Sabeel-Kairos 2019 Conference – a celebration of Palestinian culture, solidarity and action

Below are the details for the upcoming Sabeel-Kairos Conference which I commend to you, and published here with permission:

Sabeel- Kairos Annual Conference:
Faith in Action 2019

Our annual conference will be held at 10am-4:30pm on Saturday 29th June at Carr’s Lane Church in Birmingham.
£30 including a buffet Lunch

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Tickets are selling fast, so make sure you get yours by BOOKING NOW for a great day of Palestinian culture, solidarity and action.  Don’t take our word for it, read what our supporters said about last year’s conference and book below:“Excellent.   Dynamic, clear and very thought provoking”

“a fantastic conference”

“I am Re-energised after the conference”

“loved the sales tables and to be with so many ‘like minds’ for a change.”

“Thank you for a stimulating, challenging and thought provoking conference in Oxford today.”

“The first impression when I arrived was so good in that it was a ‘full house’”

“The day ended in a warm prayerful way to send us away with thoughts to fill our minds and to share”

“excellent speakers”

“Speakers were great and interestingly varied in their focus”

“The conference theme was highly relevant.”

“The theme was good because it answered the oft-asked question ‘what can I do?’ with practical suggestions.”

“hard act to follow when looking to the future.”

“The food was marvellous”

COME ALONG to learn more about Investing for Peace, taking part in real activism, take part in campaign actions and meet like-minded people.
Ethical investment
Campaign Action
Lunch
Palestinian Crafts and Photography
Palestinian and expert speakers
War on Want
Activist Workshops
Palestinian Food
Great Day
Rifat Kassis, Palestinian Activist.  Founding member and Director of Kairos Palestine
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David Cronin, Journalist, Activist and Author of ‘Balfour’s Shadow’

*

Prof Adam Sutcliffe, of King’s College London and Independent Jewish Voices who will lead a session on antisemitism

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There will also be a campaign workshop by Ryvka Barnard of War on Want and Charlotte Marshall of Sabeel-Kairos.

buy Palestinian food and crafts and view photo exhibitions.
Come along to meet like-minded people, have good discussions, eat, drink, buy Palestinian food and enjoy Palestinian culture.  We are expecting this to be a great day and we can’t wait to see you all there!
£30 including a buffet Lunch

Sabeel-Kairos AGM 2019

The Annual Sabeel-Kairos AGM will take place towards the end of the day, and we invite all members to stay and take part and vote for new trustees and hear about our news.  If you are not yet a member but would like to vote and join in, please complete the membership form and pay here.

We are expecting to have space on the board for a Treasurer and another Trustee.  As well as someone with an accounting/ finance background to be treasurer, we are looking for another trustee with potential fundraising, HR or charity governance experience.  We welcome all people to stand for these positions at the AGM, from anywhere in the country, all ethnic backgrounds, ages and denominations.  Please consider standing for one of these roles to help support our small, but dynamic and energetic charity!


Sabeel-Kairos
was formed in 2017 as a result of the merger of Friends of Sabeel UK and Kairos Britain.
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Kairos Britain
A network of individuals, organisations and faith communities seeking a just and lasting peace in the region based on the realisation of full human and political rights for all.Friends of Sabeel UK
Supports the Sabeel Theology Centre in Jerusalem in its work for the promotion of religion for the benefit of the community.
Supports and encourages the Christian community in the Holy Land (Israel and the Palestinian areas of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem) in their life and witness.
Raises awareness in the United Kingdom concerning Christians in the Holy Land and promotes links with them.

Palestine @70: A Celebration of Contemporary Palestinian Culture

Palestine @70
A Celebration of Contemporary
Palestinian Culture
14th – 20th May 2018

AMOS

Palestine @70
Amos Trust is proud to support Palestine @70: A Celebration of Contemporary Palestinian Culture at RADA Studios in London from 14th – 20th May.

2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the 1948 Palestinian exodus, also known as the Nakba or “catastrophe”.  @70: A Celebration of Contemporary Palestinian Culture is a week-long festival of theatre, dance, films, and talks commemorating the Palestinian experience of dispossession and loss of a homeland.

The Shroud Maker
There’s a whole host of events and performances including a week-long run of The Shroud Maker written by Gazan and Amos trustee, Ahmed Masoud. Loosely based on a real-life character still living in Gaza, The Shroud Maker is a dark satire telling one woman’s story of survival.

At 6.30pm on Wednesday 16th May, there will be a special performance of The Shroud Maker as part of @70 which will include a short presentation about Amos Trust’s work in Palestine including our Change The Record campaign. It would be great to see some of you there – tickets are available here. Please do check the @70 website for full details of the rest of the programme.

Palestine @70 is a creative response to decades of injustice. It has been jointly organised by Amnesty International UK, the Hoping Foundation, the Palestine Solidarity CampaignAl  Zaytouna Dance Theatre and Amos Trust.

 

A Palestinian’s Plea to the British Prime Minister

Palestinian theologian and pastor the Rev Alex Awad has been mentioned on this blog before.  I met him once a few years ago and he signed a book for me he had written that recounted the terrible events of the 1948 al-nakba through the lens of his own family…the book is a fantastic resource for a way in to understanding the Israeli-Palestinian ‘conflict’.

Alex has written an open letter to the British Prime Minister Theresa May and I am taking the liberty to post it here:

The Honorable Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom:
 
I am a Palestinian who was born in Jerusalem in 1946 during the British Mandate over Palestine. During the first Arab-Israeli war in May 1948 I was two years old. My father, a civilian, was shot and killed in crossfire between the Zionist Haganah militias and the Jordanian army, leaving my mother to care for seven children. The oldest of my siblings was eleven and the youngest six months old. Soon after the death of my father, our neighborhood was taken over by the Israelis and we fled, becoming refugees. As I grew up, I began to ask questions about why my father was killed, what caused the Israel/Palestine conflict and what triggered all the suffering of millions of Palestinians and Jews in the last 100 years.
 
In time, I learned about the Balfour Declaration and the British Mandate over Palestine. I discovered that in 1917, the British Foreign Secretary sent a letter, later called the Balfour Declaration, to Lord Rothschild and Zionist leaders, promising to support the creation of a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. After WWI, against the objections of my people, the British government colonized Palestine and made it possible for the Zionist movement to take over our homeland.
 
Your Honor, there is no way that your country can undo the tragic history of the last 100 years. All the wealth of Great Britain can’t compensate me and my fellow compatriots for the death, injury, loss of land and enormous suffering that came upon us and continue to bring pain to us due to the Balfour Declaration and other oppressive policies of your predecessors. I look back to the past only to remind you of the grave injustices that my people and I have endured, due partly to the United Kingdom’s past policies. I seek no apologies and no compensations. And as a Palestinian Christian, I offer you and the British people total pardon.
 
As I look to the future, I believe that your government can help to end to the Israel/Palestine conflict and bury the memory of the Balfour Declaration, and I call on you to have the courage and determination to do so.
 
Britain was among the first in creating this tragic conflict but shouldn’t be the last in taking positive steps to resolve it.
 
This year, which marks the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, your government can help Israelis and Palestinians begin to find the path to a just and genuine reconciliation.
Let 2017 be the year that Britain conducts its policy for Israel and Palestine independently of the influence and dictates of the United States.
 
A first step would be for Britain to recognize an independent Palestinian State in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. Once your government takes this courageous act, many reluctant European countries would be encouraged to follow suit. Already 138 countries including the Holy See recognize Palestinian statehood.
 
Your contribution to ending the Israel/Palestine conflict would not only save Israeli and Palestinian lives but could also usher in an era of peace and help to end bloody conflicts and acts of violence elsewhere in the Middle East and throughout the world.
 
Prime Minister, let Great Britain lead the way to peace under your brave and wise guidance.
 
Sincerely,
 
Rev. Dr. Alex Awad
Author, pastor, and retired missionary of the United Methodist Church
 
Alex Awad was born in Palestine and served there for decades as a missionary of the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church. Awad was the pastor of an international congregation at East Jerusalem Baptist Church, served as Professor, Dean of Students and Director of the Shepherd Society at Bethlehem Bible College, and is the author of two books: Palestinian Memories: The Story of a Palestinian Mother and Her People and Through the Eyes of the Victims: The Story of The Arab-Israeli Conflict.

Cry With US – One Palestinian’s Prayer

Yohanna Katanacho Catalyst Live Reading 2013 BMSPalestinian scholar Yohanna Katanacho, who spoke at the excellent BMS Catalyst Live event in Reading, UK in 2013, offered a way forward in this conflict that was saturated in forgiveness whilst living a reality of pain and persecution.
I met Yohanna and his family whilst visiting Nazareth in 2013, and found in him a humility of steel that comes with being called by God to speak Gospel truth into any given context.
He penned a poem called ‘Cry With Us’ that reads like a prayer of sanity, humanity and faith:
***
“This is a season of weeping and mourning, but it is not void of hope.
Our tears are the bridge between brutality and humanity;
our tears are the salty gates for seeing a different reality;
our tears are facing soulless nations and a parched mentality;
our tears are the dam preventing rivers of animosity.
For the sake of the mourning men, cry with us to reflect your amity.
For the sake of the poor children, cry with us demanding sanity.
For the sake of lamenting mothers, refuse violence and stupidity.
Love your enemies and cry with them is the advice of divinity.
Bless those who curse is the path to genuine spirituality.
Pour tears of mercy; compassion is true piety.
Pray with tears, for the sake of spreading equity.
Followers of Jesus: crying is now our responsibility.
But don’t cry for your friends only;
but also for your Enemy.”
***
And all God’s people said “Amen!”

Zionism Unsettled

Zionism UnsettledZionism Unsettled produced by Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) (website here), released one year ago in January 2014, is a great resource for Churches working towards a more healthy and hopeful  understanding of the terrible situation between Israelis and Palestinians.  PDF flyer here.

One blogger, a Rabbi no less, Brant Rosen, calls this production an “exciting guide…..smart, gutsy and important.”

James M. Wall, over at Wallwritings defends the publication in the face of an inevitable outcry of antisemitism, poor history, a guide that is “neither false nor misguided.”

The video production links are given below, and in the space given to each video, approximately twenty minutes each, they really are a succint and helpful introduction, something I would commend to followers of Jesus in the Churches everywhere.

In many ways, the criticism, whilst treading a very tired and frankly, predictable path, is a cheap shot given the people who have commended the work.  Of note is the great Old Testament Scholar Walter Breuggemann, Professor Emeritus, Columbia Theological Seminary,

“The urgency of the Palestinian plight in the face of Israeli intransigence indicates that intentional, concrete, and sustained public action is necessary to respond credibly to the crisis. Zionism Unsettled…will prove an effective vehicle for helping to mobilize public opinion so that both attitudes and policies can be transformed in the face of an imperious and exploitative ideology.”

Similarly, Ilan Pappe, Israeli Professor of History at Exeter University, England, is a contributor on one of the productions.  Pappe has contributed to a critique of the Zionist ideology through many articles and books over many years, and has paid a high price for his convictions.

And conviction is the reason I am posting this.  In a paper unconnected to Zionism Unsettled, in a critique of Christian Zionism inTruth Speaking the Truth – Zionism, Israel and Occupation (ed. Michael Prior), Peter J. Miano, Executive Director of the Society for Biblical Studies, writes in his chapter ‘Mainstream Christian Zionism’ that in

“Reconsidering Christian Zionism in its mainstream form leads inevitably to vexing moral conflicts.  It requires re-examination of widely held assumptions about ethnic identity and nationhood and the moral implications of these.”

He adds,

“It raises issues that are considered taboo in the Church and takes us into perilous academic ‘no-fly zones’.  But intellectual honesty requires no less” (emphasis mine) p.145.

I myself have firsthand experience of this taboo in the Church, from people I do not know and people I do.  It is always a heart-sinking moment when the letter you’ve just opened is not so much a robust converstaion but a ‘no-fly zone’ hidden behind language masquerading as informed whilst reinforcing the unspoken taboo – “Don’t criticise Israel – anything but that!”

Well, I love Jewish people, secular or religious.  I love the ancient biblical land of Israel/Palestine.  I love Palestinians, Muslim or Christian.  I do not love or like Zionism, an experimental ideology that has been weighed and found wanting, and in the process, ruined generations of lives.  It is not just intellectual honesty that requires this terrible system of oppression and de-humanising be confronted, but it is moral courage in the face of occupation and conquest that must also drive forward this conflict to peaceful conclusions.

 

Click here to go to the Vimeo video production links…

 

 

…or individually below:

http://vimeo.com/channels/zuepisodes

Israel-Palestine in Perspective

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

 27 July What kind of nation? Rev Dr. Alasdair Black  https://sites.google.com/site/sbc100428/ser/other-sermons-2014/download-now1jpeg.jpg
  3 August A Christian response to the Palestinian conflict  Rev Dr. Alasdair Black
https://sites.google.com/site/sbc100428/ser/other-sermons-2014/download-now1jpeg.jpg
 10 August The holocaust narrative in the Old Testament Rev Dr. Alasdair Black
https://sites.google.com/site/sbc100428/ser/putting-the-israeli-palestine-conflict-in-perspective/download-now1jpeg.jpg

The god of war

Ares, the god of war, lives!

And his children Fear and Terror have made Zeus a grandfather!

He rides the earth on his war chariot with his lover, Discord!

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He is a foul impostor on the earth, a god of unimaginable suffering and pain.

Men flock to his side.  They cheer him and throw flowers at his feet.  He is the Victor.

Economies are driven by the desire to satisfy his blood lust.

 

In his name, generations of children are sacrificed.

Baal and Molech are his ancient biblical blue-prints.

Each desiring the bodies of babies thrown to the flames.

G2

Men cast into war, in the name of freedom.

And sometimes, brazenly, in the name of tyranny.

Sent anywhere and everywhere that his bastard children can spread their fame.

 

Yet when they return, if they return;

Bodies and minds broken; hearts frozen; eyes glazed,

Even then he will not relent.  His lust for chaos is unrelenting.

 

He unleashes his bride, his lover, some say his sister.

Even incest is within his remit.

Discord: you heartless bitch!  Leave mankind alone.

G3

Shameless, you all press on, within and without the heart of man.

Children driven into the bloodied dust.

Bombs, rockets, bullets and mines.

 

Dictators who do your bidding.

Economies that do your spending.

Governments that do your defending.

 

The game is up!

The time is short.

Your ways are the ways of man.

 

And the ways of man are done.

Nothing new under the sun.

Tyranny is our middle name.

 

You are a false god,

And you have been called, judged, sentenced.

Your doom is certain.

Children-killed-by-Israel-on-beach

For there is One who has come.

A man from heaven,

Light from light

 

God from God.

Word become flesh.

His Cross has sentenced you to death.

Sideways Cross

The Hell of Hells is where you belong.

You shall go down, and unlike this Word made flesh,

You shall not rise.

 

But the sons and daughters of man,

They shall rise.

They shall rise and rejoice.

 

For fear and terror have given way to faith and love.

Discord must yield to Peace.

And this false god of thunder;

 

Must give way before the whisper,

the still small voice,

the sheer silence of the true and living God who is!

 

qol d’mamah daqqah.

God’s breath.

God’s Spirit.

 

Will silence the false gods of war and chaos.

Ares the false god is judged.

Yahweh Lives!

Praise him in London and New York.

Praise Him in Gaza; the guns will be silenced for Ares will be sentenced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus says…. V’s Christian Zionism says….

Rainbow

Christian Zionism says “This is my land, we’re staying put!”

Jesus says, “Go in all the world and make disciples.”

Christian Zionism says “Abraham is our father!”

Jesus says “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did.”

Christian Zionism says “We must help rebuild the Temple.”

Jesus says, “My body is the Temple.”

Christian Zionism says “Palestinian ethnic cleansing doesn’t really matter – it’s all part of the Plan.”

Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”

Christian Zionism says, “This land is ours by divine right.”

Jesus says “But I say to you, love your enemies.”

Christian Zionism says “To criticise the Jews/Israelis is anti-semitic.”

Jesus says “Take the plank out of your own eye first.”

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Continue reading “Jesus says…. V’s Christian Zionism says….”

A Room Called Gaza

We are a big family and we owned this beautiful house with stunning land all around.

We’ve had many neighbours from all over the world down the centuries, not all of them have been good to us, but most have.  Suddenly, one day, one violent day almost 70 years ago now, when I was a boy, we were having a wonderful family meal out in the garden when there appeared men and women from nowhere.  We’d never seen them before but they insisted the house was theirs.

They stopped us eating the food and they ate it themselves.  They even took food out of my baby brother’s mouth.  They insulted us and hurt us.  “This house belongs to us now!” they shouted.  My family were in shock and many were crying.  One or two tried to fight back, but the intruders were too strong.

They moved us all into the basement of the house.  I say all, but only 13 made it, we lost three of our family, my own father, his brother and my older cousin.  We never saw them again.

The basement room was small and dingy, it was dark and we only had one small window that let in sunlight, but even that was sometimes covered by those who took over our house.

They shut the basement door and locked it.  We couldn’t go anywhere and were told to be quiet lest we disturb the party that was going on above our heads, in our house!

The conditions were filthy and we heard them calling us dirty dogs.  We had little water, we ate scraps and we had no hope.  Over the years our family grew, there were by now over 300 of us, in the same space as the original 13.  Occasionally, the occupiers of my house would open the door, they said as a gesture of peace and good-will to let some fresh air come in.  The whole world congratulated them for doing this.  An “outstanding act of generosity” as one pompous Western government commented.

We were left filled with pain and confusion.  And in time this made us angry.  Very angry.  Some of our own growing family had never known it otherwise.  Born under occupation.  Living under occupation.  Dying in occupation.  Yes, we were very angry.

The sheer force of energy in the young was a wonder to behold.  For sure some were hot heads who just wanted to charge the enemy and keep charging until all are dead.  I understand the anger that can lead to these feelings.  Others would bang on the door relentlessly, crying out for freedom, for rights, for a return to our house.  Sometimes those in our house would retaliate by beating and killing some of us, other times they would come in to the basement room and really hurt us with a vast array of power and force.  We lived in fear.  Fear of the unexpected and fear of the expected and this made the younger men even more angry.

We heard those in the house telling visitors that the reason we were locked in the basement room was because we were angry and violent, that we wanted their destruction, that we were anti-Semitic.  But we are Semitic ourselves.  We are angry now because they took our house then.  But we don’t want their destruction, even though some of the hotheads say as much, it’s just our Arab way of exaggerating to make a point, we just want our house back!

We want to join the human race again.  We want to feel the sun on our face as free-men and women.  We want our children to grow up loving life not despising it.  We want to live.  We want our house back.

My house is called Palestine and the basement room we have called Gaza.

Help us.

Gaza: A UK Jewish Perspective

Robert Cohen has written are very helpful and personal account of what this current Gazan crisis means for him, as a Jew in the UK.  Below is the full copy of the article he wrote on Tikkun Daily.

Robert himself blogs at Micah’s Paradigm Shift and I recommend a look.

Like me, Robert went to Israel/Palestine with Amos Trust in 2011, though we went on separate trips as I don’t know him personally.  Here’s what he writes….

 

“For the last three years I’ve been writing monthly posts about Israel-Palestine from a UK Jewish perspective. At times like this, with the news from Gaza dominating world headlines, I feel an even greater responsibility to champion a Judaism that stands for more than a narrow nationalist ideology.

It took me about 25 years from the point of first engaging seriously with the subject as student in the 1980s to feeling confident enough to start saying anything in a public sphere. Like many other Jews, for years I felt increasingly uncomfortable with what was going on in Israel in the unchallengeable name of defense and security. I was the classic liberal Zionist, brought up on a diet of Jewish ethics and Western democratic values. It was an upbringing that left me in an ever increasing state of ‘angst’ over the actions of the Jewish State, a country that claimed to act in my name and in my interests. But whatever I was feeling, I avoided family discussions let alone public debate.

It was operation Cast Lead and the ground invasion of the Gaza Strip in 2008/9 that began my journey from an Israeli supporting peacenik to a marginalized Diaspora Jew, questioning the entire Zionist project. After watching children dying from Israeli missiles and bombs, my silent Jewish angst felt like so much useless self-indulgence. It was a feeling I wanted to avoid next time things kicked off in Gaza. And I suspected there would be a next time.

A visit in 2011 to Israel (my third) and to the West Bank (my first) finally completed the emotional and intellectual journey. Talking to Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line taught me that something had gone very wrong with the Jewish dream of self-determination. Whatever the questions raised by two thousand years of ‘exile’, this could not be the answer. A Sparta state, increasingly racist in its culture of Jewish ethnic privilege, had not resolved any of the issues Herzl and the early Zionists had set out to address. Instead it had created a truck-load of new problems and left another people homeless and oppressed.

But with support for Israel now fundamental to Jewish identity in the diaspora, and anti-Zionism considered a more serious communal offense than marrying-out, where could an individual still committed to their Jewish values, but at odds with Israel, find a place to stand and speak?

Well not in the synagogue nor at family simchas. Too many prayers for the IDF and too much singing of Hatikva to allow dissent. The blogosphere and the internet, with its ability to create virtual communities of interest, has become the only place big enough and open enough to allow me in. In cyberspace everyone can hear you scream…or choose to click you into silence.

And now, in 2014, the people of Gaza are being pummeled again. And with the sound of sirens still ringing in Israeli ears, who is willing to listen to a lecture on Jewish values when Jewish lives have been at stake?

I am reminded by members of my family that ‘our side’ drop leaflets and make phone calls before firing missiles. And, unlike ‘them’, we care about the safety of our children and put them in air raid shelters. So that makes our missiles moral and their dead children their own fault not ours. You should at least show some balance in your views, they say.

But I stopped seeing any ‘balance’ a long time ago. I don’t credit the phone calls or the leaflets or the ‘knock on the roof’ ballistic warnings. All I can see is the same old colossal lack of imagination, dressed up in clothes of self-righteousness and victim hood, that has driven both Israeli and Jewish communal politics into an ethical brick wall.

I pray that a ceasefire can be successfully negotiated (to the satisfaction of both sides) so that Palestinians will stop being killed and Israelis can stop living in fear….at least for a while. But it is at times like this, that ‘rescuing the Hebrew covenant’ becomes paramount.

Since I began, three years ago, I have attempted to remain true to the blog strap line I first adopted: Act justly, love kindness, walk humbly. Rescuing the Hebrew Covenant one blog post at a time.

The scripturally minded will recognize the abbreviated quote from the Hebrew Prophet Micah.

Justice. Kindness. Humility.

For me, this is what the Hebrew Covenant boils down to after 5,000 years of Jewish history. This, to answer the test question set by the prophet in the 8th century BCE, is what God requires of us.

The Micah based Covenant is the sacred understanding that we are created for the sake of others. And with so much emphasis in the Hebrew bible on the ‘stranger’ and ‘neighbour’ there is little doubt in my mind that the justice/kindness/humility ethical imperative must embrace all of humanity. Which, despite the remarks of some Knesset members in the last two weeks, must include Palestinians living in Gaza City and Khan Younis too.

If my reading of scripture is correct then Jewish territorial sovereignty didn’t work out so well the first two times. See Isaiah and Jeremiah for further reading. Third time around and we are making another ethical hash of things.

If the mainstream Jewish leadership in the UK, North America and the rest of the Diaspora, does not recognize such a description then I can only assume that they don’t have a problem with ethnic dispossession or military occupation or collective punishment, or institutional discrimination. All of which could be the case if they are still seriously wedded to the Land/Chosenness/Election reading of the Covenant. To me that’s an Iron Age religious understanding that is now well past its sell-buy date.

Our actions, both historical and contemporary, towards the Palestinians are the greatest challenge facing Judaism and the Jewish people today. We have to find a way through this that means more than defending a narrow nationalist ideology. In the long run, rescuing the Hebrew Covenant is the only sane, ethical and Jewish way forward.”

With thanks to Robert Cohen.

gaza-11

 

Picture Source Independent UK 

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