Munther Isaac,  The Other Side of the Wall

Study Questions for Chapters 5 & 6

Trinity UCC
Lent, 2024


Chapter 5: Who is my Neighbor?

1. What shapes your identity? Consider how your identity might separate you – create a wall – between you and someone whose identity is different. How do you respond to Pastor Munther’s statement that the fate of Palestinians (and Jews) cannot depend on what the Bible (and Western interpretations of it) said thousands of years ago about the descendants of Abraham and Ishmael?

2. Reflect on Pastor Munther’s questions: “Do we love our neighbors as ourselves? Have we even identified our neighbors? Who is my neighbor?”

3. Describe some of the difficulties that Pastor Munther sees in “othering” people who might be different from you/us. Why do we “other” people anyway? Are there ways in which communities that you belong to might define themselves by who they are not?

4. Consider walls as an ultimate way in which we separate ourselves from “the other.”  One example: gated communities here in the US. Consider how some politicians have used completing the southern border wall to keep out “illegal aliens” as a campaign slogan. What are some of the tangible results of building walls? What were your feelings when the Berlin Wall fell?

5. Reflect on Pastor Munther’s words: “when we do not engage one another we will never be able to humanize one another” (p. 107). How do we as Christians lose credibility when we do not protest the injustice and mistreatment of people of other faiths?

6. Reflect on the questions that Pastor Munther poses on the familiar parable of the good Samaritan. How might you retell the story today? Who would you cast in the role of the Samaritan or the religious elites who “walked by on the other side?”  What do you think of the idea that in this parable, Jesus tells us to do likewise, not think likewise?

7. Reflect on the quote: (p. 115) “;…we exist as a church today, in Palestine and around the world, for the sake of the faceless and nameless – to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and defend, comfort, protect and give value and worth to the vulnerable and neglected.”

8. What new learning or insight did you gain from reading this chapter? What might you take into your prayer or devotional time?



Chapter 6: My Jewish Neighbor

(Note:  two definitions of anti-Semitism worth studying have been developed: 1) the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance [IHRA-].  This has been accepted by the U.S. as the “official” definition, and includes eleven examples which include criticism of the state of Israel. 2) the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism (JDA developed by scholars in Holocaust history, Jewish studies and Middle East studies.  It is much more nuanced than that of the IHRA.)

1. Reflect on Pastor Munther’s definition of anti-Semitism; how would you define it? Who is and is not “allowed” to define it, and what happens when people’s definitions collide?

2. What is your key “take-away” from Pastor Munther’s response to: a) the arguments for opposing anti-Semitism proposed by Russell Moore and John Piper, and b) the idea that Christians first and foremost have an “unbreakable bond” with the Jewish people? [Note: this “unbreakable bond” shows up in our foreign policy which allows the state of Israel much more foreign aid than is received by other nations, and gives it special privileges regarding how this aid is dispersed. For details see Mersheimer, John and Walt, Stephen (2007) The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy NY:  Farrar, Straus & Giroux].

3. What is your key “take-away” from Pastor Munther’s discussion of Romans 9-11 regarding the “grafting” of both Christians and Jews into the same tree?

4. Replacement theology is a Christian perspective that subscribes to the belief that Christianity and superseded or replaced the Mosaic covenant, and that Christianity has become the “new” Israel (defined as “people of God.”) How do you respond to Pastor Munther’s discussion of this?

5. Many Christians view the founding of the state of Israel as a prelude to Jesus’ return in the “end times,” and believe that when these times are fulfilled, that the Jews will either be converted or will perish. Does this view strike you as anti-Semitic?  What do you make of the fact that many Israelis are willing to accept this position so long as its Christian adherents provide them with financial and political support?

6. Respond to the belief that Israel cannot be both Jewish and democratic at the same time. Is this not what “apartheid” is all about?  Consider the statement in the Kairos document that says that “trying to make a state a religious state, Jewish or Islamic, suffocates the state, confines it within narrow limits, and transforms it into a state that practices discrimination and exclusion, preferring one citizen over another.”

7. Reflect on the fact that it was European anti-Semitism that created the state of Israel in the first place. Shouldn’t Jews feel safe everywhere?

8. How do you understand the differences between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism? What happens when these are conflated?  By the same token, equating Judaism with right-wing Zionism (especially by non-Jews) is also problematic (see discussion on pp. 132-133).

9. Check out the websites of organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace (; the human rights organization B’tselem ( or Rabbis for Human Rights ( How might Christians support and/or partner with the work of these organizations to further a just peace for all in the Holy Land?

10. Reflect on Pastor Munther’s suggestions for truly loving our Jewish neighbors, and on his experiences trying to understand the trauma that the occupation is causing in the souls of his Jewish neighbors.

11. Reflect on the following: “resistance is a right and a duty for the Christian.  But it is resistance with love as its logic. …Resistance to the evil of occupation is integrated, then within this Christian love that refuses evil and corrects it.”  How might we become more accustomed to seeing the image of God in our enemies, seeking to engage their humanity thus allowing God to transform enemies into friends?

12.  What new learning or insight did you gain from reading this chapter?  What might you take into your prayer or devotional time?


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