Bethlehem, Occupied West Bank – About 200 international participants came to Bethlehem today for the Eighth Sabeel International Conference. The group gathered at the Bethlehem Hotel under the theme, “Challenging Empire: God, Faithfulness and Resistance.” Sabeel is the ecumenical liberation theology center based in Jerusalem.
Ambassador Hind Khoury told the group that they could not be meeting at a more interesting moment in history, “a historical moment for us Palestinians and Arabs, for empire and for the world. While the situation Palestine has been dramatic for too long, events are now snowballing in front of our eyes planting the seeds of change for the region and forever.” Khoury is the former ambassador to France from the Palestinian Authority and serves on the Sabeel Board of Directors.
Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh’s task was Mapping Empire Today in Palestine and Israel, citing “The 13 percent of Bethlehem that is the concentration camp we (Palestinians) are allowed to live in,” while the remainder is either zoned out of bounds or “illegally annexed.” Israel continues building its Wall, which in Bethlehem is 60-70 percent complete. Qumsiyeh is a professor at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities.
The Rev. Alison Tomin and Deacon Eunice Attwood, president and vice-president respectively of the Methodist Church in Britain, discussed the process that led to adoption of an important report and resolutions on justice and peace for Palestine and Israel at last summer’s Methodist Conference.