Monday, December 29, 2008

Concering the Crisis in Gaza and Southern Israel

Please pray for Palestine/Israel, especially southern Israel and Gaza where the killing by both sides is killing the innocent as well as the guilty.
Hold all people in the Light.

The whole situation of Palestine/Israel is so very complicated.

I don't have any quick answers for the extremely complex situation. However, I did live in Palestine/Israel in 1974, worked on a Jewish kibbutz, stayed briefly with a Palestinian family who befriended me in Nablus, and have read extensively books by both sides, etc.

My first suggestion is that we need to concentrate on giving all the different people of the Middle East the Good News. This is what America and Europe HASN"T done, except to a tiny degree with such activities as the Friends School in Ramallah,
Christian Peacemaker Teams, Brother Andrew's involvement in bringing Jew and Arab together, even going to HAMAS to share his perspective with its leaders (and helped
them when they were dumped midwinter into Lebanon years ago).

For instance, Eli Chacour a Palestinian/Israeli Arab priest gives out the Good News to all. He has worked with and started a school/university for all peoples of the area--Christian, Muslim, Druse, and Jew. He has also befriended non-theists.

That is a start.

Also, here are several books that might assist in helping everyone to understand the complexity of the area:

Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life by Sari Nusseibeh and Anthony David

Blessed are the Peacemakers by the former assistant mayor
of Ramallah (don't remember the name right now)

Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour
We Belong to the Land by Elias Chacour

Chacour's father, a Palestinian said that they needed to love
the Jews (when the Jews were escaping to the M.E.) yet later
the Israeli army kidnapped him and Chacour's brother
and dumped them in a foreign country, then they blew up
their Catholic church and drove all of the Palestinians
out of their town.

Yet Chacour still shows love to the Jewish people and all others.

Sounds like the Lamb's War,
the only war worth having.

Peace in the Light of Christ,

Daniel Wilcox


Cat C-B (and/or Peter B) said...

You write, "My first suggestion is that we need to concentrate on giving all the different people of the Middle East the Good News."

Ummm. What, precisely, do you mean by that, Friend?

If you mean living out the Spirit of Peace, and insisting that all of our own actions in response to this conflict are rooted in Spirit, led by Spirit, and that we allow love to be the first motion... well, yeah.

If you mean preaching conversion to Christianity as a doctrine??? Um, no, I don't think so. Because entering into a conversation with wounded, fearful people from a position of certainty that we, the outsiders, have the One True Right and Only Answer is a terrific way to make people who are already angry, fearful, and alienated feel further objectified.

Particularly given the relationship of Judaism and Christianity over the past two millenia (and between colonial powers and Islam over the past hundred years), I imagine that conversion attempts are unlikely to be a helpful addition to any conversation that might bring peace. Surely this is a time to bring more of our hearts and our spirits to the table than our notions--even notions as dear to many Friends as the Bible or Christianity.

Katya said...

It seems that the conflict between Israel and Palestine has been going on for centuries, and whenever one side seems to be ready to talk, the other starts blowing the opponent up; or, worse yet, one side agrees to communicate, the other one pretends to follow the suggestion of peace, and then starts killing unsuspecting people...
As for loving people, individuals - if one has befriended individuals there, like you did - then it is possible to look at this mess from a better, more informed point of view. Yet, if one does not know anyone from those lands personally, then it is difficult to put things together in perspective, and all the news on the radio and the television only seem to exasperate the situation by... screaming too loud.
Negotiations in this case... seem to be unproductive... if that's the word. It does not mean that the negotiations should be stopped; it's just that I personally have seen children on the playground act more maturely than those... adults with weapons.
Thank you,

Daniel Wilcox said...

Hi Cat,

You ask "What, precisely,do you mean by that Friend?"

I thought I was clear that I meant 'deeds not creeds,' the true Life of Jesus as in the Sermon on the Mount, not the creedal
strife of religion.

Your insightful three paragraphs say it much better than my original post. Thanks.

Yes, I mean as you say "living out the Soirit of Peace, and insisting that all our own actions in response to this conflict are rooted in Spirit..."

No, I don't believe in "preaching conversion to Christianity as a doctrine."

No way! Not only do Jewish and Muslim people of the Middle East mostly major in self-centeredness, but so do many Christians. Did you read of the recent brawl by opposing priests of differing Christian denominations. So tragic and absurd. And it is so tragic that American Christians are so pro-war.

That is why I mentioned Elias Chacour, the Palestinian Catholic priest who emphasizes love for all humans, who has started schools and a university that admits all the opposing kinds of students.

I totally concur with your last statement.

The Good News isn't theological notions, it God's revelation and our receiving of loving, peaacemaking, and joy-giving that all people in the Middle East and elsewhere may become one in God's Spirit. That is the true message of the Gospel, not abstract doctrine.

To quote Fox, "But as I had forsaken the priests...for I saw there was none among them all that could speak to my condition. And when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could I tell what to do; then, oh! then I heard a voice which said, 'There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition': and when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy. ...and this I knew experimentally.

Thanks very much for your response.

In the Light,


Daniel Wilcox said...

Hello Katya,

Thanks for the response. Too bad you and Joseph couldn't make it again to Writers' Group. You could have helped critique one chapter of my speculative novel.

As for Palestine/Israel, where you say in your post, "Negotiations in this case... seem to be unproductive," you are surely right. Did you notice that actually during the 6 month truce neiter side was using the time to seek reconciliation but only to better prepare for war!

I do believe to the utmost that the only way to real peace is in Christ--where each side asks forgiveness for what they have done in the past, loves their enemies as themselves, and learns to share the land.

That's why I mentioned Christians such as Elias Chacour--a Palestinian Catholic who loves Muslims, Jews, Christians of other denominations, Atheists, indeed everyone.

What a novel thought:-)

Hope to see some new creative writing on your blog soon.


Johan Maurer said...

The late Audeh Rantisi co-wrote Blessed Are the Peacemakers along with George Fox University's (and Northwest Yearly Meeting's) Ralph Beebe.

Concerning "giving the Good News," I resist the idea that we cannot testify about the Christian gospel in words, ever, at all. Because of past abuses of imperialism, we sometimes over-compensate and are less willing than we ought to be to reveal our motivations. Many cultures are far more pragmatic than we are in our hypersensitivity, and think there's nothing wrong with people talking about their personal faith and how it underlies their actions. However, I think the key requirements are LOVE and LEADING. If you don't love, and aren't being led, keep your mouth shut!

I harp on and on about the "respectful division of labor" that ought to exist among Friends. Some of us are gifted to be evangelists, and we ought to evangelize with the blessing of our meetings, rather than have hypersensitive cold water thrown on us. Others carry out their witness in different ways, particularly through ministries of compassion and social justice.

I don't think there's any reason for us to argue endlessly about what is more effective. What's most effective is for us as a community to love each other and love those we're blessed to meet, and not worry tooooo much about whether we have all our doctrinal, methodological, and political ducks lined up in a row before we get started.

Daniel Wilcox said...

Hi Johan,

Thanks for the authors' names and comments. I remember Beebe also wrote a great book on Christian pacifism.

(I've been following your comments and others on another couple of blogs. As I recall, you are a missionary in Russia, right?)

I completely agree that evangelism is very important. Unfortunately, it has gotten into problems (at least from my Friends' perspective) because it became disassociated from social concern, became focused on having right theological doctrine, and among some became proselytizing for our group rather than being the Glad Tidings the way Jesus evangelized.

I tend to be non-doctrinal when it comes to abstract theological creedal stuff, end-times scenarios, etc. because I have never seen such theological concerns create active change in individuals in the sense of helping them display the fruits of God's Spirit such as peace, patience, love, purity, mercy...

Thanks for the dialogue.


Johan Maurer said...

You're welcome! Thanks for opening up the topic.

In the first comment, Cat says, "entering into a conversation with wounded, fearful people from a position of certainty that we, the outsiders, have the One True Right and Only Answer is a terrific way to make people who are already angry, fearful, and alienated feel further objectified." I agree that this doesn't seem helpful, but this seems to me to be a jaundiced way of putting the case.

Genuine evangelists are people who offer access to a faith and a community embodying that faith, not asserting a Capital-Letter Certainty from a position of arrogant invulnerability. we're not fearful people, but we are often wounded people. And sometimes the people we're opening a conversation with are no less "certain" than we are--perhaps certain that the lives of Palestinians, or of Israelis, are somehow less precious. Objectification abounds and is not a sin confined to one or another side, and always needs to be countered with love. An evangelist is simply someone gifted to communicate an understanding of the source of that love.