Learning about Israel and Palestine
This past weekend was the 2010 ELCA Metro Chicago Synod Assembly. (Translation: the annual gathering of 400 or so Chicago-area ELCA pastors and congregation members to discuss issues, policies, and official business of the metro-Chicago division of the ELCA.)
Among the resolutions that we discussed were three that dealt with Israel/Palestine and issues related to the Holy Land. This, honestly, is a a set of issues about which I know far less than I wish I did. And it is a set of issues that I nevertheless have strong feelings about. This means that I am constantly on the hunt for helpful information that can help me honestly frame the issue for myself. It is a difficult topic to discuss. It is highly controversial, and there are issues embedded in issues embedded in issues. I get the sense that both sides of the issue dismiss information provided by the other as "propaganda," and I myself am still quite naive when it comes to distinguishing unbiased information from propaganda. A starting place for me is to explore the commitment of the ELCA to stand in solidarity with our partner church in Palestine (the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, or ELCJHL).
I have spent a small amount of time browsing the multitude of resources concerning Israel/Palestine on the Peace Not Walls page of the ELCA website. (There's a lot there - I admit that I have barely scratched the surface.) In fact, my first real introduction to the issues at stake was this video: Peace Not Walls - Making a Difference in the Holy Land
One of the resolutions that we discussed was one that asked our synod to endorse the Kairos Palestine Document, a document written by Palestinian Christians for Palestinian Christians, expressing their own sufferings and hopes for the future.
Also, just a few weeks ago, I heard this piece on the radio, and found it quite interesting, especially his thoughts on Christians, and especially Christian clergy, when it comes to discussing issues surrounding the Holy Land: Worldview - Talking about Israel
I still have much to learn. But it is obvious to me that this is a matter of justice, of human rights, of the nature of faith and religion, and of the strengths and limitations of politics. I think that I feel strongly about the issue precisely because it touches on so many deep and, ultimately, universal themes. Please let me know if there are other resources that you have found helpful in learning more about the Holy Land - I very much want to continue my education.