• OPINION \ Jan 15, 2017
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    Jesus speaks at the Paris International Conference - Yohanna Katanacho
Jesus speaks at the Paris International Conference - Yohanna Katanacho

I want to imagine that Jesus is giving a talk at the Paris International Conference. His speech includes the following:

Dear friends and beloved nations. I want to thank all of you for inviting me to attend this important conference because I always appreciate those who pursue peace. The vision of peace is compatible with God’s vision. Peace that is rooted in justice and that seeks a common future for conflicting parties is praiseworthy. As the prince of peace, I have seen in your newspapers that there are several issues of disagreement.

First, the Palestinians as well as the international community consider the settlements in the 1967 occupied territories illegal. However, Israel continues to build and expand these settlements.
Second, the Palestinians want to see East Jerusalem as their capital according to the borders of 1967 while the state of Israel refuses to divide Jerusalem.
Third, the Palestinians want to resolve the issues of millions of Palestinian refugees who suffered as a result of the 1948 war and other wars. The state of Israel does not accept the historical narrative of Palestinians.
Fourth, Israel wants the Palestinians to accept a Jewish state but the Palestinians are not willing to do so.
Fifth, Israel claims that Palestinians incite violence against the Jewish people but the Palestinians disagree.
These are some of the major issues that are presented in several newspapers. However, I want to briefly address this context differently. Unless we change our worldview we will not be able to move forward. The root of the problem starts in our hearts.
When we have a selfish national heart, an exclusive attitude, and hate, then we will not attain peace. When we insist on stereotyping others and praising ourselves then we will not attain peace. When we claim moral superiority and denigrate others then we will not attain peace. When we ignore that people who are suffering as refugees for decades then we will not attain peace. When we prefer to wage wars then we will not invest our efforts in building bridges.
I know that you think that my speech is not practical and you might ask about Jerusalem or borders. Remember my speech with the Samaritan woman. We had different perceptions about “Holy Space” but when we discussed the same topic in light of the nature of God the outcome was different. God is the King of Peace and desires that His peace enters our hearts and our countries. So please stop arguing about insignificant logistics and pursue justice with the logic of love. The state of Israel and the Palestinians need to learn to live together.
I have some ideas about the political solutions but I will not share them today. However, I agree that all of us need to maintain the basic human rights and respect the international law. These are the minimum standards but if you need to do more, then remember the Sermon on the Mount which I presented 2000 years ago. I believe you have it in the Gospel of Matthew. It is still valid today. Those who oppose need to reconsider and look into their hearts. Choosing a selfish peace is different than choosing a divine-like peace. The latter is sacrificial and just.
I call from this pulpit both Palestinian and Israelis to love life not death, to seek to bless not to curse, to celebrate the existence of the other rather than to pray for their disappearance. In short, I support your efforts to advocate peace and I am sad that some have come with a wrong motive while others did not come for the wrong reasons.
I do hope that this conference will be positive and its outcome will contribute to building a better future for the Middle East. My Peace be with you and may it guide you as peacemakers! Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.
Yohanna Katanacho is the Academic Dean at Nazareth Evangelical College