Dr. Salim Munayer is the founder of Musalaha, a faith-based organization that teaches, trains and facilitates reconciliation mainly between Israelis and Palestinians from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, and also international groups, based on biblical principles of reconciliation as taught by Jesus. Salim’s material is included as part of the curriculum at Pepperdine University along with another university in the U.K..
Salim is the author of Journey Through the Storm and Through My Enemy’s Eyes: Envisioning Reconciliation in Israel-Palestine.
We follow the Prince of Peace, so we should bring peace to those around us.
In initial attempts to bring people together, it did not go well. In large part, this was because we do not have a solid understanding of the theology of reconciliation.
Too often we see reconciliation as something that happens between us as individuals and with God rather than seeing how reconciliation should also happen between us and others.
14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.– 2 Corinthians 5:14-21
What is Conflict?
Conflict comes in many forms and expressions. It can range from a minor disagreement between two people to international war.
Conflict is an unavoidable element of life. There is a potential for disaster in any conflict, but there is also the potential for positive change.
Often, if people are happy they are not as willing to change.
If you think all is ok, you will not be as open to the changes needed to make things better.
Three Main Sources of Conflict:
- As people our differences can create disagreement.
- Human subjectivity.
- Competition over resources.
We need to be more patient with each other and accepting of our different perspectives.
- The conflict is larger (in terms of involving more people) than individual conflicts.
- Same vs. Other / Us vs. Them = Intergroup conflict expressed by dehumanizing others.
- When the rights or needs of a group are not being met, a group will fight for them.
- Many of these needs are connected to identity.
The Reverse Refrigerator Effect:
- Normally a refrigerator cools everything that inside of it, and as a result emits heat into the outside world.
- Identifying with a group focuses on inner warmth, everyone within the group benefits from the heat.
- However, because of the inner heat, cold exclusion is offered to everyone outside the group.
- This is how the ‘Us vs. Them’ attitude develops.
Competition between groups creates enmity.
Internal cohesion of a group is contingent on the level of external pressure.
Conflict and Identity (Simmel’s Rule)
The pressure challenges or denies our needs, and since each need is an essential part of what makes us who we are, when
Our Five Basic Needs:
- Meaning – how we understand the world and basic principles such as justice, truth, and value. Other groups are threatening because they are calling our forms of meaning into question. Competing religious, political, and ideological meanings contribute to the conflict. If angry then area of threat is meaning.
- Connectedness – our sense of belonging and community expressed through language, tribe, religion, etc.. When this is denied we can feel lonely and alienated.
- Security – our physical security, as well as a guarantee of our basic human rights, which include emotional, spiritual, and economic security. Security relates to connectedness. Fear can lead to violence.
- Action – our feeling of being in control, and/or in charge of our environment. When we are denied action, and our power, autonomy and agency are limited, we feel a sense of depression and resignation. (This happens in the U.S. as well through racial profiling, incarceration, and gated communities).
- Recognition – our need to be recognized and acknowledged for our actions. We feel shame when we are not recognized. It is important to acknowledge wrongdoing.
Jesus said that we will find fulfillment when we realize who we are as created in the image of God.
So how do we bring change to our world that is so broken?
1. Look for ways to bring meaning, connectedness, security, action, and recognition to others in your lives. Understanding the needs of others is a way of
2. Bring peace to your home, your neighborhood, and your place of work.