Thursday, 16 January 2014

Zoughbi Zoughbi founder and director of WI'AM, Bethlehem 8th January 2014

Speaking to an audience of about 100 people at Heythrop College, London, Zoughbi spoke at the invitation of Living Stones about the role of the Palestinian Christian Community today in Palestine/Israel.  Zoughbi spoke as the Director and founder of WI'AM, a centre for conflict transformation and was well received and followed by an informed discussion among people representing many different UK charities concerned about the situation. Zoughbi was in England as a guest speaker at the Christians Aware conference following later that week.

The Palestinian Christian and Muslim communities recognise that the solution to the present impasse is to end the Israeli occupation of  the West Bank including
 East Jerusalem and its control over Gaza. Jerusalem should serve as the capital for two states and spiritual capital for all lbrahamic religions.It is understood that this is in the interest of all parties including the Jewish and Arab Israelis of Israel itself. The Christian community has played a major part in the lives of all indigenous peoples of the West Bank and historic Palestine since Jesus was born in Bethlehem. They are recognised as the leaven that has made the loaf whole and relationships between the three faiths has been generally positive over the years only today the strains are showing as a direct result of the social  upheaval caused by the occupation. The Christian comunity is dwindling largely through outward migration as a consequence of the economic situation and the continuous Israeli occupation.The Christian community that remains still plays it part as the salt of the community offering a sign of diversity and pluralism essential for any future development. They are part of the transformation of the society and offer a necessary, different and sometimes contrasting view.

In general the Christian community promotes assertiveness and not aggressiveness in the face of the occupation. They seek justice but restorative and not punitive justice. It is clear that the occupation needs to be challenged by the international community through, for example, Boycott, Divestment and Sanction to help the State of Israel face the reality of the situation. The Truth as experienced by the Palestinian community should be spoken out clearly and loudly. Political progress in the UN and among other institutions needs to be made in recognising Palestine and its legitmate rights and there should be a greater insistence on the observance of UN resolutions. Negotiation is important but without compromising the dignity of those people who have been victims in this situation over many years since 1947. Institutions need to be built and established to give greater stability to the Palestinian and Israeli communities as they find themsellves today.

Above all we need to stop blaming each other but begin to accept our collective responsibilities for the situation that exists today.

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