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Holy Land: no evading questions of justice

13 June 2014


From the Revd Tony Crowe

Sir, - In "A better way to argue over Israel" (Comment, 6 June), Rabbi Natan Levy encourages us to follow the machloket path in preference to vikuach, which empowers winners and disabuses losers. His article is a rabbinic way of using hermeneutics, which fails to address matters of justice in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Has he never heard of liberation theology?

In 1987, Professor Marc Ellis wrote Towards a Jewish Theology of Liberation, in which he argued that Israel would find true liberation only by giving justice to the Palestinians. Two years later, in his book Justice and Only Justice: A Palestinian theology of liberation, Canon Naim Ateek drew on the Hebrew Scriptures, where God is called the God of Justice, when he asked: "Why should the price of Jewish empowerment after the Holocaust be the oppression and misery of the Palestinians?"

Rabbi Levy mentions the Jewish theologian Mark Braverman, quoted in the first draft of the Church of Scotland's report of 2013. He has written a brilliant critique of Zionism in Fatal Embrace. It is only when justice is ultimately defined by both mercy and peace that there is hope in the resolution of any conflict.

4 South Lodge Close
Whitstable, Kent CT5 2AD

From Mr Martin Clay

Sir, - While his report acknowledges a difficult path ("Pope treads careful path through the Middle East", News, 30 May), I was more than a little disappointed that Gerald Butt aired the canard that the disappearance of Palestinian Christians is "more often than not in response to the growing influence of militant Islam", without any supporting factual information.

Palestinian Christians frequently assert the contrary, and that it is the impact of the occupation by Israel. I felt that a more nuanced or factually based observation was required.

Like another national newspaper, you also gave ample space for the Israeli Ambassador, Daniel Taub (Comment, 16 May), to exercise his considerable talents for pro-Israeli propaganda or hasbara. His comments ably airbrushed Palestine's Christians out of the Holy Land altogether.

It is commendable that you chose to feature the Pope's voluntary gesture of support for the Palestinian people, balancing his obligatory ones towards the State of Israel, and, as your Andrew Brown (Press, 30 May), pointed out, overshadowing them, restoring some necessary balance.

Paul Vallely commendably, too, noted (Comment, same issue) the "cat and mouse game" that the Palestinian graffiti artists won (by a "whisker"?) in repainting their slogans on a strategically placed location of the wall to which the Pope responded.

No one has asked how the Israelis were able to engage in this game, given that it required frequent access. The mechanism, in fact, is that this section is a metal gate, not concrete at all, and through it the Israeli army come at will into this location in Area A. (The photo in Andrew Brown's column shows an aperture in the gate by the Pope's head.) The Army slid the "wall" back to quell rioting youth from the Aida camp near by in March.

4 Great Bounds Drive
Tunbridge Wells TN4 0TP

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