4 Feb, 2016
By Ranjan Solomon, Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum
“Christ at the Checkpoint”, is an international conference which aims to challenge Evangelicals to take responsibility to help resolve the conflicts in Israel/Palestine by engaging with the teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of God. The conference moves into its fourth edition from March 7-10, 2016 in Bethlehem. It has adopted the theme “Christ at the Checkpoint IV – The Gospel in the Face of Religious Extremism”.
Organized by the Bethlehem Bible College, the conference recognizes that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict persists till today, 49 years into the occupation with far greater severity than any time before. Today, the religious dimension of the conflict is taking firm roots. The Jewish and Muslim communities, and to a lesser degree the Christian community in the West, have been radicalized. Evangelicals worldwide, therefore, feel the compulsion to speak to the issues that evolve there from with a sense of urgency.
The mission of “Christ at the Checkpoint” is to challenge Evangelicals to take responsibility to help resolve the conflicts in Israel/Palestine by engaging with the teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of God.
In the last few editions, the conference has created a huge impact on evangelical thinking and response to the occupation of Palestine. It has caused edginess among Israel authorities who have deemed the conference dangerous during its last edition. But the conference, itself is an honest attempt to “challenge Evangelicals to take responsibility to help resolve the conflicts in Israel/Palestine by engaging with the teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of God”.
The callous uses of expressions to describe suffering people often compound their problems. For example, to refer to ‘Post traumatic stress disorder’ to describe the conditions of people, mostly children, face in Gaza often ignores the fact that trauma is a permanent state of being for many Gazans given the decade-long siege and the three wars that Israel unleashed on the people of Gaza.
Commentaries on the issue of settlements are prompting action from quarters that, till now, unfairly turned a blind eye to the horrific spillover of the settlement enterprise. The US has now stepped in to challenge the impression of normalcy with which Israel has cloaked its settlement enterprise for decades. Its not the final break-through by any means. It is an important step, hopefully.
Mainstream journalists have also taken note of the occupation’s severity: According to one newspaper: “Over the last seventy years Israel has had many successes at the expense of the Palestinian people. But the one success that is the most remarkable is getting Palestinians and the world to buy into the notion that the occupation of Palestine began in 1967, and that therefore, the solution to the Palestinian question is what is known as the two-state Solution. This is a manipulation of reality that would make any magician proud”.