Search This Blog

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Conversation About Borders

On 19 May 2011, President Obama gave a major speech on the Middle East in which he said that "The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states." Prime Minister Netanyahu responded in part by saying, "...Israel not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines which are both indefensible and which would leave major Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria beyond those lines."
The difficulty of finding even a starting (re-start) position illustrates the seeming impossibility of finding common ground. Yet I have hope. My hope is not in world leaders, however much I may admire and support one or another. My hope is in God whom I believe capable of moving human hearts to bring about peace in our lifetimes. Specifically, I believe in the God of the prophet Micah who called peoples of all nations and many religions to dwell together in peace: I will take these words with me Jerusalem.
Micah 4:1 In days to come the mountain of the house of the Holy One of Old shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised up above the hills; peoples shall stream to it. 2 And many nations shall come and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Holy One, to the house of the God of Jacob; that God may teach us God's ways and that we may walk in God's paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Fire of Sinai from Jerusalem. 3 God shall judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; 4 but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Commander of Heaven's Armies has spoken. 5 For all the peoples walk, each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of God-Whose-Name-Is-Holy, our God forever and ever.
I look forward to (re-) discovering other words there and bringing yet other words home with me.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Images of Jerusalem

Images of Jerusalem

Prayers for Peace

Seek the shalom of Yerushalayim and pray for the peace of Palestine.
As I prepare to return to Jerusalem I find myself praying for peace in these days in which conversations about the formation of a Palestinian state have taken center stage, again, for awhile, in the media of the United States. I am revisiting some of the scriptures that speak to me across time and space offering hope and the promise of peace, particularly for Jerusalem.
Psalm 122:6 famously bids prayers for Jerusalem, and the second phrase speaks to me anew in these days: May they who love you, Jerusalem, may they prosper.
Today I think of all who love Jerusalem: Muslims, Christians and Jews, secular and religious Jews, progressive and conservative Christians, moderate and fundamentalist Muslims, politicians and private citizens. May they - we - all prosper, in the ways of peace and security and well-being, and sufficiency and abundance and goodness, in humanity and dignity, and in justice and righteousness.
And recalling the last verse, may we all seek that which is truly good, not that which is convenient, or expedient or popular, but that which is truly good good for Jerusalem and all who love her.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Israel and Palestine of My Dreams

I dream a world in which there will be a State of Israel and a State of Palestine, one in which the pain experienced at the founding of the state of Israel as the Nakbah, the Catastrophe, for some will be eclipsed by the promise and fulfillment of just societies.
I hold out hope that the people who produced the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel will live up to and into its promises (just as I hope we Americans will live up to and into our Constitution):
THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
WE APPEAL — in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months — to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.
I started this reflection with Israel and its founding documents because of the commitments they made in 1947. Commitments which I pray they will honor fully in the days and years to come. I hope for a Palestinian Constitution that enshrines protections for the rights and human dignities of all persons without regard for religion, culture or place of origin. And I would like to imagine that neither state will be a monolithic enclave but that there will be Jewish and Christian citizens of Palestine and Muslim and Christian citizens in Israel who will in all cases enjoy the full rights and dignities of citizenship, whose cultural and religious contributions to their societies will be welcome and enriching.
A key element in my dream is for people and peoples to be able to live together, in the same community and in distinct communities. As I look back at the intertwined histories and competing narratives of these two communities it occurs to me that there is no history in which only one people lived in that contested land without the presence of others, no matter who controlled the land or what the circumstances. May there be peace between all peoples, especially in the tiny, crowded land surrounding the holy city, Jerusalem.
So may it be. And may it be in our days.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Checking My Baggage

In seven days I will leave for Jerusalem.
I set up this blog to chronicle my sojourn in Jerusalem. But I will not travel to Yerushalayim without baggage. I bring with me religious and theological, social and political baggage. Jerusalem is important to me as a Christian, as a woman who prays in synagogue, as a person committed to inter-religious dialogue, as a woman who seeks peace on the earth in my lifetime, and as an American voter who communicates my desire for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to my elected representatives.
For me as a Christian, Jerusalem is the holy city of my scriptures and not-just-my-scriptures, the place where my God-in-human-flesh offered his life and life's blood for the redemption of all the worlds. It is a place where the best and worst of humanity collide, over and over again. It is a place that has been desecrated by violence within its gates and in its name.
As a partner in inter-religious and multi-faith conversations, I recognize Jerusalem as the ancient capital of biblical Israel and as the contested spiritual center(s) of contemporary Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Jerusalem is also the home and would-be home of women, men and children who want a good life for themselves and their children.
As a citizen of the United States of America, I am represented by my government that spends my tax dollars in support of the State of Israel and to a much lesser degree on humanitarian aid in the Palestinian territories. I care how that money is spent. I vote with that in mind and I write my representatives and bid them vote as I see fit, for what I hope will produce a just peace, with the enfranchisement, dignity and security of all.
I have come to Jerusalem as a pilgrim twice before. I can't imagine not being a pilgrim in this holy place. But this time, I should like to seek a different understanding of the city.
What is it like to live in one place for weeks at a time - forty days and forty nights? Not to visit the pilgrim sites, but to live, think, be - and in my case work and write?
This is some of the baggage I'm bringing with me. With what baggage shall I leave?
And now, as with all of my journeys, I pack and unpack and repack. My baggage is ever with me.