|SFTS distinguished alum returns to campus for talk on Israel/Palestine conflict|
Rev. Dr. Naim Stifan Ateek reminded San Francisco Theological Seminary students, faculty, staff, alums, local clergy, community members and other guests that Jerusalem is a sacred place to Christians, Jews and Muslims during a visit to San Anselmo in March.
The 2002 SFTS Distinguished Alum, who earned a Doctor of Ministry in 1985, addressed the near-capacity crowd in Alexander Hall. A highly regarded Palestinian Christian, Ateek heads the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, which he founded in 1989. His organization is actively working to bring peace to the Israel/Palestine conflict. Ateek is also former Canon of St. George's Cathedral in Jerusalem.
Ateek was the first to articulate a Palestinian theology of liberation in his book, Justice and Only Justice: A Palestinian Theology of Liberation, published in 1989. His book laid the foundation of a theology that addresses the conflict over Palestine and explores its political, religious, biblical and theological dimensions. Ateek’s latest book, A Palestinian Christian Cry of Reconciliation, was published in 2008.
Ineda Adesanya, SFTS Master of Divinity/DASD middler, said she definitely gained new insights from the discussion. “Dr. Ateek is an engaging speaker. The wealth of information he brought forth was amazing and profound, and deepened my awareness of and critical thinking about the Israel/Palestine conflict,” said Adesanya. “If he were to teach a class at SFTS, I would be among one of the first to sign up!”
Ateek started his talk by offering praise. “Thank God for the Christians, Jews and Muslims who have the courage to speak up for justice.” He expressed that it will take all of us working together toward a vision of peace if conflict resolution is ever going to be realized.
Politics have proven to be dismantling of any efforts to achieve peace and justice for all, according to Ateek. He believes that achieving peace will require the three largest Christian denominations (Catholicism, Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy), which have major conferences and largesse, to raise their voices in unison and boldly lead the charge for peace. Ateek believes that Presbyterians can lead the way in the progression of non-violent action.
“The United Nations is ineffective because they are weak,” stated Ateek. “We have to operate from a basis of truth, and not simply politics. Granted, this is an ongoing challenge because to some people, truth does not make a difference.”
Ateek concluded his talk by saying, “Whether your truths about the Promised Land reside in the Torah or the Bible, Jerusalem is a sacred place for all people.”
-- By Kay Carney
SFTS Vice President of Communications