Passover and Good Friday

This year Passover fell on Good Friday.

The question remains for both Jews and Christians how do we internalize and make meaningful the feast of liberation from bondage. How do serious Jews in Israel dare celebrate Pesach and turn away from Palestinian oppression, the latest victims of Pharaoh and state violence all within shouting distance? Passover is the duty to remember, to be present now in God’s saving activity—let the oppressed go free!

How do Christians celebrate the Paschal Mystery and tolerate the conditions of our First Nations and remain indifferent to the rape of the planet? How do we ignore the insistent call for solidarity from Israel’s Christians (Kairos Palestine).How do we vote Trump and Ford? How do worshipping communities escape from  “real presence”?

Living under turbocapitalism, the speed of modern life, the triumph of individualism and denial of community and the common good, we become rootless and uncomprehending of the gale force winds that buffet us on a daily basis. Biblical religion is meant to root us, to make us present not absent to human suffering.

Decades ago Regis Duffy ofm asked the question, why was there so much sacrament and so little commitment to justice and peace (The kingdom). Why do symbols become cliches?

The prophets of Israel like Jesus and Isaiah were tethered to a vision called “malkuth shamayim” or God’s rule.they were unshakeable in this vision, the kingdom of God, the holy reign of justice and peace “on earth” as it is in heaven.”

But Jesus warned that “not everyone who says Abba gets into the kingdom but he or she who does the will of God” (Matt.7:21). and herein lies the mystery that those not overtly religious often incarnate this same “malkuth shamayim.”in more faithful ways. Such a one is Hagai El Ad, the executive director of  B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights group. the name is an allusion to Genesis 1:27: “And God created humankind in His image. In the image of God did He create them.” The name expresses the Jewish and universal moral edict to respect and uphold the human rights of all people.

Take this as a Passover and Easter gift from Hagai El-ad

The world had decades to stop annexation. Just ask Palestinians

Partially annexed or temporarily occupied, Palestinians living under Israel’s thumb do not need legal expertise or international recognition to realize how cheap their lives are to their oppressor.

On the eve of Israel’s recent elections, Prime Minister Netanyahu made a campaign promise to annex parts of the West Bank, which was followed by a flood of impassioned international appeals. One cannot help but wonder about the gap between all the fuss about a potential future statement on de jure annexation and decades of inaction in response to unilateral Israeli steps, which have already established a reality of de facto annexation.

Formal annexation of parts of the West Bank will not suddenly lay bare Israel’s genuine long-term intentions regarding all the area west of the Jordan River. These objectives have already been clearly spelled out in action over decades. Nor will it usher in a new era of disenfranchising Palestinians, for they have long been living without political rights, ruled by the arbitrary decisions made by Israelis.

“America must stop Binyamin Netanyahu from annexing Palestinian land,” said The Economist, for “[s]ome of his election pledges would kill the chance of a two-state solution.” Mainstream Jewish groups implored President Trump to restrain the prime minister, concerned that annexation might “galvanize efforts such as the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement that are intended to isolate and delegitimize Israel.” Even AIPAC-affiliated Democrats warned Netanyahu not to do it, while invoking tired clichés such as “the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

Meanwhile, in a speech before the European Parliament, the EU’s Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said that “in fact, the two-state solution is not only fading away. It is being dismantled piece by piece.”

Had they all failed to notice that thanks to their longstanding inaction, they were pleading for a future that has already passed?For decades on end, it was the international community that did not “miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity” to make an actual difference, offering words but no action through years of feigned concern. Now, once again, concern is being expressed over “preserving the eventual possibility of a two-state solution.” It is difficult to imagine framing the matter in weaker, vaguer, or more ambiguous terms.

The international community was willing to “express concern” yet was unwilling to do almost anything to actually “preserve the possibility,” let alone realize it. All this time, with so many settlements built (over 250) and settlers in the occupied territories (over 600,000). So many Palestinians killed, maimed or injured – and the only response this merited is one of “concern?”

Concern won’t bring back the dead, nor will it put an end to the endless humiliations Palestinians must endure. Concern won’t bring back the lost years of unrealized human talent and potential, locked behind the bars of the prison that is the Gaza Strip and the fragmented West Bank. Nor will it alleviate the fear of a life exposed — always exposed — to Israeli state violence.

How many more Palestinians must be killed or wounded, how many more Palestinian homes must be bulldozed before the realization sinks in that words not backed by actions do no more than hint to Israel that it may carry on?

That question has certainly been answered and delivered to the Palestinians in the form of Israeli bulldozers, and to Israelis in the form of continued international inaction.

Palestinians are a people deserving of rights, not inanimate objects to be shuffled about inside their bantustans while Israel boasts of being a “Jewish and democratic state.” A sincere commitment to universally enshrined values would have already brought about action in the face of exhaustively documented, endless human rights violations.

Global public opinion will finally have a chance to make a judgment. Are you content with your government’s cozy relationship with this Israeli regime? Or does your government’s complicity in this injustice make your stomach turn?

Regardless of possible announcements of annexation, Israel’s actions to date are what we need to focus on. These, in and of themselves, should be the basis for urgent global action. Such action need not wait for any possible annexation proclamation. With or without such an announcement, millions of Palestinians living under the current reality are personally familiar with the brutality of their daily lives. Partially annexed or “temporarily” occupied, Palestinians living under Israel’s thumb do not need legal expertise to realize how cheap their lives are to their oppressor.

Stop feigning concern. For humanity’s sake, make their lives matter.