“Our Composite Identities and Dialogue”
Al-Liqa’ Center for Religious and Heritage Studies in the Holy Land (the Galilee Branch)
The Jerusalem Center for Jewish – Christian Relations (JCJGR)
Nes Ammim Resort and Guest House
Friday and Saturday, 9-10 March 2007
A conference was held at the Nes Ammim Resort and Guest House entitled “Our Composite Identities and Dialogue.” Taking part in this joint conference were Al-Liqa’ Center / (Galilee Branch) and the Jerusalem Center for Jewish – Christian Relations (JCJGR). Conferees, from both organizations, discussed composite identities and methods of reading the Bible in the land of the Bible.
Opening greetings by Dr. Geries S. Khoury, Director of AL-Liqa’ Center, and Daniel Rossing, Director of Jerusalem Center for Jewish – Christian Relations, inaugurated this joint conference. This was followed by two lectures on reading of Bible in the Holy Land and the impact of identity on this reading by Zahava Nweberger, representing a Jewish view, and Dr. Geries S. Khoury, representing a Christian Arab view. Zahava, in addition stressed how her personal and communal identity influences the way she interprets the Bible. On his part Dr. Geries critized the Jewish reading of the Bible and the potential negative aspects of such a reading giving as an example the Book of Psalm 121 which is considered a great challenge to Palestinians, as they raise their eyes to the mountains and see Israeli colonial settlements expropriating their land. Is this the God of love and mercy who sides with one party against the other? Is this the God that gives land to a particular people at the expense of other people? Dr. Khoury’s lecture generated heated discussions.
In the second day of the conference participants were divided into small working groups to discuss in details the issue of identity and its impact on citizenship in the Jewish state and the conflicts resulting from discrimination against non – Jewish citizens, and especially the Arabs.
In the ensuing discussions ways to read the Bible were focused upon. The Christian Arab group reiterated the need to separate the religious from the political reading while the Jewish group stressed that in their reading, it is clear that God’s promised the Land of Israel to the Jews only.
Summarizing the study day, the two groups stressed the importance and vitality of dialogue despite the differences. Dialogue is the only approach that is human and civilizational. Furthermore, the two centers agreed to continue holding such meetings. This study day is being held second year in a raw.