Since ancient times, travelers have journeyed to sites of religious significance in order to deepen their faith. But I’ve never been much of a pilgrim. I was raised a Pentecostal, and in one regard our brand of faith was very modern: unlike most premodern people, we did not recognize any “sacred places.” For us, all places were alike to God because God had created them all.
The World Council of Churches has called on the Israeli government to “implement an open-ended freeze” on all settlement construction and expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem “in preparation for negotiating peace in good faith” in the region.
On a visit to Israel last year a colleague suggested that I visit Kibbutz Metzer, a community founded by Argentinean Jewish émigrés in the 1950s. So along with my Quaker traveling companion and one other American, I hired a taxi and drove north from Jerusalem for nearly two hours to the interior of the country.
Former president Jimmy Carter is calling Israel’s two-year-old blockade of Gaza an “atrocity” and saying that people there are being treated like animals. “Tragically, the international community largely ignores the cries for help, while the citizens of Gaza are being treated more like animals than human beings,” said Carter in a June 16 speech.
At the height of the second Palestinian intifada, Richard Griffiths, the editorial director of CNN, admonished me: “You have to remember, Walt, there are two standards of reporting at CNN, one for Israel and the other for the rest of the world.” Like many in U.S.
For 23 days in December and January, Israel struck targets throughout the Gaza Strip while Hamas sent a barrage of unguided rockets and missiles to towns in southern Israel. In the end, 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were dead, with 4,000 Palestinians and dozens of Israelis wounded. Media coverage was intense, but American and Arab media covered the war in significantly different ways.
I first thought it must be a joke when I saw the cover emblazoned with the line, “If the promises of God are inviolable, then Israel’s attachment to the land is underwritten by God’s decree” (Does the promise still hold? Jan. 13). I double-checked the date of the issue, thinking perhaps it was from last April Fool’s Day and that a delightful tongue-in-cheek satire was in store.But no, to my utter amazement Gary Anderson expounded on that premise in all seriousness, as though the theological perceptions of some tribe of believers (of which I count myself one) actually had standing in affairs of contemporary national sovereignty.
Two years ago, when U.S. and Canadian Lutheran bishops began planning a hands-on visit to the Holy Land for their inaugural Bishops’ Academy, they had no idea what the political or security situation would be on the ground. They relied on faith.
The heads of Christian churches in Jerusalem have denounced the devastating hostilities in the Gaza Strip as well as “all forms of violence and killings from all parties”—an appeal in the closing days of 2008 heard from government officials and religious leaders alike.