More than 100 people at the Methodist Church Conference last night heard two peace activists – one Israeli and one Palestinian – speak about their hopes for reconciliation.
Sana Knaneh, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and Sivan Atzmon, an Israeli Jew, were speaking at ‘Invest in Peace’, a joint initiative between the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, which invites Christians and Jews to support Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding.
At the Methodist Conference fringe event at Nottingham University, which was chaired by Sharon Booth of Solutions Not Sides, Sana explained: “With the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in tatters, now is a critical time for British Jews and Christians to raise their voices, and make sure that the UK Government plays its part in pushing for meaningful negotiations. We have been at war for more than 70 years, it’s time to find a solution.”
Sivan said: “It is the people who are urgently looking for change, both Palestinians and Israelis. These are the people for whom we are here today. We have a lot to gain and way too much to lose.”
Board of Deputies Vice-President Edwin Shuker said: “We often find faith communities at loggerheads on the Middle East and taking stances which cause division. This is particularly true for Methodist and Jewish communities, and so it was really refreshing and encouraging that such a large audience from Methodist Conference turned out to support this Invest in Peace event. This is interfaith work at its most meaningful, tackling difficult issues positively and head on.”
The Revd Peter Colwell, Deputy General Secretary of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland said: “Telling our stories together is important to building peace and reconciliation amidst deep division. Jews and Christians urgently need to hear these stories from people in Israel and Palestine. We must not let the conflict there become merely our ‘righteous cause’, instead it must urge us to respond to the real pain, fear and suffering that is experienced all those caught up in the conflict.”
The event at Methodist Conference was supported by Rabbi Tanya Sakhnovich of Nottingham Liberal Synagogue, and Revd Bruce Thompson, of Methodist Friends of Judaism.