“Justice and equality are the keys to lasting peace in the Holy Land, not the “two-state one nation solution”.
Bethlehem University vice-chancellor Br Peter Bray, FSC made this statement at a talk held at the Pompallier Diocesan Centre in Auckland on February 8.
“With all due respect, the New Zealand bishops . . . made a mistake in trying to highlight the two-state solution as the answer. The two-state solution is not only dead, it’s buried. That’s never going to happen,” Br Peter said.
On July 13, 2022, the bishops issued a statement supporting Pope Francis’ call to “to see these two peoples rebuild mutual trust and resume speaking directly to each other, in order to reach the point where they can live in two states, side by side, in peace and security, without hatred and resentment, but the healing born of mutual forgiveness”. This was a quote from Pope Francis’ address on January 10 last year to the members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.
Br Peter said, however, talking about this is “a distraction”.
“There will be arguments on both sides and you’re getting caught up . . . It’s not the issue. The issue is equality and justice. If we get that right, then we can go, ok, how are we going to live together,” he said.
Like the bishops, though, Br Peter encouraged New Zealanders to lobby the New Zealand Government to take a stand for justice and equality in the Holy Land and everywhere else in the world.
“Remember Martin Luther King’s poem, ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’,” he said, adding, “I think New Zealanders underestimate the impact that New Zealand can have.”
He said that New Zealand’s stand on the Springbok tour and its nuclear-free policy are a few examples of the impact that this country can have on the world.
He noted that, in 2015, when New Zealand was on theUN Security Council, Minister Murray Mc Cully promoted a resolution objecting to the expansion of settlements in Israel.
“Unfortunately, that one-off thing didn’t have a lasting impact, but it shows that New Zealand can do it. If we can get other countries to stand with us and unite with other countries against what Israel is doing and tip the . . . US (in favour of justice and peace), it’s possible. Maybe not in our lifetime but it’s possible,” he said.
Br Peter said that there is a need to keep talking about the reality in the region, “truthfully and accurately”.
“The reality is one people is dominating another. And this is a human rights violation. That’s really what it comes back to,” he said.
Br Peter said it is important to make sure that the language we use is neither anti-Semitic nor Islamophobic.
“Words create the world we seek to promote. I think we really do have to be very careful about that,” he said.
He also warned against reading the Bible that leads to fundamentalism.
Br Peter also suggested making “active non-violence a way of life”.
During his visit to his homeland, Br Peter spoke in each diocese in New Zealand.
Hock Beng Lee says
I was there at the talk given by Br Peter Bray at St Thomas More in Wellington. I have 2 comments in response to his solution of justice and equality. Firstly, his solution of justice and equality are principles. The question is what is the proposed political solution that would best reflect those principles. Br Peter does not say. His suggestion is airy fairly. The 2 states solution could reflect those principles, much depends on how much they are the governing principles to that solution . One needs to look at the details and aspirations. If it is unjust and inequitable then Bro Peter would have to enlighten us if he has really studied it. Secondly, given his strong advocacy for justice and equality why does he not advocate for the New Zealand Government and other Western countries to condemn Israel’s action in the same way as it was done against South Africa in her apartheid period. I had asked him that question which I received an evasive reply. Surely that would be the most just action to take – an international sanction against Israel. Indeed this has been advocated by many reasonable Palestinian politicians like Dr Mustafa Barghouti.