APAN Christmas message

2015 has not been a good year for planet earth and its people. In the midst of so much pain and anguish it is easy to lose sight of particular people, especially those whose pain is ongoing. Such is the lot of the people of Palestine. The world has become almost impervious to the plight of people whose story of displacement and alienation from their home and land has remained the same since 1948. And yet it is not the same, new generations are born, hopes of a just outcome are dashed and the daily lives and rights of 5million+ people remain less than those of us in the West would countenance for ourselves.

Australians pride themselves on the standard of a fair go. Most would be totally unaware that while supporting a two-state solution, both sides of Australian politics do almost nothing of substance to support this ‘solution’. Such is the reality of Australian political self interest that unquestioned support for Israel, regardless of it’s flaunting of international law and disregard for Palestinian human rights, overrides our international responsibility to speak and act for justice.

It is in this context that APAN continues to work hard to redress the balance. We believe that justice for Palestinians will also make Israel more secure. We believe that a thriving Palestinian economy will make the region safer and the young less likely to be radicalised. We believe that the truth should and must be told. We are very open to hearing a different perspective, but the reality is the Palestinian case for justice is irrefutable. It has been suggested that in 2016 there might be a public forum, perhaps in the national capital, in which the Israeli and Palestinian narratives can be told side by side. Given that Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is indefensible, this is unlikely to occur.

We are very grateful for APAN’s growing membership and the influence exercised by all. We strongly encourage all our supporters to regularly correspond with your local Member of Parliament (Federal and State) and particularly to do so when a news item in relation to Palestine has received media attention.

The world Christian community is now celebrating its primary festival of love respect and ‘goodwill to all people’ – Christmas. Its narrative, focussed upon the West Bank town of Bethlehem, reminds us that Palestine is home to three great faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. For centuries members of all three religions have lived side by side in respect and trust. The 20th century has seen this coexistence destroyed, as other world interests, especially European and American, have imposed themselves. May this harmony be restored, may trust return. May each be blessed by seeking the blessing of others. May those who seek advantage at the expense of others be exposed. May we in the West who have been historically part of the problem, finally be genuine partners in a just solution

May 2016 be the year in which the door of hope opens a little and the light of human kindness begins to enter the long suffering land of Palestine.

Warm good wishes for the year ahead.

Bishop George Browning, PhD DLitt
President, APAN
23 December 2015