Summer School - "100 years after the Balfour Declaration - Why the West needs Israel" - A special debate?
Why not have a special debate one evening at Summer School to include Christopher Barder and someone to put the other point of view?
I think this would be of great interest and might answer Dr Nick’s point.
I have in fact been in Israel several times and during our recent visits we travelled independently and freely around Israel and the Occupied West Bank on public transport. On the West Bank we visited Bethlehem and Jericho: one of our visits to Bethlehem was organised by an Israeli Tour Guide with a Palestinian acquaintance on the other side of “The Wall” who he had never met in person. Tourism in the Holy Land is definitely a good thing.
My first visit to Israel was in 1959 and I also visited the West Bank which was then occupied by Jordan. The West Bank in 1959 was home to many Palestinian refugees who were forced to live and remain in the camps by Arab governments. This condemned the refugees and their families to many years of destitution and misery.
Palestinians have been used over the years as pawns in Arab politics: the latest (not Arab) is the interference by Iran. Iran sponsors both Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza strip. Both Hezbollah and Hamas are regarded as terror groups by the EU and USA. Hamas launches rockets at towns in Israel with the aim of killing civilians. Israel has good protection in place which is why we don’t hear of casualties : it’s not for want of trying by Hamas.
The Palestinian leadership over the years has been lamentable. Yasser Arafat missed the great opportunity of a two state solution in 2000. Arafat was more concerned to burnish his ego as the great liberation struggle leader (he spoke to the UN General Assembly with a pistol in his belt).
I accept that there are human rights abuses by the Israeli army (Israeli soldiers have been prosecuted for these) but stone throwing is very dangerous and hurts people. It should stop, along with stabbing innocent Israeli citizens and the provocative firing of rockets from Gaza.
The Diocesan Synod’s statement should include these concerns.
There should also be an acknowledgment by the Synod that the terror groups mentioned above (Hamas & Hezbollah) have the “destruction of the State of Israel” in their charters.
This would be part of an acknowledgement that Israel faces existential pressures quite unlike most of those faced by countries in the western world.