by Walter Brueggemann, Westminster John Knox Press, 2015.
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If there’s one thing we learn from Brueggemann about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in this book, it’s that there’s no black and white. The complex geographical history mixed with biblically-infused politics makes for a hot bed of confusion.
Brueggemann cautions us to not simply see the nation-state of Israel as the Israel we read about in Scripture. Yet at the same time, he doesn’t deny the “chosenness” of Israel. He does a great job of raising important questions, and does his best to answer them through his lens of faith and biblical interpretation.
By digging deep into Scripture to find the biblical basis for the promises of land possession and being a chosen people, Brueggemann offers a way to view the the conflict while challenging us to take both Zionism and the injustices done to Palestinians seriously.
Brueggemann clearly has space for Israel, but he’s not giving them a blank cheque (as other countries have done). Israel today is a powerful nation-state that has the political and military power to change the situation, if only they had the will. The Palestinians, not the Israelis, are the marginalized at this point in the conflict.
Brueggemann doesn’t see a dual-state solution ever working, but calls for one nation where both Israelis and Palestinians can work together to protect everyone’s human rights. Nothing is impossible, and Brueggemann writes to make us believe it.
“…peace will come only with the legitimation of the political reality of both Israelis and Palestinians.” (p.xv)
“People of faith can read the Bible so that almost any perspective on a current issue will find some support in the Bible.” (p.1)
“The Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot be resolved until the human rights of the other are recognized and guaranteed.” (p.13)
“It would seem that in every claim of choseness - from Israel, the United States, the church - the chosen must choose beyond their chosenness. This is difficult, for it is against the grain of entitlement and assurance. But unless difficult choices are made, the present violence can only hold out a future of perpetual violence.” (p.26)
“…because the state of Israel, perhaps of necessity, has opted to be a military power engaged in power politics along with the other nation-states of the world, it cannot at the same time appeal to an old faith tradition in a persuasive way. Thus, the state of Israel can, like any nation-state, make its legitimate political claims and insist on legitimate security. But appeal to the ancient faith traditions about land promise in order to justify its claims carries little conviction except for those who innocently and uncritically accept the authority of that ancient story.” (p.38)
“…there is a growing conviction that it is possible (and necessary) to be critical of Israeli policy without being labeled and dismissed as anti-Jewish or anti-semitic.” (p.52)