A NEW initiative, “Invest in Peace”, launched by the Board of Deputies and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI), is an opportunity for Christians and Jews to “export peace rather than importing the conflict” between Israel and Palestine, the Board of Deputies has said.
The first series of events took place last week. Speakers from the Parents Circle-Families Forum, who have lost children in the conflict, addressed audiences hosted by Hinde Street Methodist Church, in London, and two synagogues. Robi Damelin’s son, David, was shot by a Palestinian sniper while serving in the Israeli army; Bassam Aramin’s ten-year-old daughter, Abir, was killed by an Israeli soldier.
The deputy general secretary of CTBI, the Revd Peter Colwell, said that the approach “aims to build bridges and create a sense of hope”.
Anthony Silkoff, the Board’s interfaith and social-action officer, said on Monday that both partners in the initiative had acknowledged that “the interfaith conversation between Christians and Jews is often dominated by Israel and Palestine; but also they tend to be quite negative ones.”
One response was to “work on the things you agree with, and we do that extensively”. The other was to “tackle the elephant in the room head on, to show that Christians and Jews can have conversations about Israel and Palestine and they can be constructive and helpful. The core principle of this project is: we do not want to import this foreign conflict into this country, but export peace.”
He went on: “It is not enough to just be pro-Israel or pro-Palestine: you have to be pro-peace. I do not think there was anyone in the room who was not convinced of that.”
It was “particularly powerful and poignant”, he said, to have one of the events hosted by Hinde Street Methodist Church, given that the Board had last year expressed concern about an exhibition hosted there, featuring a replica checkpoint. The Board had been “very impressed” by the church’s response, and hosting the event was one outcome of this conversation.
Further events are planned for the autumn; for more information, contact the Board of Deputies, at www.bod.org.uk.