How should Christians respond to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which, for decades, has been the focus of media reports on suicide bombings, wars, billions in military weaponry, and countless diplomatic efforts towards resolution by presidents and prime ministers?
Especially since the birth of the State of Israel in 1948, Christians have differed deeply in their understanding of what happened and is happening. Many thousands of Jewish survivors of Nazi concentration camps at last had found a home in the ancient land of their ancestors. Many Christians saw this as a fulfillment of biblical prophecies about a return from exile after almost 2000 years. But at what cost? Palestinian Christians, who had kept the faith since the Church’s beginnings, despite persecution and their minority status, viewed Israel’s creation as the great “catastrophe”.
Hundreds of thousands became refugees, losing homes and cherished lands. Is this the justice that the Bible teaches and that God demands, they ask? A group of outstanding Christian leaders met with representative messianic Jews and Christian Palestinians in Prague, the Czech Republic, to listen, to learn, and to pray. They asked probing questions about how the Scriptures were being interpreted and applied to the conflict. Then they endeavored to discern how their churches and institutions might respond with integrity and Christian sensitivity to the present situation. They felt called to support current efforts towards peace with justice, reconciliation, and grassroots ministries which contribute to those biblical values.
The “Prague Declaration” which emerged (and is found in this book) was the fruit that they unanimously affirmed. Numerous, provocative questions must be faced when confronting present realities. In what sense may the State of Israel be linked to references to Israel in the Bible? Messianic Jews (who believe in Jesus) and Palestinian Jews both have deep and emotional attachment to the Land, so is the Bible being responsibly interpreted when people make claims to “ownership” or “trusteeship”? How is “Christian Zionism” to be evaluated, especially in its use of Scripture? What position should Christians take on Jewish settlements and occupation of the West Bank, which others call Judea and Samaria? How should Christians bring their witness and support of just peacemaking today? In this volume, you’ll hear the voices of Jews and Arabs of faith as they passionately share their perspectives on what has happened and how we should understand the present situation in the light of Scripture. In the end, perhaps you, too, will want to be a signatory to the “Prague Declaration.”