THE Christian Church has a "tremendous potential" to bring
reconciliation in the Middle East, the Israeli Ambassador to the
UK, Daniel Taub, said after a fringe meeting of the General Synod
During the meeting, which was organised by the Council of
Christians and Jews with the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the
Ambassador delivered a biblical exposition of the dispute between
Jacob and Esau, giving pointers for modern-day conflict-resolution
theories, and applying them to the continuing conflict between
Israel and the Palestinians.
"Both parties, and the people who believe in peace on both
sides, seem to believe that what we need is not a marriage, but an
amicable divorce," he said. "That has to be the first stage. If we
can't live together as neighbours, trying to live together in the
same house is probably not going to succeed."
He said that the two governments could not deliver
reconciliation, merely the structure within which the two peoples
could work together. "I have a tremendous amount of confidence that
the business communities on both sides, that the people of faith on
both sides, that the artistic communities on both sides, the
sporting fraternities on both sides - they will be the ones that
try to fill [the structure] with meaning."
There are, he said, "parts of the Christian community in the UK
that have persuaded themselves that they are making a contribution
to resolving our conflict, and they are really not because . . .
they are not advancing understanding, but are diminishing
understanding in some ways".
People who seek to promote their own "solution" to the conflict
were "exporting their ignorance to our part of the world. We have
enough ignorance ourselves. . . We don't need you to export it." He
called on the Church to think about what "comparative advantage" it
could bring to the situation. "I think there's a tremendous role to
be played [by the Church] in creating the environment in which
non-threatening and deep interactions can take place.
"Many branches of the Church have all sorts of institutions
scattered throughout the Middle East - in Israel, in the West Bank,
and so on. Wouldn't it be wonderful if these became places of joint
study, of joint meeting, of projects between the two sides?
"The Church has a tremendous potential to be a help. . . It
first of all needs to listen very carefully to both sides to create
the trust that they're going to be listened to."