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Thanks for your thoughtful questions to address this overture. I can only hope that whoever is considering it will take your questions to heart. This overture was twice rejected by Classis British Columbia South East because of the one-sided nature of the argument. Its author is passionate for the Palestinian cause, but that passion has closed his mind to any serious dialogue or consideration of the complexities of the situation in the Middle East. We've had extended dialogue with him on the matter, but he persists with a very one-sided agenda.

The situation in Israel/Palestine is incredibly riven and complex. We need to be cautious about wading into this conversation with broad-based and church-wide declarations without real and full understanding of the issues on the ground there. I can only hope and pray that saner heads will prevail at synod to see through the narrowness of this deeply flawed overture.

Rather than highlighting only justice issues, the CRC would be much better served by a broader focus on "reconciliation" in this context. A reconciliatory approach which has justice as a component avoids the tendency to demonize the "other" side, and promotes listening and dialogue instead.

There is a time to speak out in matters, but we need to know what we are talking about. Yes, there is injustice on the part of the Israeli government in this situation. The problem with the overture is that it only looks at the injustice from one side. There is injustice, exploitation, and abuse on both sides, and to call one side to account while ignoring the abuses of the other side is not the right approach. People and churches tend to be all pro-Israel, or all pro-Palestinian. This overture errs in the latter direction. If we as a church are going to begin to speak into this complex situation, we need to do a lot more research and study of the situation on the ground there. 

Putting justice as our primary focus is a mistake. Reconciliation is the better focus and starting point. A good example is the organization Musalah, let by the Palestinian Israeli, Dr. Salim Munayer. This overture, by contrast, is neither balanced nor fair in its assessment.

Thanks for your summary comments John. I certainly wouldn't want to let the Israeli government off the hook in any way for the injustices coming from their side, and Martin makes a good point of that. However, there are 2 narratives at work here, and we need to carefully listen to and understand them both if we are going to have any legitimate voice in this conversation. This overture really only listens to one of those narratives, and Classis BCSE wisely (I believe) saw through the short-sightedness of that approach. So thanks for sharing another voice from that other narrative.

Re comparisons made with other situations: I have frequently argued that the comparison between this Israel/Palestine situation and apartheid is mistaken and unfair - the situations are simply not the same, and making such comparisons is dangerous. I was saddened to hear mention of a comparison to Nazism (and almost inevitably, by implication, to the holocaust). Martin is careful to not make that comparison, and rightly so. Any hint of such a comparison is, quite frankly, repulsive - especially to any from the Jewish community. We need to be really careful in that regard; to make such a comparison would essentially jeopardize any possibility of credible witness to the Jewish and Israeli communities.

On the other hand, we also need to be really careful of mentioning the possible denial of Palestinian peoplehood. I think that's hardly for us to decide, and could well be interpreted very negatively by our Palestinian brothers and sisters who do need our support and prayers. Probably better to leave that out of the conversation. So many potential mine fields here!

Thanks again. Indeed our prayers will be with the delegates as they discuss and debate this complex and potentially contentious issue.

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