many levels suffered by the Palestinian people. Why wasn’t I more aware and concerned before this point, a mere five years ago? There are many reasons (and non-reasons); and that is where PIEN comes in.
Those in Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network perhaps see their role as being to wake people up. Put more formally (and see our website for our aims), we are working to make people in general in Australia and more specifically people within our churches, aware of the need for peace with justice in that troubled land. A voice from the churches and to the churches.
To misquote a friend speaking of a different ‘rumour’, I like to see our mission also as ‘keeping the rumour of Palestine alive’. How political should a theology be? As ‘political’ as it needs to be. The significance of Palestinian theology is that it brings our view of God into conversation with the realpolitik of what is happening in Palestine and Israel.
Also part of the role of PIEN is to be in solidarity with Palestinian Christians. The Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre for is holding its 10th International Conference in Bethlehem in March and Fred (Rainger) and I are attending. From moments of worship at the Sea of Galilee to confronting the various brands of religious extremism, participants from around the world will stand together.
Very significant for me also was going on the APAN study tour in 2015. The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network runs these tours twice a year and if anyone needs a little ‘push’ to go to Palestine, treat this as such!
As PIEN in our new incorporated status heads into 2017 what else are we hoping for? We will together, and members individually, work within our churches and communities to bring this message of God’s concern for justice in Palestine and Israel. This may involve information workshops (Goulburn 31st March); speaking at synods; planning for protest (Netanyahu coming to Australia in February); film showings (And the Stones Cry Out coming soon); liaising with tour companies to be wider in their terminology and itineraries as they take groups to ‘Israel’; and promoting Boycotts, Divestments, Sanctions where applicable (Paypal, please work to extend your services to Palestinian businesses).
And as a final word, we do not forget either the many Palestinians outside Palestine and Israel in refugee camps. The APAN tour will take you to one in Lebanon.
Thank you to Tim Budge, our Executive Officer, to the PIEN committee and to all you readers of Update.