [human] might, nor by [human] power, but by My Spirit says the LORD of hosts." 

~ Zechariah 4:6


This is true in Israel; and on our pilgrimage to Israel, our group bore witness to this truth. Don’t take my word for it, though. When God speaks to you, and beckons you to come… "Go ye!"


In a post, Amir Tsarfti summarizes MLK’s thoughts: On October 27, 1967, just a few months after the Six Day War, Dr. Martin Luther King had dinner with students from Harvard University in Boston. Professor Seymour Martin Lipset was present and recalls how one of the students criticized Zionists. King was incensed, saying "Don’t talk like that!" - and continuing: When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism!


The following year, just days before his tragic murder, King addressed an annual Jewish assembly and explained his pro-Israel feelings at greater length. He explained that Israel and Arab states had different conceptions of what constitutes "peace". Arab states are consumed with inequality and require fundamental changes in their societies before they can feel secure. Israel, in contrast, desires only secure borders and for the world to recognize its right to exist.


"Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity and the right to use whatever sea lanes it needs. I see Israel, and never mind saying it, as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality." (March 26, 1968, address to the 68th annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly)



In closing, here lies an answer for Israel. Prayer. Today and always, let us pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Let’s pray for the revelation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, for human dignity, from the womb to the tomb and beyond; for the one blood human race. Shalom.

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