A couple of weeks back I posted on the subject of Liberation Theology (see here). Then there were two meetings I had with some local Christians to discuss the subject. Part of my homework was to read a book by an Anglican vicar working in Bradford, who is doing Liberation Theology, and in such a radical way that if I were to try it at my church I would likely be excommunicated. He raised many issues and cited several situations where people needed to be liberated, all of which he argued was about social justice, in line with the Bible’s teaching to side with the poor and the oppressed, with an emphasis on doing rather than talking and if need be engaging in acts of civil disobedience – all of which I found challenging!
One of the areas I picked up was the plight of the Palestinian people and how to liberate them. He cited a visit he made to the occupied territories where the attitude of the Israelis to the Palestinian was not nice, to put it mildly. It reminded me also of past blogs when I agonized over the rights and wrongs of what is happening in Israel, and wanting to do what no-one has succeeded in doing, despite great endeavour, and that is to find enduring solutions. On one hand, there is the need of the Israelis to live in peace and security and their perception, real and imagined, that they are under threat from within and without. On the other hand, there is a list longer than my arm of injustices perpetrated by the Israelis on the Palestinians. It got me thinking about the approach of this Bradford vicar in trying to redress the social justices he had no doubt were happening in Israel, including the sort of protest and boycott type actions we once saw against the South African apartheid regime. It also got me thinking if and to what extent what “his church” was doing is something I feel we should be doing too, given it is the sort of political activism many Christian folk distant themselves from, often for well argued reasons. In the case of Israel, it is as much for religious reasons. There are many whose sympathies lie with the Israelis and whose inclinations are to support them if they can.
My mind turned to the recent US Presidential election, which I have written about extensively. There are many aspects to Donald Trump’s victory that have been discussed at length, but one that is not mentioned much is the attitude of President elect Trump toward Israel and comparing this with that of the current President. While I have gone on record that I share many of the concerns of the Christian right, one I am less comfortable with is their call to the USA to provide more support for Israel than is currently the case and letting them off the hook concerning their unjust actions toward the Palestinians. Listening to the speeches of Mr. Trump, it is evident that this will be the case under his administration and, from what I can make out, Trump’s response to Israel will be a lot more sympathetic to that of Obama’s. Listening to the reaction of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, he believes unqualified support to be the case and some fear it will embolden him to oppress the foreigner in the midst more than he is currently doing.
The purpose of this post is not to take sides on this highly complex situation, even though this is one subject more than most that polarizes opinion among the few that give it much thought. I have deliberated much over the issues, mindful of my early Christian, pro-Israel upbringing, and I have given my view (see several past posts) and these are much the same now, including while I know more than most I still know hardly anything and I try not to side with either Israelis or Palestinians, but rather with God. I would love to meet with people of integrity who wish to discuss the issues and entreat the Almighty on these matters. In the past few months, I have somewhat neglected Israel in my subjects for consideration, for there has been much else to blog about, including Brexit and the US elections, as well as disturbing happenings in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria. Strangely enough, Israel has not featured much, although I have no doubt it is watching closely and will and that soon. Trump’s pledge to reverse the US – Iran peace accord and Iran’s hostile attitude toward Israel are two of many factors than cannot be discounted. My pledge is to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the Jewish people, and seek justice for the Palestinian people. Liberation is an important factor in my deliberations and so is holding a theology to go with it.