- You were Welsh,
- and you lived in Wales,
- and the English built a wall between England and Wales?
- the English built a wall actually into Wales, dividing up villages and farms,
- and stopped you from going to England, even to a nearby hospital?
- built English towns inside Wales,
- and joined their towns with roads that only they could use?
- made it almost impossible for you to build houses in your country, and destroyed houses already there that they said were illegal?
Suppose the English did all this and forced it on you by military force, what would you feel then?
You would feel
Full of despair
The whole idea is ridiculous.
It would be so unjust.
So how do you think the Palestinians feel?
This scenario is suggested by Friends of Sabeel UK, and describes the situation using England/Wales instead of Israel/Palestine. The feelings expressed here are a natural consequence of colonization and occupation. This describes a present Palestinian reality, and it can be traced back to the 19th century political ideology and aspiration of European, secular Jews, that found expression in the events of May 15th 1948.
In a ‘meeting of ministers’ just before the British general election, the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, answered my question about this intractible problem. Although he answered very well and showed knoweldge and integrity, he did admit to me that this one issue is the single biggest problem he faces.
This is the Day Israel celebrates as Independence, and the Palestinian Muslims and Christians as ‘Al-Nakba’ or catastrophe. The whole world needs to turn this event from a catastrophe to a eucatastrophe, and in this regard, the Church, with her Resurrected Lord, must be at the forefront of this, instead of the eschatological horror show that is Christian Zionism.
Leading up to (yet) another anniversary of the ‘catastrophe’, or ‘Al-Nakba’, of the Palestinian people following the events prior and up to and since 15th May 1948, I will be posting excerpts highlighting this tragic situation from various angles. I have taken my lead from the excellent book ‘Palestinian Memories‘ by Palestinian theologian Alex Awad, Dean of Bethlehem Bible College and pastor of international East Jerusalem Baptist Church:
“Many Westerners view the Arab-Israeli conflict through distorted lenses, and not surprisingly, their understandings of the realities on the ground is influenced by blurred, false or partial information.
Notably, numerous Christians in the United States and the West view the Arab-Israeli conflict from a perspective strongly influenced by popular sentiment relating to Biblical Israel and its place in the Promised Land and the way in which all of this relates to the political entity that is modern Israel. Pro-Israel groups such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and the powerful Jewish-American lobby, have also had a significant effect on both Christian and secular perceptions.
These organizations influence – not control, but influence – many American institutions, including branches of government and the media. In addition, Hollywood has contributed much towards shaping Westerners’ distorted perceptions of the Middle East, with many popular films advancing the very worst stereotyped, comic-book portrayals of Arabs, be it the murderous terrorist, the “primitive” nomad, or the depraved oil sheik.
The events of September 11, 2001 have also resulted, perhaps understandably, in even greater polarization between the Arab and Western worlds. All these factors, combined with the tragic history of the Jews in Europe over the centuries, culminating in the Halocaust, have molded the lenses through which Westerners usually view the Arab-Israeli conflict. The purpose of [my writing], then, is to offer an overview of the land, its history and its people, one that might challenge and alter the prevailing assumptions with which the conflict is commonly seen.”
This trip is very special as it is led by Rev. Naim Ateek, the father of Palestinian Liberation Theology and one of the cofounders of Sabeel.
Nine days in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, and the Sea of Galilee to meet Palestinians, visit holy sites, and experience the reality of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation: settlements, checkpoints, demolished homes and many more.
As a participant, you will also learn about the Bible and the Palestine Israel conflict and reflect on Bible readings through the eyes of Palestinian Christians.
This is a picture of me taking a picture of the Separation Wall in Bethlehem in 2011 on a trip with Amos Trust. It was on this trip that our group met Palestinian scholar Naim Ateek for a few hours as we discussed his mission and ministry.
May 15th, 1948 – The Palestinian Catastrophe, known as ‘Al-Nakba’, also known as Israeli Independence Day. One date, one land, two peoples, opposite ends of the spectrum – one people in deep trauma, the other in deep joy, a joy which is certainly tinged with a darkness of soul that must be continually pushed down and ignored. It won’t stay there forever. This anniversary is coming round again, and it is right to remind ourselves what is going on, to stand up for justice, for people, for God’s sake.
“Eighty percent of the Palestinians living in Palestine (what is now Israel – excluding the West Bank) fled out of fear or were forcibly evicted by the Zionists. Most of those who were not pushed out lived on the periphery of the Zionist military action, particularly in the Galilee, and thus managed to stay put, primarily because a cease-fire was signed before they could be evicted. It was essential, however, for the Zionists to prohibit those who left from returning to their homes, despite international pressure and UN resolutions, and despite Israel’s own promises, made in return for recognition and membership in the United Nations.”
UN Resolution 194
“Refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and those wishing not to return should be compensated for their property.”
“The 750,000 Palestinians who fled lost all their land and possessions in 1948 and became refugees. Just as Jews in Europe were driven from their homes due to pogroms, Palestinians were forced to leave their homes and land because of Zionist ethnic cleansing. In what may be termed a Middle Eastern “trail of tears”, refugees . . . trecked to Lebanon, Jordon, Syria, and other surrounding states.”
Three really excellent sermons by Rev. Dr. Alasdair Black of Stirling Baptist Church, relating to the Israel-Palestine problem, given during the recent bombing campaign of Israel on Gaza. They are entitled, ‘Putting the Israeli-Palestine Conflict in Perspective.’
Click here to go to the church web site or go straight to the sermon below