I like to think of the Christian Century as offering a lively conversation about faith and the issues of our time. This issue contains a four-part exchange, and each of the writers—Vernon Broyles, Barbara Wheeler and Ira Youdovin—is a respected friend of mine.
The prophet Isaiah, whose words we read in Advent, gives us wonderful images of peace and of the restoration of Zion—images of the wolf living with the lamb, of waters breaking forth out of the wilderness, of a land where there shall be “no lion, nor any ravenous beast.”
On January 9, 2005, the Palestinians will elect a new leader. Is there any reason to believe that this will lead to a positive result for the Palestinians? Judge for yourself on the basis of recent history. Yasir Arafat is the only modern leader the Palestinians have known.
The suffering of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation can be documented through broad statistics: the number of people killed and injured, the number of days under curfew, the number of demolished houses, uprooted trees and confiscated land.
In the midst of tense debates with Jewish leaders, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has fired two employees who were part of a controversial delegation that met with Hezbollah officials in Lebanon. Church officials, however, did not say immediately if the firings of Kathy Lueckert and clergyman Peter Sulyok were related to the Middle East visit.
American Jews and Muslims reflect differently on the life and leadership of Yasir Arafat, but they agree that, following his death, a new era of leadership is needed to unify Palestinians and reinvigorate the peace process.