Monday, 16 July 2012

The Church of England, EAPPI and Israel-Palestine

Giles Fraser offers a balanced commentary on the controversy regarding the Church of England's support for the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). Should the C of E remain silent on Israel-Palestine The General Synod has endorsed the EAPPI statement, but Fraser believes the Church of England's actions are open to challenge, even if he is sympathetic to the question of justice. He writes

"Nonetheless, the friends of Israel do themselves few favours if they insist that all criticisms of Israel's behaviour towards Palestinians are motivated by one-sidedness or hostility to Jews. I'm not saying this happens all the time. But when it does, those of us who want to be critical friends of Israel (and Palestine) find that the ground on which we stand is constantly eroded. I believe in the existence of the state of Israel and in its need for security. But the "with us or against us" approach needs to be resisted at all times. And that means holding a position that is likely to draw vociferous criticism from several different quarters. But unless this ground can be held, we concede to a dangerous binary division that can only be settled by further violence. To spell it out: critical friends have a responsibility to be both critical and to be friends."

We need to remember that there are political pressures on both sides in what is a highly charged dispute over land, but primarily Christians are called to work for peace, justice and reconciliation for all. There are human tragedies that are very real for those caught up in the conflict on both sides. Of course that is an easy platitude to say, but true nonetheless.

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