Archbishop Murray Chatlain of Keewatin-Le Pas in Manitoba is one of many Canadian Church leaders who has made laudable efforts to get Canadians to recognize the pain and suffering imposed on indigenous Canadians as a result of our colonial past. It is time for the Catholic Church and other Canadian Churches to begin to address Canada’s role with respect to another injustice – one which continues to cause pain and suffering for millions of Palestinians. Read more…
Appeal to Canadian faith leaders – Bishops, Priests, Ministers, Imams and Rabbis
As news of the loss of life in Israel/Palestine increases, I am writing to encourage faith leaders of all denominations in Canada, to use the occasion of Nakba Day, May 15th, to address the root causes of anger and frustration in Israel/Palestine and reflect on Canada’s role in it.
In 1947, Canada joined other western countries in supporting the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine without due regard for the consequences for those already living there. And we later stood by as hundreds of thousands of simple farmers were driven out because they were not Jewish. Palestinians call it the “Nakba” – the “disaster”. This Saturday May 15th is “Nakba Day”. Whether their religious service is on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, this weekend would be an appropriate moment for faith leaders to begin a thoughtful discussion with their parishioners on Canada’s role in this tragedy and what could be done about it.
Many Canadians look to their church or religious leaders for moral guidance and comfort. It demands thoughtful consideration of issues and perspectives in light of the principles that animate their faith. It often also requires courage and determination.
The slow and difficult path through which Canadian churches came to eventually embrace “Truth and Reconciliation” with our indigenous peoples is a good example. Thanks to the courageous efforts of determined and principled faith leaders, many Canadians have come to accept the unpleasant truth of what European colonists did to indigenous peoples.
As tensions flare once again in Jerusalem, Gaza and elsewhere in Israel/Palestine, it is time for those whose calling and responsibility is to provide moral guidance to Canadians, to reflect on that issue as well.
It is not enough to call for a reduction in violence. While that is good, it doesn’t address the underlying causes. Canadian faith leaders could play an important role by inviting their own parishioners to start a serious reflection on where justice and compassion lie in this issue.
Embracing and acknowledging Canada’s role in creating the situation in Israel/Palestine will require courage and determination. Canada supported the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine in 1947 without regard for the potential consequences for its non Jewish indigenous inhabitants, who were subsequently driven out.
At its root, this is not a war between Israel and Hamas. Those Hamas rockets are a sign of defiance, impotence and decades- long frustration.
Let us not be distracted by the different forms that resistance takes. Let us focus instead on the oppression that is the cause of the resistance.
The underlying issue is that Palestinians (including Christian Palestinians) were driven out of their homes in 1947/48, with the support of Western nations, including Canada. Since then millions of Palestinians have been made refugees, others live under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza and nearly two million more live inside Israel as citizens with only partial rights. There will never be peace until these issues are addressed.
The Nakba continues
The 73 year history of oppression and expulsion continues today, as Palestinians in Jerusalem (both Muslim and Christian) are ground down by the ongoing Israeli policy of the “Judaization of Jerusalem”, whose objective is to turn that historically multi-cultural and multi-religious city into a Jewish one and to transform a predominantly Muslim and Christian country into a Jewish State.
The most recent flashpoint was ignited last week as Israeli settlers backed by the Israeli police and military, moved to expropriate and expel Palestinians from neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem where they have lived in for generations. When Palestinians demonstrated in opposition, including at their Mosque, they were violently attacked by Israeli police.
It is understandable that church leaders are hesitant to expose themselves or their organizations to accusations of anti-Semitism. No one likes being accused of anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is ugly and deserves to be resolutely combated. But it is unfair and totally unjustified to accuse of anti-Semitism those who are honestly pursuing freedom, equality and justice for everyone.
On Nakba Day, Canada Talks Israel Palestine calls on faith leaders in Canada to begin a conversation about truth and reconciliation in Israel/Palestine.
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.
Want to learn more about us? Go to http://www.ottawaforumip.org.