We’re in the middle of the most important week for the Middle East since…well, last week, anyway. It’s the World Council of Churches’ “World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel,” an entity that exists no where but on pieces of paper floating around Geneva. Anyway, the WCC put out an article today on this epochal event, and as you might imagine, it was suitably one-sided:
“There is really no situation that is intractable – none,” said Nobel peace laureate and retired Anglican Archbishop of Capetown Desmond Tutu in a speech at the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey near Geneva, Switzerland, on Sunday, 7 June.
“Each [situation] is capable of being resolved, even this one that seemed so utterly intractable,” he added, comparing the Palestine Israel conflict to the seemingly deadlocked situation in South Africa before the downfall of apartheid.
For the archbishop, there is no international conflict that can’t be compared to South Africa, but I agree with his point that the situation is not “intractable.” There are solutions even to conflicts such as the one in the Holy Land, though it requires all parties to be rational, forgiving, honest, and willing to grant the humanity of its opponent, something that is rarely seen in American politics, much less in the struggle between Israelis and Palestinians.
“It’s time to assist settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to make their home in Israel,” say WCC member churches and others who join the week.
I’ve been against the settlements from the beginning, and have said so repeatedly. But two points need to be made here: 1) Israel pulled all of its settlements out of Gaza, along with all its military forces, in 2005, and was immediately rewarded by the start of a daily bombardment of southern Israel. 2) Why exactly is it necessary for all Jews to evacuate the West Bank? Consider this: over 1.5 million Palestinians live in Israel. They are not always treated as they should be, but they have free speech, freedom of religion, the right to assemble, and to be politically active. Arabs have sat in the Israeli Knesset for decades. How about if the West Bank settlers are given a choice–you can stay in your homes and become part of a new Palestinian state, with all the rights and privileges of citizenship, or you can be repatriated back to Israel. That puts the onus of decision where it belongs, relieves Israel of the responsibility of forcibly removing people (the evacuation of Gaza was a nightmare for the government), and gives Palestinians the opportunity to prove that they are actually willing to live side-byb-side with Jews, rather than insisting that their territory be Judenrein.
“It’s time to share Jerusalem as the capital of two nations and a city holy to three religions,” say the churches.
Because, even though we keep hearing that Jerusalem is one of the most important “final status” issues, the WCC has already decided how this one should go.
A public seminar in Norway tackled the topic of “Promised Land” as part of the action week. The 5 June event featured a pastor and author whose understanding had changed after a visit to the conflict zone.
“It’s time to learn from past wrongs,” says the World Week message. “It’s time for equal rights. It’s time to stop discrimination, segregation and restrictions on movement,” it adds.
“It’s time to stop discrimination,” says the WCC, but there is not a word here, nor has there ever been a public word spoken by anyone in the organization, regarding the daily treatment of Jews–not Israelis, all you “anti-Zionists,” but Jews–in the Palestinian press and education. (The ceasing of anti-Semitic education and propaganda was one aspect of the Oslo Accords that has been a dead letter since the day they were signed.) “It’s time to stop segregation,” says the WCC, at the same time that it calls for the annihilation of any and all Jewish presence on the West Bank. “It’s time to stop restrictions on movement,” says the WCC, supporting the right of suicide bombers to enter Israel at will (they don’t just want West Bank checkpoints eliminated, of course, but the security barrier that has virtually eliminated suicide bombings scrapped as well).
“It’s time to be revolted by violence,” say the churches, “and for civilians on both sides to be safe.”
Well, amen to that. Now all they have to do is convince Hamas that there are civilians in Israel. Maybe Sam Kobia can take that on as his last act before leaving office.