does peacemaking pick sides?

Reading the latest MB Herald, my denominational magazine, an article on Mennonites and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict caught my attention. The article raises some important issues surrounding the practice of peacemaking. Quite simply, does peacemaking pick sides?

The critics suggest three objections: "activists affiliated with MCC and CPT offer a one-state prescription for peace which fails to recognize that 'a Jewish minority would not be safe in a Muslim-and Arab-majority country in the Middle East'; 'ironic and hypocritical' Mennonite hostility toward Jewish sovereignty; and Mennonite 'inability to deal with the reality of evil and the power needed to confront it.'"

And the Mennonite Central Committee's response: "MCC decries all that acts of terror committed by Palestinian militants against Israelis, or Israeli military occupation of Palestinian lands... We seek to engage in ‘preventative defence’ on behalf of the world by proactively working for justice and peace." When it comes to picking sides in the conflict, "MCC seeks to respond to the most vulnerable people." In many cases, the most vulnerable happen to be Palestinians.

Now, I'm no expert on Middle Eastern politics and I realize the issue of securing peace is extremely complex on many levels. But the reality is, MCC's mission is to actively seek peace for all people, not political goodwill for nation-states. Plus I don't think it's our Christian responsibility to achieve political harmony at the expense of justice for the citizens of any given country. I seem to remember Jesus' response to our world's injustice picking sides too - "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" (Mt. 25:40 NIV).

My response: keep picking sides MCC and may God continue to use you to bring peace to our broken world.

FYI - I have a book review published in the same issue - "loving means engaging"


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