(11/8/08) — As Israel commemorates 60 years of independence, Palestinians will view those 60 years as the “Nakba,” or “Catastrophe.” To examine the impact of the events during 1948 as they affect current conditions in the Holy Land, Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, a Global Ministries partner, is conducting its 7th international conference Nov. 12-19 in Nazareth and Jerusalem.
Sabeel is an ecumenical grassroots liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians. The theme of this year’s conference is “Beyond Remembrance.”
Activists, theologians, academics, and members of numerous faith denominations from around the world will gather for lectures, workshops, panel discussions, Bible studies and worship services. They will examine the impact of identity, memory and narrative based on events of 1948 while searching for lasting peace and justice in the Middle East.
Conference planners will seek to help create a path from remembrance to justice and mercy and to challenge Christians and the larger community to come to terms with 1948. Planners would like participants to gain a deeper understanding of the Palestinian Christian community inside the state of Israel and work toward finding a just solution to the refugee issues.
Conference participants will experience:
• Four nights in Nazareth, which will include visits with members of local Christian communities and visits to villages that were destroyed in 1948;
• Four nights in Jerusalem, with travel to Jaffa, Ramle and Lidda;
• Lectures, discussions, workshops and cultural events focusing on the past 60 years and the future for Christians living in both Palestine and Israel;
• Optional pre-conference trips to holy sites in the Galilee;
• Optional post-conference travel to understand the occupation, including trips to holy sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Conference participants will also focus on the continuing refugee crisis that finds its roots in the Nakba, and will hear directly from some refugees and discuss options.
Questions that will be raised during the conference, according to planners, include:
• What happened in 1948, and what did the Nakba mean for Palestinians?
• How have the events of 1948 shaped the identities of modern Palestinians and Israelis, and among Christians living in Palestine and Israel?
• Why has the refugee crisis remained unresolved for 60 years, and what can churches and the international community do to promote a just resolution?
• How will the events of 1948 continue to affect the search for a just peace in Palestine and Israel?
• What do the events of 1948 reveal about injustice both within Israel and of the occupation?
• How can those who seek justice move beyond memory to justice and reconciliation?
Sabeel promotes international awareness concerning the presence, identity and witness of Palestinian Christians and their current concerns. It encourages individuals and groups around the globe to work for a comprehensive, just and durable peace that is empowered by prayer and action and informed by truth.