Thursday, September 22, 2011
Saturday past 25 people came to St. Paul's for the breakfast book club. While we munched on delicious food prepared by Carol and Helen we talked about the book I Shall Not Hate by the Palestinian physician Izzeldin Abulaish. I really appreciated the thoughtfulness of the group. As we began I pointed out that while the United Church has always supported the existence of the state of Israel, our denomination has a long history of concern over the plight of the Palestinian people.
This stance has dunked us in hot water since the late 1960's. The editor of the United Church Observer, Al Forrest, was criticized back then for raising the issues, then a couple of years ago the Canadian Jewish Congress accused the United Church of being anti-semitic because our General Council was looking at motions which condemned Israel's strong-arm approach, as well as supporting Palestinian sovereignty. Calling us anti-semitic was a strange criticism given that we are a church that strongly supports dialogue with our Jewish neighbours. It was the injustice that the United Church was speaking to, not religion.
Tomorrow a Palestinian delegation including President Abbas (above) will petition the United Nations for statehood. Palestinians are fed up with years of talk with no action. The conditions in the West Bank and Gaza continue to deteriorate and there is no real right to self determination. While the United States supports Palestinian statehood, they will probably veto the petition because the Palestinians are not playing by their rules of negotiation. Under Prime Minister Harper Canada has become pro-Israeli to the point that concerns for Palestinians have virtually disappeared.
What are your thoughts about all this? Do the complex issues confuse you? Do you think Palestine has the right to statehood?