The aim of the conference is to study the phenomenon of Christian Zionism, a potent religious and political force in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict associated with right-leaning ideologies that directly and negatively impact the lives of Palestinians. Adherents of Christian Zionism believe that any policy or action by the state of Israel is willed by God and should be unconditionally supported by Christians because it will lead to the final conflict between good and evil, the end of the world and the return of Christ to earth.
Policies of the United States towards Israel are increasingly determined by politicians who are themselves Christian Zionists and who assume that being biblical is synonymous with being pro-Israel. Sabeel's basis in liberation theology and the Gospel teachings on justice, contends that Christian Zionism is highly problematic for all who believe in the biblical mandate of justice for all God's people. During the Sabeel conference a particular session will address "Christian Zionism in U.S. Policy Making." Other sessions will address issues pertaining to the role of religion as a humanizing factor, and strategies of nonviolence.
Once a fringe concern, Christian Zionism is now a movement of over 40 million mainstream, middle to upper-middle class Americans. Their political agenda in practice includes supporting Israeli colonialism, sustaining and adopting illegal settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, supporting the Israeli lobby in Washington, lobbying for the international recognition of the city of Jerusalem as the exclusive and undivided Jewish capital of Israel, and even in some Christian Zionist circles a plan to seize the Temple Mount in the Muslim section of Jerusalem's Old City, destroy the Muslim Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, and rebuilt the Jewish Temple.
The keynote address will be given by The Most Reverend and Rt. Honorable Rowan D. Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. Speakers from the U.S. include Catholic theologian Rosemary Radford Ruther who is Carpenter Professor of Feminist Theology at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley; author Donald Wagner, who is Professor of Religion and Executive Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Northpark University in Chicago; Rev. Fahed Abu-Akel, a Palestinian and the former moderator of the Presbyterian Church USA; and Rev. Brian Grieves of the Anglican Peace and Justice Network at the Episcopal Church Center in New York. Speakers from other countries include journalist Gershom Gorenberg, senior editor at The Jerusalem Report and a contributor to The New Republic; and Rev. Stephen Sizer of the U.K. whose Ph.D. thesis claims that Christian Zionism has become the most powerful and destructive force at work in the U.S. today, shaping western foreign policy on the Middle East and inciting hatred between Jews and Muslims. Individuals interested in learning more about conference registration and program should contact Friends of Sabeel-North America in Portland, Oregon at 503-653-6625 or by email at SabeelSeeds@aol.com.
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