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4.3 out of 5 stars
14
A Palestinian Christian Cry for Reconciliation
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on October 8, 2017
Excellent book by esteemed scholar.
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on December 3, 2014
This book considers the events leading to today’s present situation in Israel from the perspective of a Palestinian Christian. It reviews the history of substantial Palestinian actions directed toward a peaceful solution to the polity of Israel. The author proposes a theological groundwork for thinking toward peace, justice, and reconciliation between Palestinians and Jews.

The author makes a fervent case from Scripture for a liberation theology for Palestinians and proposes interesting insights to both Old Testament and New Testament passages that bring a distinctive lens to a theology of land. He argues that viewing ownership of land as the primary gift of God to the people of Israel is contradicted in much of Scripture and that a theology that focuses on land rather than God becomes divisive and non-inclusive and supports violent actions.
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on July 4, 2014
This book is a comprehensive overview that demythologizes the history of the conflict, develops a carefully constructed and Biblically based theological analysis, provides a hopeful vision of what a future might look like and ends, like the books title, with a passionate cry for reconciliation.. Mr. Ateek is uncompromising on his insistence on non- violent strategies and equally insistent that a functional justice must precede reconciliation. One can only hope the kind of two state solution he envisions is still possible.
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on December 6, 2014
This book opened my eyes to a perspective on the long-lingering conflict. Ateek offered concrete suggestions for peaceful actions that will lead to justice and reconciliation.
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on August 19, 2013
This book and his earlier work about a Palestinian theology of liberation is a detailed and well-thought out explication of a specifically Christian support for Palestinian resistance to the theft of Palestinian land from even before 1948 on down to today. This resistance must be non-violent. He stands in the tradition of Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. and others who insisted on justice not just for the benefit of victims but for the healing of the oppressor. I have met Naim Ateek and found him to be gently resolute and patient, looking for the long-haul peace will take.
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on April 15, 2010
The book is revealing truths that I saw with my own eyes. However, the author is better at describing the horrors.
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on March 12, 2015
Naim Attek, a Palestinian Anglican priest and an Arab citizen of Israel, is the founder, president and director of Sabeel, an ecumenical theological center in Jerusalem dedicated to work for the liberation of Palestinians. In this book he presents a vision for nonviolent Christian engagement in what is perhaps the most central conflict bottlenecking the cause of peace in the Middle East.

The Israeli occupation of Palestine has created a culture of violence that has dehumanized and oppressed both Israelis and Palestinians. The violent resistance to occupation on the part of some Palestinians has only made the situation more tragic and hopeless. Is there any legitimate hope that the twenty-first century will be any less violent than the blood soaked twentieth? Will public opinion at some point in the future put greater pressure on governments to limit their lust for war and to pursue peaceful means for the resolution of conflicts? Ateek's book is a plea for a nonviolent Palestinian intifada. Christians contribute to this peacemaking by returning to the revolutionary politics of Jesus, who taught that evil can be resisted without violence.

After a brief review of the history of the conflict, Ateek addresses the central section of his book (pages 51-152) to the exposition of a nonviolent Palestinian theology of liberation. He asserts that the conflict in the Middle East is rooted in disputes about land and exclusive theologies of land. Forms of Christian Zionism (e.g. politically engaged dispensationalism) reinforce this exclusivity. Ateek lifts up Jonah as the first Palestinian liberation theologian who condemns restrictive, nationalistic theologies. It is crucial to oppose expressions of Christian Zionism as an oppressive heresy exacerbating this conflict. Attek writes that "The God whom we have come to know in Jesus Christ is not the God of Armageddon but the God of Golgotha" (page 91).

Getting to the roots of the conflict and its development is foundational. Justice is the key component. The illegal Israeli occupation must come to an end and Palestinian violence must cease. International law must be implemented and Israel must recognize Palestinian rights and make restitution for its offenses. Ateek proposes a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a necessary step in creating accountability and reconciling the conflicting narratives.

Ateek's critique of Israeli policy is stringent and unrelenting, yet he does not spare his Palestinian kindred and the futility of resistance based upon anger, hatred, and violent resistance. Ateek is not content to concede political engagement to the "realists" nor to proclaim a passive gospel that remains disengaged from the conflict. He proposes that the only hope for the world (and for the renewal of the church) is to proclaim the nonviolent gospel of Jesus in the public square, and to live it out in the market place, the traffic intersections, the courtrooms, and the legislatures. It is morally and spiritually incumbent upon Christians and others around the world to join him in this mission.
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on February 13, 2009
Ateek's vision is three-fold: the unity of all Palestinian Christians, dialogue between Christian and Muslim Palestinians, and peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It comes from a priest who is an Arab citizen of Israel and whose calling and proximity to internal affairs lends Biblical and social insights into the problems facing all in the region, making this a fine pick for both religious and social issues libraries alike.
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on June 29, 2009
THE REV. Naim Ateek is often called the "Desmond Tutu of Palestine" for his leading role in promoting Palestinian nonviolent resistance. Rejecting the misuse of scriptures by Jewish and Christian Zionists, he has written a new book offering theological insights to biblical texts that help Palestinian Christians living under Israeli occupation. These original Christians find relevance and meaning in a biblical God who is sympathetic to their cause for justice, and in Jesus of Nazareth, who suffered and died under Roman occupation.

The book may be even more important for Christians in the West, however, who, having little knowledge of their own scriptures' central message against the domination and violence of empires or of Jesus and his radical, subversive teaching, repeat the mistakes of history in their allegiances to power. A Palestinian Christian Cry for Reconciliation presents a very human Jesus who will appeal even to non-religionists (if they are peaceful ones), while also honoring the Jesus Christ of the Christian faith. Ateek also reaches back to Old Testament figures to debunk problematic Christian and Jewish theologies and uncovers ancient biblical teachings relevant to today's Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Ateek's book belongs to the genre called liberation theology, conceived in early Latin American colonial days by missionaries who questioned the treatment of indigenous peoples by their European conquerors. Major changes in the Catholic church during Vatican II spurred a renewal in the church's mission to the poor and its reflection on how the Gospel addresses issues of justice and peace. Supported by research discovering a whole new historical/political dimension to the Bible, liberation theology flowered in the 1960s and '70s among church workers and the poor peasants and urban slum dwellers they served. By shedding new light on Jesus' teachings with new knowledge of the history and culture of the New Testament, liberation theology made faith relevant to real life, helped the faithful to better understand their own suffering, inspired them to work for change, and pointed to a greater truth with definite political implications.

Ateek applies his knowledge of history and culture to stories and parables so ostensibly simple they can be told to children. His chapter on the Book of Jonah, for example, demonstrates how literalism and the lack of historical knowledge robs great literature of its power and meaning. Jonah is known as the Old Testament's shortest book, a simple story about a man who disobeys God, is thrown into the sea and swallowed by a whale, learns an important lesson about obedience and forgiveness-and that's it. Or is it? Religious Jews hear the story of Jonah every year on Yom Kippur, their Day of Atonement. "Do Jews today understand the revolutionary nature of the story," Ateek asks, "or its implications for modern-day Israel and its relationship with Palestinians?" He goes on to explain how the writer of the Book of Jonah became "the first Palestinian liberation theologian, someone who has written the greatest book in the Old Testament."

An Anglican priest from Beisan in the Galilee, Ateek attended seminary in Berkeley during the 1960s, where he had ample opportunity to learn about the new liberation theology movement, which had spread to North America from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico and other very religious Third World countries. Ateek took this new theology back with him to Palestine and cultivated it in the Palestinian Christian community through church discussion groups, just as it had been developed in the Americas. He established the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, thereby accomplishing what the institutional churches have failed to do-taking the Gospel beyond scholarship to discipleship and witness, into the pews and streets, to checkpoints, demolished houses, refugee camps, barrier walls and political prisons.

This is what Jesus did, inspiring a nonviolent resistance movement to build the kingdom of God on earth. That "original flame" of the first two centuries, says Ateek, was lost when Christianity became part of the Roman Empire. But the flame has been lit again, and may it set the world on fire.

(This review was first published in The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May 2009.)
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on February 20, 2009
Twenty years in the writing, Canon Naim Ateek's long awaited sequel to Justice only Justice, may prove to be the most important work ever written by a Palestinian theologian.
For those who know and respect Canon Ateek and the reconciliation work of the Sabeel Liberation Theology Centre in Jerusalem, the title says it all: A Palestinian Christian Cry for Reconciliation. He is unwavering in his conviction that "Our God-given mandate is to see that an enduring peace is achieved in the Middle East" (p. xiii). The book explains the reasons for the struggle for justice; the tortuously slow progress made in the last twenty years; why successive peace agreements have failed; and why reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis is as elusive today as it was in 1948 or 1967. While brutally realistic, it is nevertheless a hopeful book, calling for justice for Palestinians, peace for Israelis and reconciliation for both.
The book has three parts. The first part is entitled, "Recapping History" and traces the birth of Sabeel, Canon Ateek's own personal story, the generous offer of the Palestinians to share the land in a "two state solution" and the consistent refusal of Israel to abide by international law which has led to both political extremism and the breeding of violence. There is an extended exposition of the parable of the unjust judge (Luke 18) and some of Jesus' harshest words against those who deprive others of justice (Matthew 23:25-26). With great care, Canon Ateek explains why successive peace negotiations failed because they failed to address the root cause of the conflict - Israel's illegal occupation, annexation and colonisation of the West Bank. One of the most helpful sections refutes Zionist propaganda about the "generous offer" and shows how Palestinians have consistently been willing to compromise land for peace but to no avail.
The second part addresses Palestinian Liberation Theology in the service on nonviolence and peace. Here Canon Ateek examines the place of "Land" in Scripture and the centrality of the biblical demand for justice. He exposes the deficiencies and inherent racism of Zionist theology. There follows an examination of the theology and politics of Christian Zionism and he contrasts this with the non-violent way of the cross of Jesus. In successive chapters, Canon Ateek compares the strategies and paradigms of contemporary, historical and biblical figures such as Saddam Hussein, Jonah, Samson, Daniel and Judah Maccabeus.
The third and final part is appropriately entitled "The Peace we Dream of". With sensitivity and compassion, Canon Ateek summarises Israel's predicament - how to remain a Jewish State committed to ethnic nationalism without rightly being compared to apartheid South Africa. He identifies the deficiencies of the "Two State Solution" and need for Israelis and Palestinians to move from justice to forgiveness and reconciliation.
The foreword is written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and there are four appendixes dealing with the Zionist plan for Palestine from 1919, the infamous Balfour Declaration, Palestinian loss of land from 1946-2005, and the West Bank Barrier route as of June 2007.
Consistently throughout the book, Canon Ateek, seeks faith based solutions based on biblical models and scriptural injunctions "to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God". Canon Ateek shows compellingly that one cannot divorce religion from politics. Both are he insists "deeply intertwined" He insists "Religion can be a source of tremendous spiritual strength, but religion, when misused and translated into action by people of power, can also become a deadly weapon." (p. xiv).
It is clear why to many Zionists, Canon Ateek and other Palestinians who have disavowed violence as a means of achieving independence, are a greater threat than the terrorists. (see Camera and CUFI for examples)
In this vitally important book, Canon Ateek identifies the major principles or building blocks upon which a just and lasting peace can and must be built. Canon Ateek strikes at the heart of the conflict and fearlessly addresses the major obstacles to peace, not least the unconditional support successive US administrations have afforded Israel. Canon Ateek warns prophetically, "Only when justice is done and Palestinians can celebrate their own independence will a comprehensive peace be felt throughout the land. As long as one side celebrates while the other mourns, no authentic celebration or peace is possible." As Jesus says, "Now that you know these things you will be blessed if you do them."
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