Christian Palestinian activist Areej Masoud is currently on a speaking tour in Australia. She currently works as the Development & Communications Department Coordinator at Bethlehem Bible College. On Thursday, 25 October, she dropped by the Uniting Church’s office in Sydney and met with members of the NSW/ACT Synod’s Relations With Other Faiths Reference Group.
Ms Masoud told the group about her life as a Palestinian Christian living in Bethlehem, including that she would sometimes miss work because she was not allowed through checkpoints, and did not always have access to running water. She said that Palestinian Christians often were neglected as a group in the debate over the future of Israel Palestine.
“Even political leaders refer [to the Middle Eastern conflict] as the Jewish conflict against Muslims,” she said.
She added that US President Donald Trump’s moving the US embassy to Jerusalem was welcomed by Israel, it had led to Palestinians becoming more pessimistic about their future.
During the Wentworth by election, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison floated the idea of Australia also moving its embassy to Jerusalem. Ms Masoud has previously said that this move would “would send a message that we are unseen or don’t exist.”
“For us Palestinians, it has more significance than just changing a location,” Ms Masoud said.
“It would legitimise an occupation that violates international law and that terrifies me.
Ms Masoud said that her time studying theology at Bethlehem University had helped her reconcile her faith with her status as a Palestinian person.
This included learning that loving her enemy did not mean that she had to be submissive in the face of oppression.
“If loving my enemy means just being quiet or being obedient to my enemy, I couldn’t do it,” she said.
NSW/ACT Moderator Rev. Simon Hansford told Insights that it had been great to hear from Ms Masoud.
“What she had to say … provided a very real sense of what really comprises people’s identity,” Rev. Hansford said.
The presentation, he said, provided a sense of what it was like to be a Palestinian Christian, beyond political and religious stereotypes.
Ms Masoud pointed to the Christ at the Checkpoint conference as a source of hope for Christian Palestinians. This theological conference is a biannual event that recently took place in Oklahoma City. “It’s doing great work, it’s becoming a movement,” Ms Masoud said.
Ms Masoud’s tour is organised by the Palestinian Israel Ecumenical Network. It has also included events in Canberra and Melbourne.
Areej Masoud is speaking at Balmain Uniting Church at 6pm on Saturday 27 October, 2018. Tickets are now available at Trybooking.
Image: Uniting Church Moderator Rev Simon Hansford, Areej Masoud, Stuart Mills, and Rev Dr Manas Ghosh
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor