Brutality, Oppression Outrage Visitors: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Walk Arabs' `Via Dolorosa'

Anglican Journal, April 1998 | Go to article overview

Brutality, Oppression Outrage Visitors: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Walk Arabs' `Via Dolorosa'


SABEEL CONFERENCE STATEMENT

Bethlehem

At the invitation of Sabeel Liberation Theology Center and its local and international partners, more than 900 people (Christians, Muslims and Jews) from diverse parts of the world gathered in Bethlehem from Feb. 10-15, 1998 to stand in solidarity and proclaim the challenge of jubilee. They came to discern God's call for them as peacemakers promoting justice for all people.

Most participants in the conference travelled throughout the Holy Land, before and after the formal proceedings, encountering local people and places in the Galilee, Gaza, Hebron and Jerusalem. The participants were outraged and horrified at the level of oppression and brutality of the Israeli occupation as they walked the contextual "via dolorosa" of the Palestinian people.

1998 commemorates the 50th year of the dispossession of the Palestinian people on one hand and the establishment of the state of Israel on the other. While Israelis are planning festive celebrations to mark victories and accomplishments, Palestinians who continue to struggle for the cause of justice, peace and liberation, find themselves in the midst of a profoundly stalemated "peace process" with a deeply frustrated hope for liberation.

Inspired by the biblical theme of jubilee, participants worshipped and prayed together as they were inspired by the challenge of God's word "to proclaim liberty to all the land's inhabitants" (Leviticus 25:10). "What does God require but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God" Micah 6:8). "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me...to preach good news to the poor...to let the oppressed go free..." (Luke 4:18-19).

The challenge is to practice perpetual jubilee and to articulate a new vision for peace, justice, security, and coexistence that satisfies the deepest needs of all God's people, rather than a solution based on military might and on a "balance of power" which inevitably favors the strong and allows for racism, oppression, and discrimination against the weak. …

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