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Sabeel Jerusalem: "For such a time as this, what is required?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

For the last three months, approximately 200 Palestinian administrative
detainees have been on a hunger strike to protest their detention without
charge or trial.

On May 15, 2014, on Nakba day, a few weeks before the kidnapping of the
three young Israelis, the Israeli army killed two Palestinian teenagers near
Ramallah in cold blood.

On Monday evening, June 30, the Israeli army found the bodies of the three
missing Israeli teenagers.  On Tuesday morning, July 1, the Israeli army
killed a 16 year old Palestinian in Jenin and some settlers tried to snatch
a 9 year old boy in Beit Hanina, but he was rescued by his mother and some
passersby.   Early Wednesday morning July 2, settlers kidnapped a 17 year
old boy from Shufat, killed him and burned his body.  In addition, over the
last two weeks over 10 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army
some of them quite young and over 500 detained and hundreds injured.

We grieve with all the families – Palestinians and Israelis.  We condemn the
killings whether by the Israeli army, the unruly settlers, extremist
Palestinians or unknown suspects.  We uphold the sanctity of all human life
Israeli as well as Palestinian, Jew as well as Muslim, Muslim as well as

For those who have eyes to see, all the killings that have taken place were
senseless and the major culprit is the rightwing Israeli government.  Its
policy has been a total rejection of peace on the basis of the demands of
international law.  It refuses to share the land and accept a sovereign
Palestinian state on only 22% of historic Palestine that is willing to live
in peace next to Israel.  The government of Israel believes that it can turn
back the wheels of history and create an ethnic/religious state.  It
believes that it can impose its will on the Palestinians because it
possesses the military power and the technology that is needed.  This cannot
happen.  It is on the wrong side of history.  History itself is against it,
not only the Palestinians.  The future of the world is for multiethnic,
multiracial, and multi-religious communities living together.
History is for diversity and not for uniformity.  Israel's rightwing
government is the culprit.  It is responsible; it is the offender.  It is
cheating the Israeli and Palestinian youths of life because it is charting
an ethnic and racist course of history that is untenable.

The good people of Israel, Palestine, and the international community must
put a stop to this madness.  Long ago Jesus quoted the Psalmist saying, "The
meek will inherit the land."
  The meek are the people of the land and they
are the Israelis and the Palestinians, but they are not the arrogant
exclusivists of this world.  The exclusivists will eventually pass away and
someday new leaders will emerge, an Israeli Abraham Lincoln, or an Israeli
De Clerk who will lead Israel to peace based on sharing the land where every
person – man and woman, Israeli and Palestinian - will live as equal
citizens with human dignity.

We call on our Palestinian sisters and brothers to continue resisting every
act of injustice with nonviolent action; our religious leaders, Muslim and
Christian, to raise the prophetic voice against injustice and oppression;
and the Palestinian Authority to remain steadfast in its commitment to a
unified government.

If the Israeli government wants peace, it must be transformed.  It needs to
believe in the power of peace that is based on justice and equality.  For
such a time as this, Israeli leaders need the courage and the will to do the

   1.  They need to realize that violence can only beget violence and that
   despair can only beget desperate actions. Therefore the state must stop
   the cycle of violence and the cycle of vengeance.

   2. They need to address the root causes of the problems:  racist laws,
   the military occupation, and the illegal settlements.

   3. They need to stop all collective punishments, arbitrary killings, and
   extra judicial executions and let the rule of law take its due course.
   It is unjust to punish innocent persons for the actions of a suspected few.

   4. They need to work with the United Nations and the Palestinian
   Authority to find the resolution of the conflict on the basis of
   international law that will guarantee the needs of peace and security
   for both Israel and Palestine.

We lament the inaction of world leaders in the face of the entrenchment of
the occupation.  They need to realize that ultimately the resolution of the
conflict requires outside intervention.  World powers helped create the
conflict and world powers must help resolve it.

For such a time as this, "He told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does
the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk
humbly with your God"
(Micah 6:8)

The Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek

Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, Jerusalem

July 4, 2014