By Dallas Darling
When President Barack Hussein Obama reiterated that the Israeli blockade of Gaza was unsustainable, and when he announced an economic aid package worth millions of dollars for the beleaguered Palestinians, I asked myself: “Why Not a Black-Palestinian Liberation Theology?” (President Obama also addressed concern over the use of Israeli weapons against Palestinians, and the need of an “international mechanism” consisting of Egypt, Turkey, Israel, and of course, the Palestinian Authority.
In the Hebrew scriptures and Gospels, the word “salvation” can mean liberation, as well as deliverance, rescue, and freedom from oppression and injustices. James Cone, a Black Liberation theologian in the U.S., believed those who adhere to a faith in God should be engaged in the struggle for freedom and salvation politically, socially, and economically. At the same time, inward piety should not be substituted with social and political justice, but God’s reign of equality, love, and full economic rights can be realized now.
Whereas Black Liberation Theology emerged primarily in response to four-hundred years of slavery, segregation, racism, and the new racism-a disguised racism based upon the loss of jobs, lack of affordable housing and loans, and a disproportional number of blacks who are incarcerated, Palestinian Liberation Theology confronts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its emphasis is on justice as a foundation for peace, since Palestinians are continually faced with repeated beatings, arrests, imprisonment, raids, killings, destruction of their homes and farmlands, a blockade, and an occupation and military incursions by Israeli forces.
Like Black Liberation Theology, that recognizes centuries of enslavement, Palestinian Liberation Theology calls attention to Jesus, who as a Palestinian Jew, also lived under the brutal and militant conditions of the Roman Empire and its religious perpetrators. Central to both theologies is an emphasis on land, that was either stolen through harsh abductions, or seized through violent expulsions. A Black-Palestinian Theology would confront both the narrow biblical interpretation of Jewish and Christian Zionism, and a White European ethnocentric history that still attempts to justify conquests and exploitation.
A good starting point for a Black-Palestinian Liberation Theology would be the KAIROS Palestinian Document. It has condemned aggressive Israeli occupation, the most recent one occurring in Beit Shour, and has called on churches worldwide to support the identity and dignity of each and every Palestinian. Palestinian Christians and theologians, like Naim Ateek and Father Elias Chacour, have also called upon the world to be informed by truth, empowered by prayer and action, and to promote an inclusive understanding of God and one’s neighbor, as Jesus did.
As a Christian, will President Obama recognize the KAIROS Palestinian Document, which calls for “a connectedness to the land” as a natural right, and that declares the occupation of Palestinian land a sin against God and humanity? It would also be wise for President Obama to seek reconciliation with his former pastor, Rev. James Wright, especially with regards to the U.S. pre-emptive and ongoing wars around the world. Rev. Wright, a Black Liberation Theologian, understands global class struggles and racial inequalities that are often hidden through economic, political, religious, and social structures.
Rev. Wright has also challenged the many myths surrounding American Exceptionalism. He prophetically condemned the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, along with the massive stockpiling of nuclear/biological/chemical arsenals. Rev. Wright has denounced the U.S. corporate-military complex too, which is built on the backs of the working poor. The liberation of Gaza and its people might indeed be related to the liberation of how some in the U.S. view God: militant, pro-Israeli, and which only blesses the United States.
President Obama is in a very unique position, especially as he meets and continues to work with Israeli leaders. He, along with the U.S., Palestine, and Israel are at a critical juncture in the history of the world. Not only would a Black-Palestinian Liberation Theology move Israeli and Palestinian peace talks forward, but it would rebuild important ties with Islamic nations and the Muslim world. It would also give hope to millions of black Americans and Palestinians, who are experiencing high rates of unemployment and poverty. Oppression, racism, and dehumanization should be confronted everywhere, whether it be in Gaza or in the U.S., and they should be completely eliminated on Earth, as they are in Heaven.
President Obama and America: Why not a Black-Palestinian Liberation Theology?
– Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John‘s Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for www.worldnews.com. You can read more of Dallas’ writings at www.beverlydarling.com and wn.com//dallasdarling. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicl.com.