Readers write: February 23, 2024

February 22, 2024 | Opinion | Volume 28 Issue 4
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

Review the confession of faith
In response to “Jewish perspectives” (January 26), I note that Article 22 of the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective states:

“We believe that peace is the will of God. God created the world in peace, and God’s peace is most fully revealed in Jesus Christ, who is our peace and the peace of the whole world. Led by the Holy Spirit, we follow Christ in the way of peace, doing justice, bringing reconciliation, and practicing nonresistance even in the face of violence and warfare.”

Yet you devote two pages to allow representatives of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) to push grotesque claims that mosques, schools and hospitals are “legitimate targets” for the Israeli military, without question or pushback, despite those sites being protected under international humanitarian law.

They don’t mention the churches in Gaza that have been bombed while housing refugees. Perhaps you could have asked whether they would consider these legitimate targets as well.

In a December 15, 2023, column in the Jerusalem Post, David Weinberg, who serves as director of CIJA’s Israel office, wrote that wrote that Israel’s efforts require “application of maximum, maximum, maximum military force against Hamas in every hideaway corner and under every school, mosque and UNRWA facility in which Hamas terrorists are rottenly taking sanctuary. . . . With cold, calculated, crushing military force. With all tools at Israel’s disposal.”

That you platform CIJA uncritically speaks to your lack of commitment to Article 22. You owe your readers better than to publish excuses and justifications for war crimes.
—Joel MacDonald, Regina, Saskatchewan

Additional voices for peace
Following a recent passionate post-sermon discussion concerning the current conflict in Israel and Palestine, a group of us at Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Fellowship in Vancouver want to join others who have written letters to the editor of Canadian Mennonite expressing their concern that, as Anabaptists and people of peace, we need to voice our profound dismay with the incredible violence, deaths, attacks and military escalation in Palestine and Israel and beyond.

To be silent or pretend ignorance, as many Christians did during the Holocaust, is not an option. Fortunately, with our history as a peace church, there are many Anabaptist resources available to assist us in responding. These include the new group Mennonite Action.
Veronica Dyck, Frieda Epp, Lois Funk, Stephanie Jeong, Janice Kreider, Reg Quiring, Walter Quiring, Paul Thiessen, Janet Boldt, Edward Epp, Cynthia Friesen, Angela Goddard, Alice Klassen, J. Evan Kreider, Henry Neufeld, Tena Neufeld, Andre Pekovich, Rosie Perera, Deberah Shears, Elvira Teichroeb and Chan Yang

Online Comments 

New vision needed
Thanks for this article (“A prayer for impossible peace,” January 26), and the other articles trying to help Mennonites learn.

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) moved directly from working with the Nazi regime in the 1940s to supporting Palestinians.

While it is essential for us to continue advocacy in support of Palestinian lives and land, we cannot do that when we don’t see how antisemitism has tainted Mennonite peace witness in the region for 70 years.

When we ignore, erase or belittle Jewish trauma and safety, this is hateful and perpetuates the cycle of violence, just as it is hateful when Israelis belittle Palestinian trauma and safety.

Mennonite institutions have funded hundreds of church leaders to take one-sided delegations to Palestine. These tours erase Jewish voices and fail to offer a critical role in how Palestinian leaders have fueled the cycle of violence and contributed to the violence. This does not aid the struggle for a just peace.

The Mennonite Church and MCC need a new vision for supporting the dignity and humanity of all people in the region.
Lisa Schirch 

The land must be shared 
Richard Marceau speaks of the “ancestral lands of the Jewish people,” and Gustavo Zentner describes the “Jewish people’s indigenous connections to the land of Israel” (“Jewish perspectives,” January 26). Canadians might well understand the terms “ancestral lands” and “indigenous connections” as they apply to Indigenous peoples here, and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs messaging is likely crafted with that in mind.

Indigenous peoples were here for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. But in what is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Jewish people did not have the land to themselves.

In the book Whose Land is Palestine? a Mennonite historian wrote that no one group can claim any part of that land based on unbroken habitation. He listed 30 “peoples or powers” who occupied and controlled Palestine between 3,000 BC and 1970.

It is worth recalling that when the state of Israel was proclaimed in 1948, more than 700,000 Palestinians were forced to flee. That land had been “ancestral” for them as well. The inescapable conclusion is that, somehow, these lands and their administration must be shared, even if that now appears a distant prospect.
Dennis Gruending, Ottawa   

—Corrected February 26, 2024

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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