It is impossible to remember events of 40 years ago in the Holy Land, and reflect on all that has happened since, without being deeply moved at the scale of this human tragedy and the continuing heartbreak across the region.
If we have learned anything at all from our experiences in South Africa, surely it is this: that the only lasting solution to any conflict must come through a process of reconciliation that paves the way for a future built upon justice, where former antagonists can find true freedom, peace and prosperity together, and where each is served by, and therefore promotes, the flourishing of the other.
This is our hearts’ desire for the people of Palestine and of Israel.
Such a reconciliation is not easily won – South Africans know that full well. But it is the only prize worth fighting for. Anything less feeds the continuing cycles of oppression, injustice, and destructive violence. The only truly rational human solution is for people to wage reconciliation together.
As Christians we follow one who is called the Prince of Peace, who calls on all his followers to be agents of his Gospel of Reconciliation. This responsibility is not to be taken lightly. That is why I am glad that Christians from this country continue to serve with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel. That is why it is vital that we share our own difficult journey, and our experiences of God’s inexhaustible grace in the face of what seemed an intractable conflict, where a bloodbath appeared unavoidable.
Our God is also the God of hope – so we dare to pray for a future where Jews, Muslims and Christians enjoy peace as brothers and sisters together, where occupation and oppression cease, where violence and fighting end, and where everyone can live without fear, in security, and experience the true freedom and abundant life for which we were each created.
On behalf of the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town,
Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane