Saturday, August 20, 2011

Israelis speak about the urgency of reaching a two-state solution

Here are a number of Israelis, on the J Street website, advocating a two-state solution.

I'm not sure whether a two-state solution is possible or desirable. Is anyone considering the possibility of changing the program for a "Jewish" state (given, for example, the conflict between being "Jewish," on the one hand, and being "democratic" on the other), and going for a one-state solution, with full equal rights for all citizens, Jewish and Arab, Jew, Muslim and Christian?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Peace Quote of the Day - different gods, more likely to fight?



 “...the more different the gods worshipped by various peoples, the more likely, all other things being equal, that their respective worshippers will come into conflict and the less likely that they will find peaceful resolution of conflict”

The claim that Muslims and Christians worship radically different deities is good for fighting, but not for living together peacefully.”
Miroslav Volf, Allah: A Christian Response


I'm not sure.

Volf's book is excellent, and I agree with most of his arguments and his main points. I'm not sure, though, that I agree that there is a correlation between how different peoples' conceptions of God are, and their likelihood of experiencing conflict.

Some thoughts:
1. I wonder if closeness in concept of God may be even more of an irritant, at least in some cases. Take (at least in certain times and places) different groups of Christians, e.g., Catholic and Protestant. We're talking about the same God, or at least a fairly close conception, and yet, plenty of conflict.

2. It seems to me more significant, whether a group's concept of God is one that tends toward peace and forgiveness and peacemaking or not. E.g., Jesus teaches us to forgive, to make peace, to love our neighbors and even our enemies. Regardless of whether Muslims or anyone has a close conception of God to mine, as a follower of Jesus, I should - if I follow the teachings of Jesus - do everything possible to live in peace with those others.

On the second quote, I think that the correlation is that in times of tension (like those between Muslims and Christians, post-9/11), both communities are more likely to emphasize different concepts of God, in a knee-jerk reaction to push away those different others that they are in conflict with. One could also say (reinforcing my point #2) that the view of God of the extreme Muslims, is a violent view, and leads them to their violent actions. But their view is considered by the vast majority of Muslims to be extreme and not representative of the true teachings of Islam.

In any case, I recommend Volf's book as a good and critically important read in these days of Muslim-Christian tensions.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Working for Peace in Palestine: Lynne Hybels

"So . . . it was October 2008. I had been invited by Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian—Bill’s mentor and mine—to attend a conference in Amman, Jordan, taught entirely by Arab Christians from Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq and the West Bank. To a person, these ministry leaders said they felt abandoned by Western Christians. And, of course, they are; to most Western Christians the phrase “Arab Christian” is an oxymoron. We experience a severe case of cognitive dissonance when hear about indigenous Iraqi Christians or the ancient Egyptian Coptic Church or—even more surprising—Palestinian Christians whose ancestors have been “on the land” from the time of Christ. What? Why didn’t we realize this? What should we do about it?"

So began the journey of Lynne Hybels - wife of the lead Pastor of one of America's first and largest megachurches - into the world of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Her posts and activities are worth following.

Can Evangelicals be a Force for Peace in Israel/Palestine?

"The World Evangelical Alliance Peace and Reconciliation Initiative (WEAPRI) has been established in order to respond to the extraordinary opportunity that 600 million evangelicals have, to reach out to the world as Peace-makers through the Church and Christian community internationally. With its secretariat in Auckland, New Zealand and its governance maintained by an International Executive Committee of experienced practioners, WEAPRI was formally inaugurated in October 2008."

This sounds good, but I wonder: can evangelicals be a force for peace - rather than for further destruction - in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? The blind support offered by many evangelicals for the State of Israel has been a negative rather than a positive force in the region, from a perspective of peace, justice, human rights and international law. Will the WEAPRI be any different?