Zvi Nov/Dec 2002
Where there is no faith, there is the tendency to hate. We see this every day as Arabs volunteer to become suicide bombers. And they wait eagerly to be called to do so. Those who send these people to die tell them they will go to heaven, where seventy-two virgins will receive them. They tell them they will become shahid (“holy”) if they kill us.
Where I live, there are many Arab villages. The Lord has blessed me with the ability to speak the Arab language. From time to time, I meet my neighbors, and we talk. I have lived near some of them for twenty-eight years. But they are not friendly, as they were before. They are being taught to hate us.
Recently I began speaking about what is happening here with some Arabs who know me well. They act as though they are now big heroes. I told them it is possible for us to be friends and live in peace, and the way to such friendship is not with weapons. “We must all put our trust in the Lord,” I told them. “You are putting your trust in your sheiks, and they are trying to make suicide bombers out of you. Ask these sheiks if they are asking their own sons to become such living bombs.”
Then they began to listen. They asked me, “How can we live in peace? Is this possible?”
I replied, “Yes, it is possible. But only if we worship the living God, the One about whom the Bible speaks, the One about whom it is written, ‘and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all’ (Isa. 53:6). This does not speak of nationality. Everyone who has believed in Him can receive His forgiveness and great love.”
One of them asked, “Where is this written?”
“In the Bible,” I replied.
“This is only for the Jews!” he protested.
But I told them that half the world’s population follows the Bible, not only Jewish people. Christians follow the Bible. And I read John 3:16 to them:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Because they know people who work with Arab Christians, they recognized the verse. So one quickly replied, “This is what we often hear from the Christians. You are a Jew. How did you come to believe this?”
“I have believed in one mighty God,” I said. “Everyone can come to Him and be received as His child, ‘Not by might, nor by power,’ but by His Spirit” (Zech. 4:6).
Speaking with these people is even more difficult than speaking to ultra-Orthodox Jewish people. But it is our obligation to tell of God’s salvation. As I was talking to them, more Arabs began arriving and were listening. I showed them that we are not told, “Go, kill to become holy.” No! God tells us in Matthew 22:39, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” I asked them, “Is this possible for you?”
“If we love our Jewish neighbors as ourselves,” one said, “tomorrow they will kill us.”
“Look at what you are saying,” I replied. “Your sheiks, whom you trust instead of God, they are killing you. They are making suicide bombers out of you. And you will die. But no one from their families is dying this way. And they also are teaching you how to pray, prayers of great hatred for others. But we know that in our Lord and Savior, there is no hate. The Lord tells us to love our enemies and bless them that hate you, which is not what I hear when I hear you chant, Etbah el Yehud! Ermium el bahar! (meaning, “Butcher the Jews! Cast them into the sea!”).
This time they asked me to show them in the Bible where it is written that the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people. I quickly read them Genesis 13:14–17, where God told Abraham, “For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever.” I also read to them from Exodus 23 and showed them where the borders of the land are. Now they listened even more earnestly. So I read all the Lord told Abraham in Genesis, and I also read Deuteronomy 7:6–8. “It is not written here about Islam,” I said. I also showed them Psalm 124, where it says the Lord is on Israel’s side.
I could see they had become afraid to speak. So I said, “Today we have spoken as friends. Why? Because we spoke in the name of the Lord.”
To my surprise, they replied, “Thank you.”