Sunday, December 07, 2003


Abuna Elias Chacour: "Either we stop claiming we are children of Abraham, or we act as brothers and try to reconcile."

Dr Denis MacEoin of Newcastle, writing in The Guardian:

"For years the left, which once admired Israeli socialism, has swung towards an uncritical support of the Palestinian cause. This has led the leftwing press to the point where it will never call Palestinian suicide bombers 'terrorists'; and where to express sympathy for the plight of the Israelis, surrounded for over 50 years by an ocean of vehement anti-semitism and calls for the destruction of their country, is to be branded as a traitor to liberal values.

"As a lifelong liberal, I have always supported Israel, because I believe its foundation was the proper response to the Holocaust. As an Arabist and Islamicist, I also hope that a fair and workable resolution can be found for the problems faced by the Palestinians. I just don't happen to think the two things are incompatible."

Fair comment, though he doesn't mention either a two-state or secular state 'resolution', so I'm unclear whether he supports full statehood for Palestinians, or only for Israelis.

To go to the guts of the matter rather more theologically, in the paraphrased words of Fr Elias Chacour, a Palestinian (Melkite) Christian and a Jewish citizen: it is vital that Jews and Palestinians stop regarding each other as mortal enemies and begin, instead, to recognise themselves in the wounds of the other. Only in the presence of the kind of suffering-transformed-into-hope made visible on the Cross (he says) can we begin to discover a new way of handling each other, the crimes that have been committed against us, and the sins we have perpetuated through cycles of hatred, denial and revenge. That means working across religious, political, cultural and social barriers to help each other to reconstruct our identities and out of that process slowly to discover a shared one.

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