Synod 2019 will be asked to deliberate Overture #6 from the Council of East Hill Community CRC, Vernon, British Columbia entitled “Follow Christ in the Way of Peace, Doing Justice, and Bringing Reconciliation to the Peoples of Israel and Palestine.” (see the Agenda for Synod 2019).
The council of East Hill Community CRC overtures Synod 2019 of the Christian Reformed Church to act on the following:
- To increase the awareness of our members that in the ongoing conflict the system of official policies and practices of the Israeli government with respect to the treatment of Palestinians violates biblical principles of justice and righteousness.
- To, along with other Christians, continue to call on our respective governments and ultimately the government of Israel to hear God’s call to practice justice with regard to the Palestinian peoples.
- To encourage the Palestinian peoples and Israel to continue to choose the way of a nonviolent path to peace in the face of this deteriorating 52-year occupation.
- To instruct the Council of Delegates to instruct the Office of Social Justice to continue to lead our churches into taking appropriate action by providing educational resources, consultation, and coordination of our congregations’ efforts in addressing these injustices.
To assist delegates in their deliberations with this Overture, I would like them to ask them to contemplate the following ten questions.
- Given that the word ‘Palestine’ is derived from Roman occupation of Jewish territory of what they called “Philistine” (after the Bar Kokhba revolt of 134 AD) is it possible that the very term carries other meanings than its present day connotations as applied to an ethnicity, for example?
- Given that the region was Jewish originally, and that invaders of Arabic and Muslim origin then occupied it, a valid question might be “whose land is it anyways?” A further question that is addressed below is “is this all about land, anyways?”
- Given that the region now called Israel/Palestine was under Islamic control, how does this play into the equation? Islam has a doctrine called ‘waqf’ which essentially declares that any land that has been in Islamic hands must remain so until perpetuity, and if it reverts to non-Muslim hands, then war is declared in perpetuity. Has the overture sufficiently considered the consequences of the doctrine of waqf?
- Given that enmity between Muslims and Jews was declared at the time of the founding of Islam, and that Islamic texts, including its eschatology portray a strong anti-Semitism, should this dynamic enter the equation?
- Given that a reaction to Christian Zionism [largely driven by dispensational theology] is now Christian Palestinianism [largely driven by liberation theology] how should delegates navigate theologically through these two opposing and yet very vocal options?
- Given that there is ample evidence of exploitation of victimization on the part of some Palestinians with the resultant effect to demonize all things Jewish [see unedited scripts from Palestinian TV here [MEMRI | Middle East Media Research Institute] where does the call for justice apply to this dynamic? Where does responsibility for Palestinian actions come into play?
- Given that there is evidence of exploitation of Palestinians by Palestinian leaders [*witness the fortunes that leaders such as the late Yasser Arafat, Mousa Abu Marzook and Khaled Meshaal have amassed] how will this injustice be addressed?
- Given that Christians of Arabic background in this region are doubly marginalized, either by a Jewish or Muslim majority, depending where they live, how will their plight be prioritized? Also, given that Christians throughout the world suffer injustices and that this must rank high on a list of Christian priorities, why does it seem that injustices towards Palestinians [Christian or otherwise] seem to have a higher “value” than say, Pakistani Christians trapped for years in refugee camps, than the almost unreported kidnappings of Christians in the Minya region of Egypt and the present systemic persecution of Christians in China?
- Given that many resources on the region for Christian reading tend either toward Christian Zionism [i.e., blessing all things Jewish] or Christian Palestinianism [i.e., blessing all things Palestinian] how will balanced resources be made available, in light of the overture’s leaning toward the second?
- As much as biblical justice is part of the mandate of the church and its members, where does the CRCNA draw lines around what its "core business" might be, and what might be the ministry of a certain group of interested members, without it needing the official funding, energy, and sanction of the CRCNA? In short, can the CRCNA ever say no to official advocacy for an injustice somewhere on this planet?