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‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ conference brings Evangelical leaders to Bethlehem

by on February 27, 2012 6

From March 5 – 9, 2012 the Bethlehem Bible College will be hosting it’s second “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference at the Intercontinental Hotel in Bethlehem. The conference will bring Christians from around the world to Bethlehem to connect with Palestinian Christians and to better understand the daily situation they are living under and how certain Christian theological stances help to perpetuate those conditions.

Many times Evangelical Christians, especially those from the United States never get off the “tourist trail” and have the opportunity to meet with Palestinians and to hear their stories. Daily trips to places like the Bethlehem Checkpoint, Hebron, and the Tent of Nations will give participants the opportunity to see areas most affected by the occupation.

The aim of “Christ at the Checkpoint” is to provide an opportunity for evangelical Christians who take the Bible seriously to prayerfully seek a proper awareness of issues of peace, justice, and reconciliation. Some of the conference goals are stated as:

1. Empower and encourage the Palestinian church.

2. Expose the realities of the injustices in the Palestinian Territories and create awareness of the obstacles to reconciliation and peace.

3. Create a platform for serious engagement with Christian Zionism and an open forum for ongoing dialogue between all positions within the Evangelical theological spectrum.

4. Motivate participants to become advocates for the reconciliation work of the church in Palestine/Israel and its ramifications for the Middle East and the world.

Speakers include Tony Campolo of Eastern University, Shane Claiborne of “The Simple Way”, Lynne Hybels of Willow Creek Church, Sami Awad of Holy Land Trust, journalist Ben White and many local pastors and leaders from the Bethlehem community. A full list of speakers can be found here.

This conference has already received a lot of attention from Christian and Jewish Zionist groups trying to cast it as “delegitimizing Israel”. Charges not often thrown at Evangelical Christians.

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With almost universal agreement (except for the Christian supporters of Zionism), the international community has come to realise that the continued construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is the real impediment to justice and peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Christian Zionists need to understand that the continued support (particularly the financial support) of the illegal settlements in the occupied territories constitutes a flagrant breach of God’s command that we be peace makers, not just peace lovers. The following post was published by  Philip Weiss on the Mondoweiss website on October 14th 2011.

Fat lady sings — Israel announces new E J’lem neighborhod called Givat Hamatos

by Philip Weiss on October 14, 2011

Big news. Netanyahu claims yet another spoil from his political victory over Obama: Israel has approved another new settlement in occupied East Jerusalem, a new neighborhood of 2600 homes.

“Disastrous new plan to build new settlement in southeast Jerusalem is potential killer of peace agreement,” Ori Nir of Peace Now tweeted yesterday. Peace Now, which broke word of the Hebrew announcement of the deal, calls the plan, “a game changer that significantly changes the possible border between Israel and Palestine.”

The neighbourhood is called Givat Hamatos and will be situated in the chink of land between Gilo and Har Homa above Bethlehem.

From the NYT report on the announcement:

Reacting to the news, the chief Palestinian Authority negotiator, Saeb Erekat, who was in Paris with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying it proved “the Israeli government wants to destroy the peace process and the two-state solution.”

From the Peace Now report on the new settlement:

Unlike recent plans that caused controversy in Gilo and Pisgat Ze’ev which expanded the footprint of existing neighborhoods, the new plan creates an entirely new footprint of a new Israeli neighborhood in East Jerusalem…Parts of the plan for Palestinian construction? -there will probably be those in the Israeli government who will argue that the new neighborhood will not necessarily be only for Jews. Similar protestations were voiced in defense of the construction of the settlement of Har Homa, and eventually there wasn’t even one unit built for Palestinians in Har Homa.

 

Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict

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