-- guest post by G.J. Tarazi --
Ravensworth has a long and laudable history of doing justice. It’s in our DNA! One of our efforts is our work for justice in the Holy Land. Fourteen of us are members of the Alliance of Baptists’ Justice in Palestine and Israel Community (out of the 67 members nation-wide). Our community was asked by the staff and board of the Alliance to organize a gathering (aka conference) focusing on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This is our effort to educate Christians about the situation there and to introduce them to Palestinian Christians and Muslims who live in the DC metro area.
The prayer of the planning committee is that attendees will be inspired, motivated, and equipped to Wage Peace in Palestine and Israel! Our good friend and partner in Bethlehem, Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, will share his story of faithful work in doing justice under harsh conditions, in the very birthplace of our Lord Jesus. Mitri’s consistent and persistent efforts teach us that Hope is not a feeling, but what we do every day to follow Jesus in ushering the Kingdom of God on earth with justice and love. His life and ministry inspire us.
The panels and presentations will share experiences, provide comprehensive information, and outline thoughtful responses to the myths and roadblocks that may hinder efforts in waging peace in Palestine and Israel. Participants will realize that they are not alone in their efforts. There are others who need motivation and resources to continue in this important cause. Here are two examples:
The misguided precepts of Zionism have hindered the work of churches in doing justice in Palestine and Israel. Zionism as an ideology has elicited support from some Christian groups that espouse a particular brand of millennialist eschatology. On the other hand, mainline Christians, pondering with heartfelt regret the centuries of anti-Semitism in Europe, which culminated in the Holocaust, have maintained silence in the face of relentless Israeli expansionism that violates Biblical teachings on human dignity. Surely alternative perspectives are possible! This panel, consisting of four of the seven authors of Zionism through Christian Lenses, an ecumenical collection of essays, will offer viewpoints that are solidly rooted in Scripture and time-tested Christian writings.
US mass media has played the role of providing “empty calories” in American’s information diet on the situation in the Holy Land. The majority of the mainstream U.S. media has negatively impacted public understanding and perceptions about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by propagating a variety of anti-Palestinian omissions, half-truths and misrepresentations. One prominent myth is that the 1948 establishment of a Jewish State in historical Palestine was benign because Palestine was a "land without a people for a people without a land." Another myth is that Israel is a victim of Palestinians and their Arab allies who use violence with the aim of "throwing the Jews into the sea." These myths have negatively influenced and often derailed balanced and comprehensive dialogue about the conflict. This presentation refutes these myths and deals with some of the major impediments to peace with justice. It describes how Israel's obsession with being a predominantly Jewish State means maintaining the occupation, continuing the process of ethnic cleansing and ghettoization of Palestinians. It also provides information about a vibrant nonviolent Palestinian struggle to end Israeli occupation and apartheid. It concludes with the argument that the support of Israelis opposed to the occupation, as well as international solidarity, are crucial for a nonviolent resolution of the conflict, and that churches in the U.S. have a major role in this regard.
The breakout sessions will provide attendees with a variety of resources - from education, to advocacy efforts, to humanitarian programs, to economic, social and cultural support, and to political action. Participants can pick and choose the resources they and their churches may need. Networking with other churches and with these presenting organizations will better equip people to wage peace in Palestine and Israel.
We are together in this effort - within the presence of God, a God who loves justice. We want to follow the example of Jesus in doing justice. The Spirit of God unites us. Collaborating and participating with each other and with the Spirit of God makes the product of our efforts greater than the sum of its parts. This is a motivating reality. Let us keep working together to bring peace with justice in what some call the Holy Land.
Register now! The early dove registration discount has been extended, but it will end September 30th. You can register online. Register at http://allianceofbaptists.org/event/waging-peace-in-palestin/ .
Ghassan (G.J.) Tarazi was born in Beirut, Lebanon, to a Palestinian father and a Lebanese mother, four months after his parents were forced to leave their home in Jerusalem in 1948. His family migrated to Brooklyn, NY in 1955. He serves as chair of the Alliance of Baptist’s Community for Justice in Palestine and Israel. He and his wife have organized and led members of Ravensworth on trips to Israel and Palestine and have been very involved in the Palestine cause and the struggle for justice in Palestine and Israel locally, nationally, and internationally. He is a founding member of Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace. He and his wife live in McLean, VA.