Sunday, April 11, 2010

About those Palestinian Christians: Responses

Some responses I received in regard to my previous post on the general lack of American Christian awareness or concern for Palestine's Christian community:

"This is not an issue, specifically speaking to this post, of land and you state. This is an issue of incompetent leadership when it comes to religious freedom on BOTH sides of the conflict."

"Your post is a very fair critique of what seems to be the 'default' American Christian view on Israel (in much the same way that the Republican party, frustratingly, is a default 'Christian' position). It does seem like many Christians (and to be fair, many Americans) don't take the time to think carefully about this issue."

"I think there is a growing concern for Palestinian Christians among Christian college students and Christians in academia, but unfortunately I don't know how widespread among Christians in general that sentiment will become."

Again, I want to make clear that I am not advocating that American Christian congregations or organizations completely drop their support for Israel and instead adopt a more "pro-Palestinian" slant. However, I have always found it strange that when Christian groups talk about Israel and the Holy Land (and I am of the persuasion that the vast majority of them never actually do), they generally are very supportive of Israel's position regarding settlements, East Jerusalem, and security. In the same way, I believe American Christians do not have a real solid understanding of Palestine's Christian communities or the way the policies some Christian Zionist organizations advocate hurt Palestinian Christians, both in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. I'm not calling for American Christians to abandon Israel, but I would like to see them gain a greater understanding of the Palestinian Christian narrative. As the conflict endures, Christians (in Israel, the U.S., and Palestine) suffer. A greater sense of this could cause American Christian groups to become more active in advocating for a peaceful solution to the conflict, and perhaps more moderate views on Jerusalem. There are many Christian groups that actively work in the Holy Land doing just that, but I think American Christians are a community in the U.S. that secular peace activists often overlook, instead of engaging them to advocate for peace.

I think it would be a great idea to take the Holy Land Christian narrative on a traveling tour of American churches to bring them into the "pro-peace" rather than "pro-Palestinian/Israel" folds.

One final thing: I would like to see Jerusalem's Old City turned over to an international agency (like the UN) and allow that organization to administer the city's affairs. I have always found it odd that more American Christians are not very vocal about their support for such a settlement.

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