For International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian Peoples today, Allyson Kenny reflects on her recent experience interviewing Dr. Naim Ateek, a Christian Palestinian activist.
The interview will air on Catholic Focus on Wednesday, December 5th at 7 PM ET.
Producing a show that involves the Palestine-Israel conflict can be a tricky tightrope to walk. This issue is a contentious one, laden with passionate emotion on either side. And the broader faith-related context surrounding the conflict can’t be denied; while the struggle in the state of Israel is not about religion, it involves a people whose religion has been used to discriminate against them for centuries, the Jews.
For these reasons and more (to talk about all the sensitive points on this topic would take a book, not a blog), there is often a tendency by media to discuss the conflict in a highly polarized way. I wanted to make sure I balanced my telling of this story to the greatest extent possible and to let Dr. Naim Ateek, a prominent Palestinian activist, tell his own story, using his own words.
Allyson Kenny interviews Dr. Naim Ateek for Catholic Focus
Personally, I have no vested interest on either side of this struggle. I am not a Palestinian nor an Israeli. I have never been to the Holy Land and have no close friends whose lives are directly impacted. I myself am not a Jew. Truthfully, I didn’t have a strong grasp of the conflict before I began my research for this interview. And without having lived it, or continuing to live through it, I don’t believe I ever will. Instead, what I am is someone with a keen sense of my privileged position of relative security and comfort as a Westerner living in a peaceful country like Canada. What I have to offer is another one of my privileges, my platform working in media, which can be lent to those whose voices are marginalized by structural or societal forms of violence.
The Palestinian people have been displaced in a worldwide diaspora since 1948, and living conditions in the areas of Gaza and the West Bank are harsh, including the worst unemployment rates in the world in the Gaza Strip (note: at just 25 minutes long, this program did not have the capacity to broach a discussion on the role of Hamas in the Gaza Strip or in the Israel-Palestine conflict as a whole). To me, this certainly qualifies a Palestinian point of view as worthy of lending the media spotlight for a moment.
I’m glad that I had the opportunity to let Dr. Naim Ateek explain how he views the Palestine-Israel conflict through a trio of lenses: as a Palestinian, an Arab, and a Christian. I hope viewers will come away from this episode feeling that they have a greater understanding of why many Palestinians feel so enraged over what has happened in the Holy Land during the 20th century to present, and will seek to educate themselves further about both liberation theology and the Palestine-Israel conflict, too.