The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

How Its Complexities Obstruct Jewish-Christian Understanding

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 11:30 am – 12:45 pm
Bellarmine Hall – Room 003


In December 2009, a group of about fifteen Palestinian Christians issued a statement called: “Kairos Palestine — A Moment of Truth: A word of faith, hope and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering.” It was addressed to Palestinian churches and leaders, to “Palestinian society and to the Israeli society, to the international community, and to our Christian brothers and sisters in churches around the world.” Kairos Palestine declared that “the military occupation of our land is a sin against God and humanity,” saw dialogue among Christians, Jews, and Muslims as a “sign of hope,” called for “a system of economic sanctions and boycott to be applied against Israel,” and insisted that the “cycle of violence” could be broken only “through our love, [which] will overcome injustices and establish foundations for a new society both for us and for our opponents.”

Reactions to the statement were predictable: to generalize (and there are always exceptions), evangelical Christian and mainstream Jewish voices criticized or dismissed it while mainline Protestant and left-wing Jewish voices embraced or grappled with it.  The International Council of Christians and Jews became alarmed at a perceived unprecedented amount polarization and polemic erupting in Christian-Jewish dialogues. It, in turn, issued in July 2010 a “plea to all who seek interreligious understanding” entitled, “Let Us Have Mercy upon Words.”

The Panel

The Institute for Jewish-Christian Relations has organized this panel to acquaint the SJU community with some of these issues.  It will point to some of the historical and political complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the impact of that conflict on the efforts of Jews and Christians around the world to achieve mutual understanding, and suggest factors that must be considered if peace is to come to this seemingly intractable and dire situation.   

Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn is the North American Director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation, New York and Israel.



 Rev. Dr. Peter Pettit is Director of the Institute for Christian-Jewish Understanding at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.



Dr. Philip A. Cunningham is Director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of SJU.