This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
The Christian messages keep coming. First Edward Snowden, then the Pope, now Mahmoud Abbas. Shall the last become first?
Perhaps. But if the news is accurate, it seems that America’s Secretary of State, John Kerry, is determined to dampen Abbas’s Christian cheer.
Reports are that the US plan to be presented to Israel and the Palestinians will include an Apartheid Wall in the Jordan Valley. The Palestinians in the West Bank would be walled in on both the Israeli and Jordanian side.
If such a proposal doesn’t prompt a real and final walk out by the Palestinian Authority, they are beyond the pale. Even Jesus can’t save them.
Of course, every day, Kerry adds new amendments to his plan. Expect more shifts in the coming days.
It seems that details of Kerry’s plan depend on which way the Israeli or Palestinian wind is blowing. Kerry’s lack of direction – and substance – is no doubt why he is a failed Secretary of State rather a former President of the United States.
Walls are physical enclosures. They are symbolic markers as well. No matter what the Palestinians do, their destiny is to be surrounded by foreign powers. How much leeway Palestine has to interact with these powers is crucial.
To think of any governing authority signing onto any variation of Kerry’s proposal boggles the mind. It’s a Vichy-like set-up. Palestinian leadership would be seen by many as collaborators in their own ghettoization.
To say that more Palestinian suffering would ensue if the PA refused to govern, that, for example, people’s salaries would be unpaid, that the economy would collapse, anarchy would ensue or that corruption and gangland violence would rule – all of this may be true. However, it is also possible that a concentrated effort by Palestinians to survive through mutual solidarity would win the day.
Would the international community wake-up if Abbas simply quit, shut the government down and went on the lam? Refusal to accept tyranny can be contagious.
When the Pope visits in March, perhaps, once arrived, he, too, might go on the lam. It would certainly draw the attention of the world if the Pope disappeared into a Palestinian refugee camp and refused to leave.
What do Abbas and the Pope have to lose?
As the noose is tightened, Abbas didn’t say much in his Christmas message and, strangely enough, the news lead in many newspapers was that Abbas had referred to Jesus, not as a Jew but as a “Palestinian messenger.” Abbas put it this way: “In Bethlehem, more than 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ was born; a Palestinian messenger who would become a guiding light for millions around the world. As we Palestinians strive for our freedom two millennia later, we do our best to follow his example. We work with hope, seeking justice, in order to achieve a lasting peace.”
A Palestinian messenger, indeed, and we have to add, a Jewish one at that. This makes Jesus a Palestinian Jew.
A Jewish Palestinian Jesus joining Abbas and the Pope in Palestine would certainly get the world’s attention.
Is John Kerry listening? Perhaps he should join them too.