Joint Statement on Israel/Gaza
July 22, 2014
Imam Mohamed Magid & Rabbi Michael G. Holzman
The current military operations in Israel and the Gaza strip should disturb all people of faith. The only moral path to a solution between Israelis and Palestinians (Israeli Jewish/Muslim/Christian and Palestinian Muslim/Christian) will be dialogue and negotiation. This is a long and arduous path, but the faith that grounds our traditions can sustain the slow evolution of history. The current conflict is an outgrowth of over a century of opposing narratives and ideological differences that no military operations can resolve.
Our traditions exist to uphold the moral foundations for civilizations and as such we urge an end to the current violence. While we acknowledge the need for self defense, when the can of violence opens, as it has now, worms of vengeance and blood-feud crawl out. Then people begin to abandon the principles of justice and mercy upon which civilizations are founded. Instead they turn to more tribal urges, seeking retribution for past wrongs.
We believe the current violence crosses that line. At some point people cease looking for solutions and instead succumb to base human urges for violence. They crave the blood of the enemy to compensate for the pain of loss. This is the way of our animal instincts, the ethos of ancient tribes and clans who exist only to protect all within, while opposing all others. The teachings of our ancestors rose above that thinking long ago to build great civilizations. We believe that when we look to our texts and traditions we can rise above the narrative of suffering and victimization to find roads to healing and wholeness.
The Torah this week teaches of the “Cities of Refuge” (Numbers 35: 6-28) places where a person can flee after an accidental death or manslaughter in order so that relatives of the deceased cannot exact revenge. The one who flees must face criminal justice, and the City of Refuge serves as both a haven and prison for the man slaughterer while restricting the blood thirst of the avenger. The people living in Israel and Gaza can look at the current situation and see only murder and intentional killing, or they can see how decades of hatred breed spontaneous violence. In these heated emotions, our traditions call for cooling off, seeking refuge, and then finding a path to justice. Only through such systems can order and peace be restored.
Several verses from the Quran also give us reminders to work for the protection of life and how to respond with good and forgiveness in times of major challenge and conflict.
“Good and wrong cannot be equal; repel wrong with something which is better and verily he between whom and thyself was enmity may then become as though he had always been a close, true friend.” (Quran 41:34)
The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from God: for (God) loveth not those who do wrong(Quran 42:40)
“Whoever kills a person, unless [as punishment through due process] for murder or mischief in the land, it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.” (Quran 5:32)
While we do not pretend to know the pain of the mourners, we also urge them to honor their loved ones not through the tribal urge for revenge, but rather to build up societies of justice and mercy.
These values are the cornerstones of civilization and the paving stones to peace. Seeking more blood for blood only perverts and discards the great traditions of Islam and Judaism. We abandoned an “eye for an eye” centuries ago. Now we urge our brothers and sisters in the Middle East to seek a solution that protects the self while fostering compassion for the other.
Hope and despair. For years, we were tossed back and forth between one and the other. Today, most Israelis and Palestinians seem to be in a gloomy, flat, state of mind, one with no horizon; dully comatose, a self-induced numbness.
Today, in an Israel that has known so much disappointment, hope (if ever mentioned at all) is always hesitant, a bit timid, and apologetic. Despair, on the other hand, is utterly confident and self-assured, as if speaking on behalf of a law of nature, an axiom that states that between these two peoples there shall never be peace, that the war between them is a heavenly decree, and that altogether, it will always be bad here, nothing but bad. As despair sees it, anyone who still hopes, who still believes in the possibility of peace, is at best naïve, or a deluded dreamer, and at worst, a traitor who weakens Israel’s wherewithal by encouraging it to be seduced by false visions.
In this sense, the Israeli right has won. The right, which adheres to this worldview – certainly over the last decades – has managed to instill it in a majority of Israelis. One could say that the right has not only vanquished the left: It has vanquished Israel. And not just because this pessimistic worldview is pushing Israel into paralysis in the area most fateful to its survival, the area where boldness and flexibility and creativity are required; the right has vanquished Israel by crushing what once could have been called “the Israeli spirit”: that spark, the ability to remake ourselves, that “nevertheless” spirit, and courage. And hope. Continue reading “David Grossman – On hope and despair in the Middle East”
I believe it is important to start recognising the right of Israel to exist as a state, however ambiguous was its beginning. It is obvious we cannot go back to the situation before 1948.
Also, I really doubt a two state solution is viable anymore. A short glimpse at the Schweitzer-like map of West Bank above, with the separating wall of shame, with all the Israeli settlements and roads, built on stolen Palestinian land, should convince you of that. Peace and occupation, with its apartheid-like separation is totally incompatible with peace. Violence, on both sides, as condemnable as it is, is unavoidable if the present status quo continues.
The right to return for the over 700,000 Palestinian pushed out of their homes in the Nakhba is very problematic, and controversial, because of its demographic implications, which would make impossible the present anachronistic and unsustainable definition of Israel as an ethnic state. But its a priori refusal by the Israeli government makes impossible for the Palestinians to accept the right of Israel to exist.
Continue reading “Some Considerations on A Possible Solution in the Israel/Palestine Conflict”
A World Vision update.
Please pray for peace in Palestine and Israel.
Miko Peled was born in Jersusalem into a famous and influential Israeli Zionist family. His father was a famous General in the Israeli Army, of which Miko also served his time. When Miko’s niece was killed by Palestinian suicide bombers, you may have expected the family to put Palestinians at fault, but surprisingly they blamed the state of Israel, and their violent torturing and persecution for driving people to such sadness that they would take their own lives. Continue reading “An Honest Israeli Jew Tells the Real Truth about Israel”
This was an absolutely brilliant presentation.
Dr. Yohanna Katanacho teaches Biblical studies at Bethlehem Bible College.
Colin Chapman is one of the most important Protestant specialists in Islam.
This dialogue has been for me the absolute highlight of this conference. The irenic dialogue between Gary Burge, a critique of Christian Zionism, and Daniel Juster, a leader of Messianic Christians was a model for the way that Christians holding strongly opposing views on important matters should engage with each others.
Pictures from the horrible pogrom in Iasi, June 1941, in which 13,266 Jews were killed by the Romanian army, instigated by German military authorities. There were also civilians involved in these atrocities, especially members of the Iron Guard, but, thankfully, there were also Romanian civilians who defended the Jews, at least three of them being killed for cause of their actions. Continue reading “Yad Vashem – The Pogrom in Iasi”
Addressing Christian Zionists who brush aside the occupation by saying, ‘it’s complicated,’ an American Evangelical writes: ‘Injustice is only complicated to those who don’t suffer from it.’
What would Jesus do if he were standing at a checkpoint in Israel/Palestine today? Asked that question one year ago, I would have given you a blank stare. Growing up as an evangelical Christian, I thought of Israel only as a Bible-place of God’s chosen people, quaintly holy and surely blessed. Checkpoints, occupation, Palestine – these words meant nothing for most of my 22-year-old life.
Today I write from Bethlehem at the end of “Christ at the Checkpoint,” a Christian conference that asked “WWJD?” in context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and I have an answer. Continue reading “Alice Su – An Open Letter to Evangelical Supporters of Israel”
This is the first in a series of recordings I will post on my blog from the 3rd conference Christ at the Checkpoint in which I participated in Bethlehem, Palestine.
Salim Munayer, from Musalaha, speaks at the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference March 11, 2014.
You may find HERE recordings from the previous (2012) conference.
(Source of picture, HERE)
The diversity and vitality of Christians in Palestine and Israel is startling if one takes into account the presence of all Christians from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. These Christians live in one of the more challenging areas of the world working out a dynamic ecumenical vision of which few in the West are aware.
Christians in Israel and Palestine include: 1. Hebrew-speaking Palestinian-Arab Israelis who belong to one of the thirteen traditional Palestinian Churches (see author’s note in the References section), 2. Palestinians who belong to one of the thirteen Churches, 3. Palestinian-Arab Israeli and Palestinian Protestants who belong to newer evangelical denominations, 4. Messianic Jews who do not consider themselves Christians but who are committed to Jesus Christ as their savior, 5. Russian-Israeli Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants, 6. migrant workers—largely from the Philippines and an undetermined number from Latin-America, 7. asylum seekers from Africa, 8. expatriates employed by, or volunteering in, churches, NGOs and foreign governments, and 9. millions of tourists and pilgrims. Continue reading “Paul Parker – The Challenges of Christian Ecumenism in Israel and Palestine”
1. From Tel Aviv
Let me start with a map. The distance from the Jordan river (border of Jordan) to the Mediterranean Sea in the center of Israel is just over 40 miles. Everything is compressed. There isn’t a lot of physical space. And that space holds a lot of history.
Almost anywhere you dig, literally anywhere, you will find layer upon layer of different cultures and civilizations. And that space holds a lot of different peoples. The distinction between Arabs and Jews doesn’t begin to express it. There are many kinds of each, including not only theological divisions but essentially ethnic divisions as well.
But it isn’t just different peoples. It is different worldviews and viewpoints. And these struggle with space and for space; social, psychological, and spiritual. We have heard about the difficulty for politicians to “remain within the consensus,” meaning the current multi-party government, when a large part of the constituency wants to break out over sometimes minute ideological issues. But issues critical to their sense of community identity. We have heard of how women struggle to stay within orthodoxy because they do not want to suffer the dual punishment of facing both misogyny and exile from their community and tradition. Continue reading “Robert Hunt – A Second Letter from Jerusalem”
(source of picture, here)
It is New Years Eve 2013. I am sitting in a bar drinking arak on the rocks. Alone, mostly. Next to me a table of well heeled, mature, Italians are popping bottles of prosecco and passing around photos of themselves in solemn procession with a huge cross on the Via Dolorosa. Since a priest is doing the honors with a couple of large panettone cakes I think its clear they’ve shifted gears. So in a world of mixed sentiments the festival closest in memory stirs them to sing “Silent Night” in Italian. Really? Okay, now they’ve launched into a sentimental Italian quasi operatic pop song (which is actually all Italian pop.) Before long . . . Sure enough they are gathered around the piano player (who paused in his endless series of old broadway show tunes) and they are singing “Que Sera Sera.”
I need another arak on the rocks. Continue reading “Robert Hunt – A New Year in Jerusalem”
If you have seen the documentary I posted yesterday, you may also be interested in the trailer of this movie on the rescue of Jews by Albanians.
BESA: The Promise weaves Albania’s heroism in WWII through the vérité journeys of two men.
One is Norman Gershman, a renowned American photographer determined to document first-person accounts of the Albanians who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.
The other is Rexhep Hoxha, an Albanian shopkeeper. Rexhep must fulfill the promise made to a Jewish family his Muslim father rescued during the Holocaust and return to them a set of Hebrew books they left behind.
And Rexhep’s promise is more than words — it’s part of his besa — an honor code that, among other things, pledges all Albanians to offer safe harbor to refugees. Continue reading “Besa: The Promise”
A documentary film about the Jewish rescue in Albania during World War II. A story told by Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, who speak about the nobility of the Albanian people who put their own lives in danger in order to save those of their visitors. A touchy recollection of events and ordeals that Albanians and Jews went through before, during and after WWII. Produced by INIT.
Rev. Stephen Sizer is the vicar of Christ Church, the community church of Virginia Water in Surrey, England.
This presentation is a summary of my book Zion’s Christian Soldiers published by IVP. stephensizer.com/books/zions-christian-soldiers/
It was delivered at the Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding Executive Briefing in Fremont, California in November 2011. emeu.net
It was also delivered at the Christ at the Checkpoint conference in Bethlehem in March 2012. christatthecheckpoint.com/
An outline of this presentation is available here sizers.org/articles/7answers.pdf
A set of Bible studies is available here withgodonourside.com/Study%20Guide/WGOOS%20Study%20Guide.pdf
To purchase a copy of this presentation on DVD visit emeu.net
Here is the summary of this presentation in PDF form.
This is clearly going to make some waves among the so-called Christian Zionists.
Puteti descarca AICI aceasta carte in format digital.
Felicitari prietenului meu, George Samoila, pentru munca depusa pentru scoaterea la lumina a biografiei acestui neglijat lider crestin interbelic, care a avut o influenta importanta in formarea lui Richard Wurmbrand.
Huffington Post writes about a remarkable event that took place recently at Auschwitz. A group of imams from various parts of the Muslim world visited the Nazi death camp and prayed for the victims of the Holocaust.
Here the beginning of this article.
* * *
Muslim leaders from across the globe paid tribute Holocaust victims this week during a visit to Auschwitz, the former Nazi concentration camp, where they prayed at the Wall of Death for those who were killed by genocide and suffered under violent anti-Semitism.
The imams, who hailed from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bosnia, Palestine, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey and the United States, performed Islamic prayers while facing Mecca as part of a Holocaust awareness visit funded in part by the International Religious Freedom office of the U.S. State Department. Continue reading “Imams Visit Auschwitz Nazi Death Camp and Pray For Holocaust Victims”
The report attached below, which was published recently on the website of the Church of Scotland, was subsequently removed from the site, most probably at the pressure of the Jewish lobby in Great Britain, and replaced with the following statement:
The Church of Scotland and representatives of the Jewish Community in Scotland and the United Kingdom, held useful discussions facilitated by the Council of Christians and Jews this afternoon (Thursday 8 May). We agreed that the drafting of the report published by the Church and Society Council for discussion at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has given cause for concern and misunderstanding of its position and requires a new introduction to set the context for the report and give clarity about some of the language used. Continue reading “Church of Scotland – The Inheritance of Abraham. A Report on the ‘Promised Land’”
When a Palestinian boy loses half of his home to Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem, he joins his community in a campaign of nonviolent protests. Efforts to put a quick end to the demonstrations are foiled when scores of Israelis choose to stand by the residents’ side.
A Just Vision Film
Directed and Produced by Julia Bacha & Rebekah Wingert-Jabi
Executive Produced by Ronit Avni
Co-Produced by Jessica Devaney, Irene Nasser, Rula Salameh, Vicky Wingert Continue reading “My Neighbourhood – An Eye Opening Documentary”
Isaac Feinstein – a martyr for Christ in Romania
Kai Kjær-Hansen, International Coordinator of Lausanne Consultation on Jewish Evangelism (LCJE)
Jewish believers from the past
Tonight it is going to be about Isaac.
The first Isaac, the Isaac in the biblical story, was spared by God. In Isaac’s stead was sacrificed a ram. When it comes to this evening’s Isaac – Isaac Feinstein – God did not spare him.
Isaac Feinstein, a Romanian Jesus-believing Jew, breathed his last in the summer of 1941 in a cattle car outside the town of Jassy in north-eastern Romania, together with about 140 other Jews. He literally expired, the cause of death being suffocation due to lack of oxygen in the overfull cattle car. He had not yet turned 40 and he was the father of six children with his Lydia, whom he had married in 1928. She was Swiss and had worked as a teacher in one of the English mission schools in Bucharest. Continue reading “Isaac Feinstein – A Martyr for Christ in Romania”
Isac Feinstein and my rebirth
The man who was to play a very special role in all this was
Isac Feinstein, one of the most glorious triumphs the grace of
Jesus has won among the Jewish people.
At the time of his conversion he was a minor business executive.
One evening, in a Christian gathering, he heard the message of
Jesus. Immediately he believed. When he came home, he ran up
to the bedroom of his parents, who had already retired for the
night, woke them up and exclaimed : “I have found the Messiah !” Continue reading “Richard Wurmbrand – Isaac Feinstein and My Rebirth”
The assault by Islamist thugs – with the apparent connivance of Egyptian government security forces – on a funeral at the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo on Sunday may be looked back upon as a grim milestone.
It wasn’t just that two people were killed and 90 hospitalized. This wasn’t just a violation, by hoodlums and police alike, of the revered center of an ancient religious tradition and community. It was rather that the whole idea of a tolerant, pluralistic Egypt – one that can fully include, honor, and respect its Coptic minority – came under a physical, psychological, and, most importantly, political assault of the first magnitude.
As Egypt goes, so goes the Middle East. If the Coptic community of Egypt is thus abused, disparaged, and attacked, what kind of societies are emerging in the Arab world? The regional implications are chilling. Continue reading “Hussein Ibish – Fate of Christians Will Define the Arab Future”
I’ve been to Israel a number of times, most often leading tour groups. Each time, leaving Bethlehem I would insist our Israeli driver stop by Bethlehem Bible College so I could visit its president, Bishara Awad. I tried to keep myself abreast of the goings on within Israel and the occupied areas of the West Bank and Gaza, the strip on the Mediterranean. But never had I taken time to actually stay with my Palestinian friends. They would periodically visit Tyndale and students loved to hear their story. But I admit, too frequently Yasir Arafat and his cronies angered me by their seeming endless whining and refusal to admit Israel had legitimacy as a state with the right to defend itself. I assumed the Palestinians had had sufficient opportunity to find a deal with Israel, especially when Arafat turned down the Camp David offer.
So, as my friends know, I have and do support the establishing of the State of Israel. Finding a place for Jews in the 20th Century was the right thing to do. As well, God’s covenant with the Jews stands and their place in the eschaton (the days of Christ’s return) is assured. There is no equivocation in my mind of their critical place in the economy and agenda of the Lord.
This winter I decided I needed to go and live there, only for a few days, to see it through the eyes of my Palestinian brethren. Since this role as global ambassador, I’ve learned nothing can compare with walking in the steps of those you wish to understand. There is no substitute for sitting in their homes, listening to their stories, asking questions of their children, driving their streets, sitting in worship services, praying before and after meals. It was in this recent visit that I faced conflicting messages I could no longer ignore. Continue reading “Brian Stiller – Dispatch from the West Bank. A Confession”
This is a topic worth considering, but it is often avoided because of the aggressive Zionist that dominates much of evangelicalism.
“We are doing this mass to pray [to] God, because nobody is hearing us. Just God can hear our prayers and He can change the mind of all the people who are putting injustice on the Palestinian people. We are losing our land, Americans are doing nothing for us, Europe is doing nothing for us, just God can help us change the mind of everybody to give us back our own land”.
It may surprise you, but these are not the words of some Islamist fanatic, looking to sweep the Jewish people into the sea and create a medieval Islamic caliphate in Palestine. These are the words of Father Ibrahim Shomali, the Catholic priest of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, as he celebrates an open-air mass in the beautiful Cremisan valley. His mass takes place every Friday, as a sign of protest against a planned extension of Israel’s separation barrier which will lead to the confiscation of yet more Palestinian Christian land.
In October 2012, the Foreign Secretary William Hague, a politician not known for his activism on behalf of the Palestinians (as his ill-judged statement on Palestine’s application for non-member observer status at the UN demonstrated), formed an improbable alliance with the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, to protest against Israeli plans to extend its separation barrier near Bethlehem. The extended barrier will run between Cremisan’s famous wine-making monastery and convent, separating the two establishments and cutting off the monks from the local Christian community in Beit Jala. It will also separate the convent and more than 50 families from land they own. Continue reading “Palestinian Christians: the forgotten faithful”
(Source of picture, HERE)
Two recent articles in Der Spiegel discuss the debated issue of the correct definition of anti-Semitism. The background of this discussion is the fact that Der Spiegel journalist Ronen Bergman was labeled as being anti-Semitic because of his criticism of the attitude of the Israeli government towards Palestinians in the occupied territories..
In fact, as Bergman rightly points out, quite deliberately, and as an insidious means of guilt manipulation, ‘in recent years, Israeli Jews have often confused anti-Israel rhetoric with anti-Semitism. One cannot legitimately criticise the abuses of the Israeli government towards the Palestinians without being accused of being anti-Semitic and becoming the target of hate speech. It happened to me countless times in the last years. So, what is really anti-Semitism?
Here is a fragment from a polemic between Spiegel columnist Jakob Augstein, himself accused of anti-Semitism by the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center because of his criticism to the Israeli government, and Dieter Graumann, leader of the Jewish community in Germany: Continue reading “What Is Anti-Semitism?”
Recently, I was among more than 400 American rabbis, cantors and rabbinical and cantorial students who signed an open letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressing our deepest concern about his government’s latest settlement decisions.
What especially prompted the letter was a decision he and his government took to build a new settlement in an area east of Jerusalem known as E1, which every prime minister since Yitzhak Rabin has promised the United States that Israel would not undertake in advance of a final-status negotiations. If built, this settlement would cut off the north and south of the West Bank and effectively block the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state. We see the building of E1 as a dagger aimed at the heart of a two-state solution.
Nobody who signed the document did so lightly. It is always difficult for spiritual leaders to take controversial decisions, and it has been especially difficult for American Jewish leaders to openly dissent from the government of Israel.
But I and my fellow signers believe we have a Jewish and moral obligation to speak out now because decisions such as this are endangering the basic principles on which Israel was established — democracy, respect for human rights, tolerance of minorities and political and religious pluralism. We also believe that without a two-state solution, Israel’s very security and safety will be threatened. Continue reading “Rabbi John L. Rosov – An Honorable Tradition: Rabbis Dissent on E1 Settlement Plans for the Sake of Israel”