Palestinians and Israelis: A Short History of Conflict

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.

Continue reading

Dr Jeff Halper (ICAHD) on Religious Tribunals

As an Israeli Jew and the head of an Israeli human rights organization – ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – I am appalled by the very thought of bringing anyone, let alone such a principled person as Stephen Sizer, before a religious Tribunal. What, are we back to the Medieval days of the Inquisition? I can’t speak for the Church of England, but Jews, the British Board of Deputies, participating in a religious Tribunal?! The very thought is appalling. What has happened to us, Jews and Christians together? Are we willing to return to the dark processes of Tribunals with no legal underpinnings, no genuine evidence or testimony, conducted solely against people whose views we don’t like – besmirch and destroy people’s lives – just to prevent criticism of Israel? Is it really so easy, in the 21st Century, to persecute people for their religious and political views? Savonarola meets Trump?

The charges against Dr. Sizer are untrue and trumped-up – and you all know it. Antisemitism?! How do you possibly defend yourself against such a charge? In the intellectual and democratic world in which most of us live, Dr. Sizer has made a rational, well-researched case for his views and analysis presented in articles, books and lectures based firmly on academic research and religious history. But that is exactly the type of person for which Tribunals are necessary, since analyses like Dr. Sizer presents, unpopular in some partisan circles as they may be, cannot be dismissed in academic circles or barred in courts of law. They must be denounced in Tribunals with no moral, legal or intellectual authority, and as in all religious Tribunals, the person maligned and destroyed in order to somehow delegitimize his or her views. I am embarrassed for all of you – and downright angry at the Jews who participate in the dark proceeding of religious Tribunals.

Continue reading

Revd Dave Smith on the Pandemic and Social Justice in Australia

Reverend Dave Smith, also known as Father Dave or the Fighting Father, is an Anglican priest who served as parish priest for 30 years in Sydney’s inner-west. It was here he became known for his work with at-risk youth and was nominated three times for Australian of the Year.

He took up professional boxing in 1996 to help fund his youth programs and is currently Australia’s oldest active professional fighter. Father Dave is also well known for his social justice advocacy and inter-faith work. He is the father of four children and the author of two books, the most recent being “Christians and Muslims can be friends” (2020)

Continue reading

Book Aid: Remembering Bishop John Ellison

Yesterday I collected about 15 boxes of Christian literature for Book Aid from the Oasis Christian Centre in Romsey which acts as a hub for donations from customers. We then take on to Book Aid’s regional hub in Southsea.

Last week I also received a collection of theological books donated from the estate of the Right Revd John Ellison, former Anglican Bishop of Paraguay 1988-2007 who died in 2019. John had been a good friend, an occasional preacher at Christ Church, Virginia Water, and more recently, a member of the Peacemakers International Board of Reference. We are grateful to John’s family for some of his theological books donated to Book Aid. Andrew Symes wrote a moving testimony to John’s life and ministry for Anglican Mainstream. In these two short videos I interviewed Bishop John about the state of the Episcopal Church in North America and the Church of England.

Continue reading

Archbishop Mouneer Anis on the Centre for Christian Muslim Understanding and Partnership

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.

The Centre for Christian-Muslim Understanding and Partnership was established in order to bring these projects together in one organisation, in order to further develop and resource this vital work in the future. The idea for such a centre was developed and supported by the Anglican Archbishop of Alexandria, the Most Rev. Dr. Samy Fawzy Shehata, and His Eminence, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr Ahmed Al-Tayyeb. Archbishop Samy then asked Archbishop Emeritus Mouneer Anis to develop the centre and serve as its first director.

See also Egypt’s Anglicans Offer Challenge to Intolerance

A Response to ‘Cry for Hope’: A Call to the Churches and the WCC Assembly 2022

Statement from the Sabeel-Kairos Theology Group Consultation held at the Gladstone Library, Hawarden, Flintshire, 15-17 March 2022. Endorsed by Sabeel-Kairos UK.

We met during the days immediately following the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces on the orders of President Vladimir Putin, recognized by the United Nations as a flagrant breach of international law, and causing millions of Ukrainian families to flee for their lives, cross borders, and add to the ever-growing number of refugees.

We remembered that in the wake of another war in 1948 three-quarters of a million Arab Palestinians (60% of the Arab population) were driven from their homes and became refugees as the State of Israel was born. Although every year their right to return is renewed by the UN, it is ignored with impunity by the Israeli state. Since 1967 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have endured an ongoing violent military occupation, and those living inside Israel are designated as second-class citizens. So, why after all these years are we still here, calling for an end to this seemingly unending denial of human rights?

Continue reading

Convivencia Alliance Launch

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

A new initiative to help bring a just peace in the Middle East was launched in London yesterday, invoking the periods of mutual co-existence enjoyed by the three Abrahamic faiths in medieval Spain and the Ottoman Empire.
Convivencia is a cross-faith, international initiative for a just peace in the Middle East that seeks to substitute the current militarised ‘solutions’ based on racist oppression, brute force, denial of rights and colonial dispossession with an approach predicated on shared values and commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The conveners were Professor Haim Bresheeth and David Cannon of Jewish Network for Palestine (JNP), Massoud Shadjareh of the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) and myself.
Continue reading