[notice]UK-based South African-born journalist Charles Gardner reports from the At the Crossroads conference in Jerusalem.[/notice]
After yet another failure of Middle East talks, it would be perfectly understandable if claims of a successful peace process were met by gross scepticism.
But such a claim is being made, and it is very credible, judging by the evidence. I will explain in due course.
– Muslim goes to Mecca — and finds Jesus!
– Israel and Iran pray for each other
Following the breakdown of the latest US-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at securing some sort of deal, positions on both sides seemed to have hardened.
The Israeli government is adamant they cannot do business with a Palestinian Authority now linked with terrorist group Hamas, who have vowed to destroy the Jewish state. And in any case the PA has shown no interest in peace by their constant refusal to recognise Israel’s existence, which is to defy international agreements going back to the 1920s, quite apart from any biblical claims.
And what hope is there of peace when Arab children are being taught – on television programmes targeted at them, no less – to shoot “all the Jews”, as the Palestinian Media Watch group shockingly revealed in their latest report?
Their findings were based on the Hamas children’s programme, Tomorrow’s Pioneers, screened on Al-Aqsa TV on May 2.
And while PA leader Mahmoud Abbas declares that not a single Jew will be allowed in his proposed Palestinian state, the world’s media accuses Israel of apartheid rather than their neighbours.
Peace in action
And yet, amidst all this conflict, a conference begins in Jerusalem tomorrow in which Arab and Jewish delegates will not be talking about peace, but living it out in action, embracing one another in the name of the Jew who changed the world, inaugurated a whole new era and who still brings peace to hearts all over the globe, including this strife-torn region.
The man who died a cruel death by being nailed to a Roman cross in this city 2,000 years ago has brought about this reconciliation between Arab and Jew, just as the Apostle Paul said it would, by breaking down “the dividing wall of hostility” through his sacrifice for sin.
Speaking of Jews and Gentiles, previously separated, he wrote: “Christ’s purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” (St Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 15 & 16)
Called At the Crossroads, this unique invitation-only conference aims to deepen the bonds of fellowship between Muslim-background followers of Jesus and Jewish followers of Jesus as they encourage and support one another, thus making a significant contribution to real peace in the Middle East.
The conference will be held at Christ Church, just inside the magnificent walls of the Old City, and is part of a largely untold story of how Muslim-background Arab, Turkish and Kurdish followers of Jesus from the Middle East and North Africa are forging close ties with Jewish believers in Jesus.
The organisers have taken inspiration from a biblical passage in the Book of Isaiah (chapter 19), which speaks of a highway of blessing from Egypt to Assyria (which includes the Arab Middle East, north-western Iran, south-eastern Turkey, part of Armenia and Cyprus) via Israel.
Delegates are coming from throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
The conference aims to strengthen a developing network of mutual co-operation and explore more practically how all the sons of Abraham can together help build a ‘highway’ of blessing in the region.