Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lent 3, Romans—Since We are Justified by Faith

Since we are justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…

Romans 5.1-11

So, as Martin Luther once said (or is believed to have said), "sin boldly!"

I have used this blog to help North Americans read the Bible through a lens of the Palestinian experience. This necessarily entails examining Israel's occupation and confiscation of their lands, since this is at the heart of the Palestinian experience. This critical look at Israel's policies and treatment of Palestinians always provokes resistance, even in me, because I was raised in an America that deeply regretted the holocaust—I, like many Americans vow, "Never again."

But support for Palestinians and criticism of Israel does not equal hatred of Israel or Jews. Support for Palestinians is not anti-Semitism. In fact, while criticizing Israel is NOT anti-Semitic, labeling all Jews as supporters of Israel's policies, IS racist. It is no different than labeling all Jews as money-grubbers. It is a racial/ethnic stereotype that harms people. Jewish Voice for Peace and other Jewish peace groups are adamant about this.

Recently, campus groups of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) have been targeted on their campuses for actions they have taken, speakers they have invited, etc. This clamping down on free speech on several college campuses is an orchestrated effort to silence those who hold a critical view of Israel. Their speech is NOT anti-Semitic. (An aside: "anti-Semitic" is misleading anyway, since Palestinians are also Semitic people.)

There is an active SJP group at DU, but I have not heard of any problems they have encountered.

Christ Hedges wrote a comprehensive article in TruthDig on Monday, explaining what is happening on college campuses, "Israel's War on American Universities." I commend it for your reading today: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/israels_war_on_american_universities_20140316http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/israels_war_on_american_universities_20140316

The article begins….

The banning of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Northeastern University in Boston on March 7, along with a university threat of disciplinary measures against some of its members, replicates sanctions being imposed against numerous student Palestinian rights groups across the country. The attacks, and the disturbingly similar forms of punishment, appear to be part of a coordinated effort by the Israeli government and the Israel lobby to blacklist all student groups that challenge the official Israeli narrative.

Northeastern banned the SJP chapter after it posted on campus replicas of eviction notices that are routinely put up on Palestinian homes set for Israeli demolition. The university notice of suspension says that if the SJP petitions for reinstatement next year, “No current member of the Students for Justice in Palestine executive board may serve on the inaugural board of the new organization” and that representatives from the organization must attend university-sanctioned “trainings.”

In 2011 in California, 10 students who had disrupted a speech at UC Irvine by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren were found guilty, put on informal probation and sentenced to perform community service….continue reading

Gracious God, we are freed by your son, to act boldly in using our wealth and power to defend those who are poor and powerless. Help us see where we have this opportunity in our lives this Lent and embolden us to act. Amen.

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