"For decades people have lived with their fears. Whether those fears today are real or not, they still are fears. They are realities which we must understand, for you cannot heal a wound without knowing it."
Jim Zogby, past director of the Palestine Human Rights Campaign, shared these reflections near the end of the La Grange II conference held in May. The gathering was a sequel to a similar conference two years ago which issued the first La Grange Declaration (See Sojourners, July, 1979).
Evangelicals, Calvinists, Catholics, Mennonites, and mainline Protestants, as well as Palestinian Christians, joined with a scattering of Moslems and Jews to consider biblical foundations for justice and peace in the holy land.
Fr. Elias Chacour, the Palestinian Catholic priest interviewed in the October, 1980 issue of Sojourners, traveled from his home in Galilee to La Grange, Illinois, and told the Jews attending the conference, "I know how long you have been marginalized and persecuted. I have no words to describe it...I understand that you cannot risk friendship. You are a frightened people because of your sufferings. I feel a deep solidarity with you, for I too have suffered....You wanted your independence, self-determination, a home, and you were right....But this home that you wanted happened to be my home also."
Most of La Grange II was directed to how Christians should interpret the Bible and its themes of peoplehood, covenant, the land, and Jerusalem, in light of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.