Wednesday, June 21, 2006

They Met Everyone Except Someone Like Me & My Friends

The American Conservative magazine carries a story about a group of Church people seeking peace in the Middle East.

It is quite readable and you can find the full text here.

Of course, they met everybody but someone who livian Jewish community.

Here are some excerpts:-

Two months prior to our arrival, Hamas had won the Palestinian election, and no Palestinian who met with us — none of whom were Hamas voters — failed to express pride in the vigorous and fair electoral process. “A successful delivery, but a sick baby” remarked an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Sick and near death, too, is the peace process that had infused the region with hope in the early 1990s.

In retrospect, it may be that these hopes, which glowed so brightly among the Israeli Left and center and among virtually all Palestinians, were based on a misunderstanding: the Palestinians believed that in return for their recognition of Israel and renunciation of their claim to historic Palestine, they would achieve a viable and fully sovereign state on the West Bank and Gaza, the territories seized by Israel in the 1967 War; the Israelis believed they could give up nothing they really wanted for themselves and be rid of their Palestinian problem once and for all.

- - - -

This anyway was the dire impression our group received during a week of meetings in Bethlehem and Jerusalem with Palestinian intellectuals and activists, Israeli human-rights organizations, the archbishops and officials of the main Christian churches, and international relief workers. Except for an Israeli brigadier general who was an eloquent advocate of his government’s point of view and the American consul general, who was a caricature of smugness and nonchalance about the looming humanitarian collapse of the West Bank, everyone we spoke with was somber.

- - - -

And so one can imagine that Palestine might yet become what it has never been, a recruiting ground for al-Qaeda, or, as B’Tselem’s executive director, Jessica Montell, puts it, “a swamp for breeding terrorists around the world.” The California-born Montell is young, dynamic, still seems American—and leads one to wonder how it happens that a liberal Jewish woman who made aliyah has a better sense of the strategic realities of the war on terror than 99 percent of those in the U.S. Congress. B’Tselem may be the foremost purveyor of research and documentation of the impact of Israeli policies on the Palestinian Arabs. Its point of view, of course, is not widely shared in Israel. Indeed, Montell explains, the dominant attitude is that the Palestinian problem is over as far as Israel is concerned. “They voted for Hamas” and Israel has “no partner” are the phrases one hears repeatedly.

So what are the options, beyond despair and waiting for the situation to deteriorate further? Mitri Raheb is a Palestinian Lutheran who has created the International Center of Bethlehem. He is a theologian, slight, balding, intense—an intellectual who can find new things to say about a situation that generates millions of words of commentary every week. His center, built with funds raised in Europe, is a testament to his vision: it is time for Palestinians to “stop whining” and begin to build their own institutions.

Raheb remains, just barely, an advocate of the two-state solution, but his mild demeanor softens what is an edgier analysis. “The state called Palestine has failed,” he says, but “whenever Jewish leaders come, we tell them the whole project of Israel has also failed. The ghettoizing of Palestinians cannot be the fulfillment of the Jewish dream. … If you read the Bible seriously, a project called Israel never succeeded. Its leaders sinned against God. A national state can never be the answer to people’s aspirations. … It is a time for repentance. Israel has been calling for churches to do repentance for years. Now it is time for Israel to do repentance. I know this is tough to say in the U.S., but most church people are cowardly and won’t speak the truth.”


Batya said...

At least the World Jewish Congress came to Shiloh yesterday, two buses!

YMedad said...

World ZIONIST Congress. Well, we hope they were all Zionists. Our friend, Fran, told me they had a lot of youngsters (the new rule is 25% youth representation at the Congress) on the bus and they were very disruptive and negative.