Adult Education · November 29, 2022

Fifth Avenue Launches Discussion Series on Israel & Palestine

On Sunday, Dec. 4, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian will convene the first in a series of discussions about the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.

These educational events come in response to a controversial resolution, adopted by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) last summer, that declared that “Israel’s laws, policies, and practices constitute apartheid against the Palestinian people.”

“We don’t expect that these sessions will magically result in everyone arriving at the same conclusion regarding the terrible state of affairs between Israel and Palestine,” says Senior Pastor Scott Black Johnston, who dissented from the General Assembly’s action in July. “Instead, we hope that good faith efforts—open-minded listening and prayerful study, combined with honest and gracious interfaith dialogue—will give us a better platform for thinking about this complex issue. This critically important work is an essential first step in assessing what role our church can play in advancing the cause of justice and peace in Israel and the occupied territories.”

The Adult Education program has organized three events, featuring an impressive array of historians, theologians, journalists and scholars, to guide our discussions.

On Sunday, our guest is Dr. Ross Brann, the Milton R. Konvitz Professor of Judeo-Islamic Studies and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University. Dr. Brann will review the origins and history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and offer a critical examination of the current state of affairs. This event begins at 12:30 pm in the Corning Logan Room.

On Sunday, Jan. 29, we will host an evening webinar to hear from individuals who are deeply engaged in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Panelists for this event will be finalized soon. The webinar is set for 7 pm.

On Sunday, Feb. 5, Dr. Jonathan Golden will lead us in a discussion of what we have learned as a congregation and help us discern where we go from here. Dr. Golden is the director of the Center on Religion, Culture & Conflict, an interdisciplinary center focused on global peacebuilding at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. This event will begin at 12:30 pm in Jones Auditorium.

“Get a jump on learning about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by reading The Lemon Tree this winter,” says Jaime Staehle, director of Christian education. “It is the true story of an enduring relationship between an Arab family and a Jewish family in Israel. It shows the personal impact of history and politics on faithful, peace-loving people.”

The author, Sandy Tolan, will be Jaime’s guest on Fifth Avenue’s Crossroads podcast in January.