If you have been following the news this summer, you have probably heard about the conflict related to three Democratic members of Congress who were denied entry into Israel because of their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction Movement (BDS). The conflict between Israel and Palestine has gone from a peripheral topic that mostly activists talk about, to the center of discussion on the national stage. In many ways, the conversation revolving around Israel/Palestine mirrors our national discourse in general, two entrenched sides that do not really engage in dialogue. One is either pro-Israel or pro-Palestine.
Like most issues, it is not that simple. Before the conflict of the three members of Congress brought more attention to the issue, a group of us locally had been at work to create a program in which people on all sides of the issue could gather and have conversations about the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and we are calling this Courageous Conversations. The partners in this work are Beth Am Israel, Main Line Reform Temple, Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, Swarthmore Presbyterian Church and Wallingford Presbyterian Church.
Each faith community will invite 3 or 4 members of the congregation to join in the conversation which will begin on Monday, October 14th at 7 pm. Subsequent gatherings will be on November 18th, January 13th, and February 24th. Participants will be asked to read two short books, Blood Brothers by Father Elias Chacour and Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor by Yossi Klein Halevi. Father Chacour is a Palestinian leader in the Melkite Church, and Yossi is an American who moved to Israel in the 80’s. These writings are a treasure of experiences that provide a basic understanding of he viewpoints of Palestinians and Israelis.
If you would like to participate in this conversation, let me know!