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?


johnny said...

Such a difficult situation, to say the least. You can certainly understand Israel's concern: they are surrounded by countries that don't recognize its existence. Yet I do believe the Palestinians deserve statehood.

My father was stationed out there with the British Army after WW2, and he saw firsthand exiled Palestinians and the hardship they suffered.

It is going to take some flexibiltiy on both sides. The Palestinians need to stop firing their ridiculous home-made rockets, and the Israelis need to stop expanding their settlements. Reading the book, "I Shall Not Hate" was an eye-opener on the plight of Palestinians.

I don't believe it is being anti-semitic to sympathize with them. Being against a government's policies does not mean you are prejudiced against Jews!

I wish I could have made the book club meeting on Saturday!

sjd said...

Seeing the word "Sovereignty" makes me think of Quebec wanting to seperate from Canada.
Having grown up anglaphone in Quebec through the seventies I know what it's like to be a minority. Tensions can run pretty high, and there certainly wasn't as much at stake as the Isralie/Palestinian situation.

A debate such as this has no fine line down the middle. Big hurtful words are thrown around because the thinking from both sides is "If your not with us your against us."

Deborah Laforet said...

As I said to Jeff this afternoon, I am so sick of the direction our government is going. I feel like a lot of justice concerns are being pushed aside, including the Palestinian/Israeli struggle.