Shanti Sena Stories: Turning the Other Cheek, Palestinian Style
2007 July 5
“When someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other one to him as well” – Jesus of Nazareth, as recorded in Matthew 5: 39
When men fought, in the time of Jesus, they were not allowed to use their left hand. So the only way to strike someone’s right cheek was to backhand him – because he was your slave (or your child or your wife).
So what Jesus taught was, “Do not resist evil with violence. If someone slaps your face backhand,” to insult and humiliate and dominate you as an inferior, “turn your other cheek,” as if to say ‘Now hit me forehand, as an equal. Or don’t hit me at all. But I refuse to be insulted or humiliated as an inferior. Nor will I insult or humiliate you in return. We are, in the eyes of God, equals. We are brothers.’
Today we watched Israeli soldiers humiliate a Palestinian. They pushed him behind a heavy iron guard box, kicked his feet apart, spread his arms, and searched him roughly. They detained another group of Palestinians for half an hour, for no reason except that they are Palestinians and the soldiers want to show their power and control. (Actually, this happens many times every day.)
But today, when they were released, one of the Palestinians walked over to the soldiers, casually took out a cigarette, and asked for a ‘light’. His body language and demeanor said, loudly and clearly, “I refuse to be humiliated. You have not succeeded. You are my friends, not my masters.”