Israeli-Palestinian conflict comes to Calvin in form of concert, lecture
What do a Jewish musician and a Palestinian Christian have in common?
There’s no punch line to this one, except to say that both individuals will be on campus this Thursday, April 25, as part of a day-long event organized by the Middle East Club, the Social Justice Coalition and Cave Café.
First, at 3:30 p.m. in the Chapel undercroft, Daniel Bannoura, a Palestinian Christian, will be giving a lecture about his experiences being a Christian in that culture.
“He’s a cool guy,” says Audrey Hughey, treasurer of the Middle East Club. “He’s a native Palestinian Christian who talks about theology in the Palestinian church and about what it means to be a Christian in that conflict.”
Second, the two clubs will partner with Cave Café to bring Joshua Davis, a Jewish singer-songwriter, to campus for a concert.
Davis took a trip to Israel-Palestine in February of 2012 to work with a nonprofit organization called On The Ground.
“He was inspired to write his latest album, which is about how he as a Jewish-American found himself shaped and challenged, both in his Jewish faith and his personal political stances as an American,” says Jordan E. Davis, co-president of the Middle East Club (no relation to Joshua Davis).
“The concert is a concert slash discussion,” says Jordan Davis. “He’ll do a song, then he talks for a bit, then another song.”
The Middle East Club, Social Justice Coalition and Cave Café are not hosting the event in order to suggest that Calvin students take a particular stance on the issue of creating a Jewish state versus leaving the country open to Israelis or Palestinians. Rather, they hope to represent both sides of the subject.
“In Christian circles you tend to get only the pro-Israeli side. But we really want to show Calvin students that this is more than that, it’s a human rights issue. It doesn’t make sense for Christians not to get involved,” says Hughey.
It is important for American Christians in particular to pay attention to the conflict, Jordan Davis and Hughey say, because Israel receives the most funding from the United States of any other country. Israel is also the Holy Land of Christianity, so it is of particular value to many Christians.
“There’s a tension between the social justice or humans rights issues and the religious issues,” says Hughey. “Where religion stops and human rights begins is a fuzzy line. Israel wants to create a Jewish state, but we have to look at how that impacts other religions, including Christianity.”
The groups also hope to inspire Calvin students toward action.
“The club is trying to start a conversation and hope it continues,” says Priscilla Lin, Middle East Club member and Cave Café leader. “It’s not just sit and listen and leave.”
“We want to get people thinking and tailing and asking questions,” agrees Hughey. “Is there something I should do about it? Do I want to know more?”
Jordan Davis offers a way for Calvin students to get involved. “CRC World Missions has an initiative called Hope Equals. It’s a peace movement, a group specifically created to address Israel and Palestine and to discuss how the church should react to that,” he says.
“They’re kind of like a resource center for anything you want to know about the issue. They also connect us to volunteer opportunities to go to Israel-Palestine and ways to help in the greater Grand Rapids area.”
The lecture by Bannoura and the concert by Joshua Davis take place at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the Chapel undercroft and the Fish House, respectively. Club members will be at both to facilitate discussion and answer questions about the conflict.
“We try to be pro-people,” says Hughey. “We try to raise a voice for those that are oppressed in the Middle East. The goal of this event is to show that it’s complicated. It’s more than just what you hear.”