I have a few observations to make about the open letter from the Mennonite Church Canada network of regional working groups on Palestine and Israel (“MC Canada working groups call for sanctions against Israel,” May 21, page 28).
The following letter was drafted by representatives of the Mennonite Church Canada network of regional working groups on Palestine and Israel, and sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign affairs minister, on May 2, 2018. It is being published in Canadian Mennonite at the request of the working groups.
Naim Ateek speaks to an audience at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and his new book on Palestinian liberation theology. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)
“We have to begin by crying out for justice. You build peace on justice.”
Naim Ateek uttered this plea on April 25 2018, before more than 150 people gathered at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg to hear him speak about his new book, A Palestinian Theology of Liberation: The Bible, Justice, and the Palestine-Israel Conflict.
MCC Canada board member David Chow grew up believing that the current state of Israel is a continuation of the biblical people of Israel, and that building up the state of Israel is a sign that Jesus is returning. Chow visited the West Bank with other members of MCC’s board in September and October of 2016. The learning tour shifted his perspective on the region and what the kingdom of God looks like. (MCC photo)
Daoud Nassar is a farmer living in the West Bank who is committed to nonviolence. Nassar lives at the Tent of Nations, a farm and educational centre near Bethlehem, where his family has lived for more than 100 years. The farm is surrounded by five Israeli settlements collectively called Gush Etzion. In 1991, the Israeli government declared the Nassar’s farm to be state land, and there were plans to expand the settlements onto the Nassars’ property. The family hired a lawyer and took the case to court. It is still unresolved. The family opened the Tent of Nations on their land in 2000, hosting international guests to work on their farm and to learn more about their life in Palestine. (MCC photo)
David Chow recalls sitting in Sunday school as a child and learning about what the nation of Israel meant for Christians in a traditional Christian Missionary Alliance congregation in Calgary, Alberta.
Chow grew up believing that the current state of Israel is a continuation of the biblical people of Israel, and that building up the state of Israel is a sign that Jesus is returning.
Some years ago, in the book The Body and the Blood, reporter Charles Sennott of the Boston Globe lamented the Middle East’s vanishing Christian population, many leaving because of the bitter conflicts there. They were needed, Sennott argued, because they represented a mediating force, even those not committed to pacifism.
Seminar participants and Mennonite Central Committee staff gather in front of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. (Photo by Nadia García)
Right before winter reading break, 30 university students from across Canada gathered in Ottawa to learn about the current conflict in Palestine and Israel at a seminar hosted by the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada Ottawa Office. From Feb. 15–17, students attending “Palestine and Israel: Let no walls divide” explored issues of advocacy, peace and justice.
Tear gas containers litter the gardens near the separation wall between Israel and the West Bank Palestinians know that every Friday they can expect tear gas to be lobbed into the refugee camps outside of Bethlehem. (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)
The separation wall in Bethlehem, in the West Bank. (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)
‘How you experience holy is different than you expect it to be.’ -Rev. Carrie Ballenger Smith
After a year of travel, seeking faith and justice on four continents, there are lessons that I am still unpacking. Between the busy schedules of church, master’s thesis work, travel and work with the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), it takes a moment of pause to catch up with my experiences. And so, I pause. I look back to remember.
I have received a new call from Bethlehem Bible College (BBC) and Mennonite Church Canada to go to Palestine/Israel for nine weeks to teach Pastoral Care and Counseling in the biblical towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth. There are over 70 churches and 55,000 Arab Christians in Palestine. Unfortunately, few of the pastors have been trained in the practice of pastoral care. I will seek to respond to some of that need.