Messianic Jewish and Palestinian Christian disciples of Jesus met in Antalya, Turkey, February 14-17, 2019 for the 5th conference of the Lausanne Initiative on Reconciliation in Israel/Palestine (LIRIP). 27 participants from Israel, the West Bank and Gaza met in Antalya, Turkey, for three days of prayer, study and discussion. Their focus was how to make a difference through practical demonstrations of the reconciling love of Jesus across the boundaries of intractable conflict and the seemingly irreconcilable dividing walls of politicised identities. The group was comprised of Jewish and Arab disciples of Jesus, including participants from Muslim, Orthodox Jewish and Orthodox Christian backgrounds, all committed to working together to achieve peace. Together they affirmed their unity and commitment to work for reconciliation and a just peace in Israel/Palestine.
The conference was sponsored by the Lausanne Initiative for Reconciliation in Israel/Palestine (LIRIP). Its vision is “to promote reconciliation within the body of Christ and our wider communities in Israel and Palestine by creating a network that encourages, under the auspices of the Lausanne Movement, models of gospel-based, Christ-centered reconciliation that will have prophetic impact in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Under the theme of “Exploring our Conflicting Identities” participants gave presentations on Israeli and Palestinian identities and our reconciled identities in Christ/Messiah. Presentation topics included identity theory, Palestinian identity in Israel, Christian focus on Palestinian nationalism, an exploration of Zionism, contested issues in Palestinian society, military service in Israel, and being a Palestinian in Israel under the new Nationality Law. The legal and practical implications of this recently passed law (an Israeli Basic Law which specifies the nature of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people) were discussed in frank, open and at times heated discussion, with respectful acknowledgement of the various and differing positions held.
The three groups – Palestinians living in Israel, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and Messianic Jewish Israelis – discussed how their own identities challenged them to be more accepting and understanding of others, and to recognise the issues needing to be addressed in their own identity construction. The three groups met separately to discuss their own group’s weaknesses and identified what each group saw as the weaknesses of the other group, subsequently presenting their views to the full group. Challenging discussions followed in an atmosphere of openness and respect.
The fifth conference of the Lausanne Initiative on Reconciliation in Israel/Palestine built on the momentum of previous meetings. The Larnaca Statement and Cape Town Commitment affirm the need for peace-building and justice in ethnic and political conflict. Future meetings will involve joint activities, mutual hospitality and theological consultations. The group plans to further address the many theological, social and practical challenges that arise in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Lisa Loden, co-chair of the Initiative, said “We see each other across the walls and barricades of two separated communities. We are divided amongst ourselves and across our communities yet we are here to seek peace and pursue reconciliation. Living in the context of the intractable Israeli –Palestinian conflict, together we are choosing to cross the divides and build bridges of understanding, trust and mutual commitment; to stand together for justice, peace and reconciliation. Our faith in Jesus as Messiah and Saviour of all unites, empowers and calls us to action.”
Botrus Mansour, co-chair of the Initiative, said: “As followers of the Messiah in the land we are called to be a prophetic voice calling for justice and equality regardless of our conflicting identities in the midst of conflict. We have shared candidly with empathy how we can do that.”
Grace Matthews, previous Vice-Chair of the Global Board for the Lausanne Movement, thanked the participants “ . . . for taking the time to be here at a time when there seems to be increasing polarisation between denominations, religions, governments, and races. It is good to see a group gathering together, to reconcile differences rather than to live in the animosity of estrangement. We are called to love even our enemies. As Christians we can no longer afford to be silent in a world crying out for honest voices. My fervent prayer is that we can continue to chart a course that will glorify the redeeming love of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
For more information and details of future meetings, contact: