Wednesday, 25 May 2011

“Old Habits Die Hard: A Critique of Recent Christian Statements on Israel”

This paper was given by Professor Amy Jill Levine at the Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths in Cambridge earlier this month. I have posted on A J Levine's work before  and have personally found her work very helpful and challenging. Levine is a Jewish Feminist Scholar of the New Testament someone long involved in Christian – Jewish Dialogue and an active supporter of the Israeli Peace Movement. I think her critique of the Methodist Report and other Christian perspectives on Israel & Palestine needs to be engaged with. As you can see from the paper she offers them in a spirit of dialogue and is NOT saying that we shouldn't critique Israel or the Occupation – something she herself campaigns on. Two quotes below from the beginning and end of the document give you a flavour of the piece. You may not agree with her on everything or anything but it will certainly help to sharpen your thinking, her work has certainly had that effect on me. She is a great dialogue partner. I've also put a link to the paper on a previous posting  RESOURCES FOR REFLECTING UPON 'JUSTICE FOR PALESTINE & ISRAEL' REPORT & INTER FAITH RELATIONS

Our concern today is not with these positions in general. Our concern is with rhetoric and example. We shall explore how churches might preclude critique from Jewish groups and promote cooperation by attending not only to what is said, but also to how it is said, and to what is not said. To often rhetoric becomes the stumbling block to understanding, and so to strategic alliance……

The Methodist (2010) statement concludes that “a greater understanding of the theology needs developing to inform responses to differing attitudes and actions to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, in order that theological reflection and conversations may form the basis of the attitude of the Methodist Church and Methodist people” and it recommends that “wherever possible, the work of the Methodist Church and Methodists on this issue should be done in partnership with Christians of all denominations, with inter-faith groups and with the Jewish and Muslim communities” – Amen. If we can hear with each other’s ears, and avoid stumbling blocks that prevent alliances, we are all in a better position to work for the peace that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all so highly value. I’ve listed several areas where caution is advised. There are no doubt more. I thank you for travelling with me on this difficult subject. The floor is now yours for comment and critique.

Also check out her forthcoming Rabbi Tann Memorial lecture here in Birmingham