“December’s ‘Impact Holy Land’ conference in Philadelphia had variety. The roster of speakers included Palestinians sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and Messianic Jews sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. In addition, there were impassioned speakers from places like Rochester, N.Y., on home leave from Christian Peacemaker Teams or other faith based groups that support grassroots resistance to Israel.” Andree Seu Peterson
December’s “Impact: Holy Land” conference in Philadelphia had variety. The roster of speakers included Palestinians sympathetic to the Palestinian
cause and Messianic Jews sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. In addition, there were impassioned speakers from places like Rochester, N.Y., on home leave from Christian Peacemaker Teams or other faith-based groups that support grassroots resistance to Israel.
The online brochure, which claimed to have “sought Jesus followers from across a wide geographical and theological spectrum,” urged us to “be kind” because “we may hear difficult things this weekend.” But a stroll among the book tables during registration revealed who was in for an earful of “difficult things,” and it was not the Palestinian sympathizers. There were advertisements for tours by “Palestinian Summer Encounters”; books with titles like Letters from Apartheid Street: A Christian Peacemaker in Occupied Palestine; Washington lobbyists for anti-Israeli legislation; and just for the tykes, The Boy and the Wall, about a child living in a refugee camp.
That is to say, the unconscionable oppressiveness of Israel was the starting point of the “conversation,” not a proposition for debate. All that remained to “conversate” about was the means to peace in the Holy Land, through fostering one-on-one friendships between Palestinians, Israelis, and Americans—and notably through dismantling checkpoints; boycotting, divesting, and sanctioning Israeli companies; tearing down the West Bank wall; and returning occupied lands.
The problem for me through three days of Gaza kumbaya was that age-old bugbear of proper evidence-weighing: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17). I do poorly in arriving at truth where there is no one on hand to point out factual or theological error in a presentation, or to offer a different scenario. Continue reading