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Easter Greetings from Tantur
As our communities of faith celebrate Passover and Easter this year, we find ourselves at a moment of great tension in this Holy Land. As the American government prepares officially to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Christian Zionists in the U.S. see God at work in a "Cyrus redivivus," a.k.a. Donald Trump; religious nationalists among Israelis have felt emboldened to push for expansion of settlements or even outright annexation of large segments of the West Bank; and Palestinians, whether Muslim or Christian, have despaired of ever becoming "a free people in our own land," leading to the protests and violence that we've seen unfold in Gaza and some parts of the West Bank in recent days.
As an ecumenical institute committed to bringing people of faith together to engage in honest dialogue about the differences, whether theological, philosophical or political, that exist between them, we at Tantur feel called to remind the "peoples of the Book," parties to the present conflict in this Holy Land, that the prophet Amos, honored by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, was forceful in his warning that a nation's survival is dependent on its ability to establish justice for all its inhabitants. One after the other, the rulers the prophet Amos castigated--in Damascus, Gaza, and Tyre; in Edom, Ammon, Moab, Israel and Judah--passed from the political stage, but not before their ambitions brought enormous suffering upon the peoples they ruled.
The actors may have changed since the eighth century B.C.E., but the realities decried by the prophet have not. In these days of Passover and Easter we call upon people of faith to join together in prayer to the one God of every race and nation, as well as in action to do what we can to break through to the hearts of our political leaders and of our co-citizens, that we might be drawn beyond "zero-sum" calculations of interest into "cooperative games" in which all sides can discern a "win," and "justice may [indeed] flow down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream" (Amos 5.24).
Amen. Chag sameach. Happy Easter.