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This article is part of the Jesus Now - Peace and Justice series.

Speech to a protest rally in Brisbane, AU (Saturday, 12 August 2006) to call for a ceasefire in Gaza and Lebanon.

Greg Jenks is president of Friends of Sabeel Australia and a member of the Australian Jewish-Anglican Dialogue group.

I wish to begin with an acknowledgement of the original peoples of this land — both the ancestors who were custodians of this sacred country for countless thousands of years, and also those who now share that traditional wisdom as well as their country with those of us who have arrived more recently but also love this place and respect its ways.

As a Christian priest, I also reflect on the special significance of the holy lands of the so-called Middle East. I am acutely aware that the land of Jesus in Galilee and southern Lebanon, from Nazareth to Tyre, is currently being torn apart by violence against the people, their communities and their land. Just this week we again read the story of Jesus walking from the sea of Galilee to the region around Tyre, and engaging in conversation with a woman from that city.

The violence also drives me to reflect on the meaning of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the pre-eminent sacred city: a place holy to Jews, to Christians and to Muslims. It should be a place where people of the three Abrahamic faiths live together in peace and offer all humanity a glimpse of how much better life can be when lived in obedience to the divine order. Instead, Jerusalem has become a scandal among the nations rather than a sign of hope and a gathering place for peace.

Today, I bring you greetings from SABEEL. Sabeel is an ecumenical and interfaith liberation theology centre in Jerusalem. It began as a centre for reflection and action as Palestinian Christians sought to make sense of their experience of occupation and dispossession, but it now includes Jewish and Muslim members as well. Sabeel is a grassroots Palestinian organisation that seeks to build peace and oppose the occupation in nonviolent ways.


As many of you here will know, in Arabic Sabeel means 'The Way' and also a 'Spring of Water.' Sabeel seeks identify a path to peace, and also the wellsprings of faith for those who would travel that path as peace-makers. Sabeel's goal is to develop a spirituality based on justice, peace and nonviolence, in order to secure liberation and reconciliation for the different national and faith communities in Israel/Palestine.

Sabeel also works to promote a more accurate international awareness regarding the identity, presence, and witness of Palestinian Christians.

I know that the Sabeel members in Jerusalem and in Nazareth deeply appreciate your presence here today. On their behalf I thank you for turning out to demonstrate your support for all who are suffering in this war and your desire for the violence to stop — immediately.

We must put the focus where it belongs — on people.

  • not lines on a map
  • not the rights of national states to defend themselves
  • not some plan for a New World Order — or even a "new Middle East"

It is people that matter: not land, not nations, not empires.

So we need to focus on the problem, and the problem is the occupation. For almost 60 years, the indigenous people of Palestine have been driven from the homes and their lands. The occupation must be named as the underlying evil and it must be addressed. It must be ended.

  • The solution to the violence and the fear that is destroying both Arabs and Jews will not be found in a wall that divides.
  • The solution will not be found in more guns, smarter rockets and bigger bombs.
  • The solution will not be found by bombing their neighbours back to the stone age or breaking up their homeland into isolated bantustans.

The solution will only be found when the occupation is resolved, when the land is returned, when the exiles are allowed home and when neighbours live together in peace.

  • The first step towards that solution is to stop the killing.
  • A second step towards that solution is to start talking.
  • And a further step towards that solution is to dream of a future together in the lands that we all call Holy.

In the name of the God of Abraham and Sarah — the God known to us in the Torah of Moses, the same God encountered in the actions and teachings of Jesus Christ, and the same God proclaimed in the message of the Prophet (peace be upon them all) — we call for an end to the killing, the start of genuine negotiations and the construction of a peace founded on justice for all the peoples and communities of the biblical lands.

Thank you for listening and thank you for caring.

©2006 Gregory C. Jenks