What Are You Reading and Why?

Beyond Occupation: American Jewish, Christian and Palestinian Voices for Peace

Rosemary Reuther and Marc Ellis, Beacon Press, 1990

reviewed by Vern Ratzlaff

The Israeli occupation of the territories won in the Six day War of 1967 entered a new phase in 1987 with the beginnings of the Palestinian uprising (intifada).  Beyond Occupation explores frameworks for peace in the Middle East in this development.  The American Jewish contributors look at the meanings that the intifada holds for the theology of Judaism; Christian contributors articulate an ethical framework for a peace settlement, seeking to distinguish between anti-semitism and a critique of Jewish policies; Palestinian contributors offer a perspective on the long history of events leading up to the intifada, arguing for an awareness of the Palestinian experience as the necessary basis for reconciliation in the Middle East.

Beyond Occupation is arranged in four sections.  The first contains Jewish responses to the uprising, showing the diversity of opinions and perspectives within that community; common themes by the six essayists are the role of ethics and the shocking policy of lethal force ad bone breaking beatings.  The second section has four Christian contributors seeking a just balance between concern for national security and for Israeli and Palestinian rights, seeking to distinguish between anti-Semitism and a critique of Israeli policies.  The third section consists of five essays dealing with the Palestinian story from the perspective of the British mandate and the Balfour Declaration.  The final three essays attempt to identify common ground for discussion among the three groups.

A helpful book for understanding the nature of the Middle East situation.

Vern Ratzlaff is a pastor and professor of historical theology at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.