This review in the Baptist Times of Helen Paynter‘s latest book is a comprehensive introduction for those new to the questions it explores; will bring new insights to those familiar with the subject:
Review by Peter King
Over the past few years I have become increasingly troubled by the violence in the Bible. Although this is a subject we don’t often talk about in our churches, I know from a number of informal conversations that many churchgoers (and others) have questions they would like to explore on these issues.
The following is a note by the President of Bethlehem Bible College, Jack Sara, on the current troubles engulfing the West Bank and Gaza. It was published on the excellent ‘Come and See – a Christian web site from Nazareth‘.
This post is re-printed here with the personal permission of Jack, a faithful Christian, a fearless advocate of biblical truth and justice, a Palestinian, and a friend. I will never forget our conversation over breakfast a couple of years ago!!
Mission Impossible! By Jack Sara
By: Bader Mansour
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.”
Having recently seen the exhibition at St Margaret’s Church in Westminster, London, my imagination was fired by the brilliance of the poetry of Malcolm Guite, that brought to life the excellently ordinary paintings by Adam Boulter.
The words and paintings also bring to life the power of God’s Word as it takes these far too familiar accounts and recasts them in genuinely powerful and contemporary ways, attempting to announce the arrival of God the Son, incarnate, yet forever unsafe in a violent and tempting world.
Or those other encounters with God in the Old and New Testaments – this is the God who pursues us, whether in wrestling, in blinding light, in silence or temptation. The wilderness is the crucible, and I just wonder why our allegedly sophisticated Western world will do anything to avoid this barrenness of wilderness. Ironically, our techno-utopias are in fact a kind of wilderness of soul, and I suspect that in this barren place of techno-babble, this app-fuelled tom-foolery, God will meet with us here too in quite unexpected ways.
Here’s one poem by Malcolm.
Among the alternatives to terror is charity, one of the names (and practices) of non-love today. When, confronted with the starving child, we are told: “For the price of a couple of cappuccinos, you can save her life!”, the true message is: For the price of a couple of cappuccinos, you can continue in your ignorant and pleasurable life, not only not feeling any guilt, but even feeling good for having participated in the struggle against suffering!” [Bertolt] Brecht’s line from his Badener Lebrstuck vom Einverstandnis are today more relevant than ever:
When there is no longer any violence, there is no need for help
Therefore you should not demand help, but abolish violence.
Help and violence form a whole
And the whole has to be changed.
Zizek, Living in the End Times, page 117