Category Archives: Middle East

Palestinians and Israelis: A Short History of Conflict – A Review

Michael Scott-Baumann’s book on the history of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is the most useful I have read in a very long while. The book is a literary equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife. In 258 pages, broken up into ten easy to read chapters, the author provides much more than a concise history of the conflict. The value of the book is enhanced significantly by the inclusion of an index, a helpful glossary of key terms and people, a chronological time line and a bibliography for further study. The book will also prove useful for interactive group discussion as each chapter begins with key questions answered and concludes with personal testimonies to illustrate the human impact of the conflict. 

Over seventy years old, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is now the longest unresolved dispute in the hands of the United Nations. It is also the subject of more UN Resolutions than any other dispute in the world. Michael Scott-Baumann’s book explains the reasons why and puts in context the futile attempts at resolving the conflict, or indeed to diffuse the simmering tensions which all too frequently erupt in violence and death, invariably of Palestinian civilians.

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The Centre for Christian Muslim Understanding and Partnership: An Interview with Archbishop Mouneer Anis

An interview with Archbishop Mouneer Anis, First Archbishop of the Anglican Province of Alexandria, about the launch of the Centre for Christian Muslim Understanding and Partnership at All Saints Cathedral in Cairo this week. The vision is to promote peace and harmony between faith communities through more understanding of faiths, cultures and through working together for the common good.

The Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Egypt played an important role in the drafting of the interfaith agreement between the Anglican Communion and Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, signed in 2002 at Lambeth Palace in London. Since then, the Diocese and Al-Azhar have worked together on many community projects through Egypt, and have arranged and participated in an annual dialogue meeting. 

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Convivencia Alliance Launch: Sunday 8 May

New Middle East peace initiative seeks to harness spirit of Spanish Golden Age.

You are invited to the public launch of the Convivencia Alliance on Sunday, 8 May 2022 at 2pm, P21 Gallery, 21 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD.

Speakers include: Mr. Awad Abd Al-Fattah, (One Democratic State, Palestine), Prof. Haim Bresheeth (Jewish Network for Palestine), Prof. Jeff Halper (ICAHD Israel), Rifat Odeh Kassis, (Kairos Palestine, Jerusalem), Mr. Massoud Shadjareh (Islamic Human Rights Commission), Reverend Dr. Stephen Sizer, Ms. Naomi Wimborne Idrissi and Prof. Ramón Grosfoguel (University of California, Berkeley)

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The Lord’s Prayer in Time of War

Our Father, who art in heaven,
slow to anger, and of great mercy, lover of all peoples of the earth,

Hallowed be thy Name.
Remind us that “all the nations are as nothing before thee,”
their governments but a shadow of passing age;

Thy kingdom come on earth.
Grant to thy children throughout the world,
and especially to the leaders of the nations,
the gift of prayerful thought and thoughtful prayer;
that following the example of our Lord,
we may discern what is right, and do it;

Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Help us to protect and to provide for all who are hungry and homeless,
especially those who are deprived of food and shelter,
family and friends, by the tragedy of war;

Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us for neglecting to “seek peace and pursue it,”
and finding ourselves in each new crisis,
more ready to make war than to make peace.
“We have not loved thee with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves”;

Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Let us not seek revenge, but reconciliation;
Let us not delight in victory, but in justice;
Let us not give ourselves up to pride, but to prayer;

Lead us not into temptation.
Be present to all thy children ravaged by war:
Be present to those who are killing and to those who are being killed;
Be present to the loved ones of those who are killing
and to the loved ones of those who are being killed;

Deliver us from evil.
Subdue our selfish desires to possess and to dominate,
and forbid us arrogance in victory;

For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

~ written by Wendy Lyons

Convivencia: Interfaith Coexistence

Convivencia simply means ‘coexistence’. It is an academic hypothesis, first proposed by the Spanish philologist Américo Castro, regarding the coexistence of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities during the period of Spanish history from the Muslim Umayyad conquest of Hispania in the early eighth century until the expulsion of the Jews in 1492.

By extension the term can describe the contemporary religious and cultural interaction and exchange fostered by such proximity as a way to challenge the various forms of ethno-supremacism and exclusive religious nationalisms emerging in different parts of the world. 

Professor Haim Bresheeth has written a short introductory article on Convivencia published by Faith Initiative.

In June 2021, The Jewish Network for Palestine invited me to give a short presentation on Convivencia at their annual meeting. JNP have written a significant document on Convivencia to be launched in the Spring, in liaison with Muslim and Christian organisations.

Sabeel-Kairos UK Conference Statement on Israel

The following statement was endorsed by the Trustees of Sabeel-Kairos UK with the support of Sabeel Jerusalem and Kairos Palestine and was published at the annual Sabeel-Kairos UK conference on 24th September 2021.

‘Having considered a Christian response to Israeli apartheid, we affirm that all people are created equally in the image of God; we commend the B’TSelem and Human Rights Watch documents designating Israel as an apartheid state; we repudiate all forms of racism and discrimination; and we recommit ourselves to working for justice, peace and reconciliation in Israel/Palestine.”

You may download a  Bible Study for personal reflection or group discussion as well as a longer briefing paper on a Biblical Response to Israeli Apartheid 

For a more detailed examination of the biblical relationship between Israel and the Church (and deconstruction of Christian Zionism), download Seven Biblical Answers.

B’Tselem Report: This is Apartheid
Human Rights Watch: A Threshold Crossed

Ancestral Journeys and Western Mission: A Review

Like other Western colonial-settler experiments, for over 70 years, Zionists have been systematically erasing the culture and history of indigenous Palestinians to justify their forced removal and the theft of their land. Ilan Pappe, in his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, calls this ‘memorocide’ and in The Palestine Nakba, Nur Masalha elaborates, 

“The founding myths of Israel have dictated the conceptual removal of Palestinians before, during and after their physical removal in 1948… The de-Arabisation of Palestine, the erasure of Palestinian history and the elimination of the Palestinian’s collective memory by the Israeli state are no less violent than the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948 and the destruction of historic Palestine.”

This is why books such as Ancestral Journeys and Western Missions are so vital in recording the memories and eyewitness accounts of Arabs and Palestinians who experienced the arrival of Western colonialists to the Middle East, were co-opted into their wars, witnessed the rise of Zionism and then became refugees in the Palestinian Nakba.  Anita Damiani-Shanley’s book will most certainly help perpetuate their heritage and rightful historic claim to Palestine.

Ancestral Journeys is however much more than the story of two families, one Arab and the other Scottish joined in marriage. It traces the influence of missionaries, archaeologists, traders and colonialists competing with each other for a share of the Near East as the Ottoman Empire met its demise. Richly illuminated with family photos, the three main chapters trace the ancestral journeys of Damiani-Shanley’s extended family from Scotland and Lebanon to Iraq and then to Palestine. A fourth chapter traces the role of the Anglican Church in Palestine.  

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Leave Well Alone: Prospects for War and Peace in the Middle East

In today’s Guardian newspaper, an editorial reports on a speech given by US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo on the new US strategy of “Real Deterrence”

“Pompeo says killing of Suleimani is part of ‘bigger strategy’ to deter US foes… His speech, The Restoration of Deterrence: The Iranian Example, focused on what he called a Trump administration strategy to establish “real deterrence” against Iran…”[1]

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Can Religion and Politics be Separated in the Middle East Today?

A presentation by Colin Chapman
Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide Seminar
9 October, 2018

 Introduction

Let me begin with a one-sentence answer: it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible to separate religion and politics in the Middle East today; and the future is bleak unless we can find ways of separating religion and politics and allowing religion to support an international order that is based on the rule of law.

This presentation is very much a ‘big picture’ exercise, an attempt to put some of the pieces of the jig-saw puzzle together. As a Christian who is interested in the role of religion and the interaction of religion with politics, I’m trying to make sense of the history that is being played out before us in the Middle East at the present time.

I probably need to explain my credentials. I’m not a historian or a political scientist. I happen to have worked with a mission agency, the Church Mission Society (CMS), in the Middle East for 18 years and have been engaged in theological education of different kinds both there and in the UK, specialising in recent years in Islamic studies. Continue reading