(page 2 of 4)
The wall in Bethlehem is part of a separation barrier that Israel has built since 2002 in response to a wave of Palestinian attacks. Palestinians point to its many departures from Israel’s pre-1967 border to loop deep into the West Bank, which they say amounts to a brazen land grab.
On the day the Forward visited the conference, there was no discussion of Islamic threats to Israel, although other reports quoted Ron Cantor of Messiah’s Mandate who said “no terror, no wall.”
Christ at the Checkpoint is both the evidence of a growing skepticism among young Christians toward this Israeli policy, and a vector for its growth.
The meeting in Bethlehem has raised hackles within Israel’s government. Earlier, Yigal Palmor, the chief press officer for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was quoted denouncing the conference as “an unacceptable and shameful act.”
“Using religion for the purpose of incitement in the service of political interests stains the person who does it with a stain of indelible infamy,” Palmor was quoted in the English language publication Israel Today.
America’s evangelical leadership has a long history of staunch support for Israel. And some of its major leaders directly oppose the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, held as gospel by Washington, Jerusalem and mainstream American Jewish leaders.
But Ennis – and many other Christ at the Checkpoint attendees – took pains to say she was simply trying to get a more evenhanded view and to open a discussion in her church.
“There’s a good portion of our clergy and elders who still don’t think we should partner with certain [Palestinian] groups here to aid in the conflict,” she said. “We need to help people specifically, and not just by supporting armies, as we have traditionally been supporting the U.S. and the Israeli army.”