A painful accompaniment to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is the estrangement it has caused between mainline Protestants and Jews. For decades mainline Protestants have fostered theological dialogue with the Jewish community. Christian and Jewish scholars have worked together on common texts and common history.
Only days after President Bush stood in Aqaba, Jordan, on June 4 and touted a road map to peace in the Middle East—with Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas at his side—his plan was nearly in shreds. The Palestinian militant group Hamas snubbed the road map, rejected Abbas’s appeals for a cease-fire and launched terrorist attacks in Jerusalem.
White House spin masters have discovered the beauty of the sea. First there was the decision to hold an aircraft carrier offshore long enough for President Bush to stage his dramatic landing attired in a flight suit.
Yielding to increasing pressure to show the Arab and Islamic worlds (and much of Europe) that he is sensitive to the plight of the Palestinian people, President George W. Bush recently declared his commitment to implement a “road map” to an Israeli-Palestinian peace. Meanwhile, a powerful domestic countermovement capable of undermining the U.S. initiative is well under way.
I have two files on my computer desktop labeled “Rachel” and “Shaden.” They remind me of the deaths of an American woman and a Palestinian woman. One contains stories and editorials about Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old native of Olympia, Washington, who was crushed to death on March 16 by an Israeli bulldozer. Rachel died as she was protesting the demolition of a Palestinian home in Rafah, Gaza.
The release of President Bush’s “roadmap” to peace in the Middle East, designed to lead to a Palestinian state by 2005, brings to mind the famous New Yorker cartoon in which a scientist, after filling a blackboard with a complicated mathematical formula, ends with the words “and then a miracle happens.” A colleague observes: “I think there’s a problem with your last step.” In the case of th
A viable two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is dying; perhaps it is already dead. This reality should prompt new theological and political analysis among Christians and others who yearn for justice, peace and security for Palestinians and Israelis.
Anti-Semitism is a very real and toxic plague in history and in modern life. The suffering of the Jews is a well-known and often-told story that must never be forgotten. Jews have a right, based on experience, to fear anti-Semitism. But it also must be said that to be opposed to the policies of a particular Israeli government need not be anti-Semitic. It could simply be smart politics.
On the ground in Jerusalem, one can see how much syndicated columnist Thomas Friedman overlooks. Friedman, the premier media commentator in the U.S. on foreign affairs, would have us believe that—as a liberal Jewish thinker—he doesn’t think Israel should hold on to occupied lands, and he will indeed say that settlements in occupied lands are a bad thing.
The Jewish Agency for Israel reports that in 2000, 6,460 North American Jewish teenagers traveled to Israel on what Newsweek recently described as formative trips “to cement Americans’ connection to their religion.” This year, with the region torn by violence, that number dropped to 200. What does this mean to the Jewish religion?