Israel moved quickly Friday to reject what it sees as a new French ultimatum on recognition of a Palestinian state. The Palestinians, however, welcomed the French initiative.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced earlier in the day that France would shortly try to convene an international conference, with the hope of enabling new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, but that if this effort reached a dead end, Paris would recognize a Palestinian state.
“And what will happen if this last-ditch attempt at reaching a negotiated solution hits a stumbling block?” Fabius said. “In that case, we will have to live up to our responsibilities and recognize a Palestinian state.”Israel rejected the approach. “This is not how one conducts negotiations and not how one makes peace,” an Israeli official was quoted by the Hebrew daily Haaretz as saying.
It was 11:30 am on a sunny Tuesday in mid-April, and the Hong Kong Express had been docked at Hamburg’s Container Terminal Altenwerder for exactly 33 hours. Already, the ship was half empty. Cargo from Asia was stacked in neat rows of shipping containers on the dock.
Standing in its shadow, it’s hard to appreciate just how big the Hong Kong Express is. From stem to stern, it’s 1,200 feet, nearly a quarter of a mile; from side to side it’s 157 feet, about as wide as some mega yachts are long. Fully loaded, it can carry 13,167 20-foot-long containers, the standard box used in commerce around the world. Laid end to end, that many boxes—each one containing anything from T-shirts to TVs to truck parts—would stretch for 50 miles.
As the spring sun climbed higher, glinting off the placid Elbe River, some cranes nestled containers into towering metal racks on the ship’s deck while others lifted boxes out. At full tilt, Altenwerder’s custom-built cranes can simultaneously load and unload more than 150 containers per hour. Already, full racks of Asia-bound cargo towered 50 feet above the deck, corrugated steel containers stacked like Lego blocks six deep. Still more hid unseen within the behemoth’s matte crimson hull.
Before Wednesday dawned, the Hong Kong Express would be underway once more, sailing 70 miles down the Elbe to its mouth on the North Sea. Once it edged away from the Hamburg dock, its progress amounts to a snapshot of global commerce: first a brief westward sail to the English port of Southampton, then nearly a month chugging at 25 miles per hour to Singapore.
After a brief stop, the vessel worked its way north. By early June, it would edge into Busan, South Korea. Next stop, China: first Shanghai, then to Ningbo bordering Hangzhou Bay, and finally to the megacity of Shenzhen. It would return once more to Singapore before wheeling about and heading back toward Europe.
The recent suspension of Larycia Hawkins by Wheaton College is a symptom of a fault line among evangelicals about Islam. The question of whether the God of the Qur’an is the same as the God of the Bible is an important and complex one, but it is unhelpful to politicize inquiry into it by insisting that anyone who disagrees with one position or another is a bigot.
This article below is appearing in the February 2016 edition of Eternity, which is distributed to local churches across Australia. It is more an engagement with Volf than an exploration of the evolving, escalated situation at Wheaton, which seems to be not just about the ‘same God’ issue, but also about the use and impact of social media in the context of an academic dispute. I would like to write more on this interesting topic of ‘Do we worship the same God’ and the situation at Wheaton but am very tied up with finishing a book project just at the moment.
Palestinians would never do anything to help Israeli settlements
Palestinian propaganda has become cliche: settlements are an obstacle to peace, Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is like the way blacks were once treated in South Africa, Israelis have ghettoized Palestinians behind the security fence and Israeli businesses in the West Bank should be boycotted. We’ve debunked these myths elsewhere in Myths and Facts, but there is one statistic that provides a powerful rebuttal to the promulgators of this nonsense: 25,000. That is the approximate number of Palestinians who “hold permits that allow them to work inside the settlements, where they build homes for the settlers or work in Israeli-owned businesses.” 698
Take a moment to digest this information. Thousands of Palestinians are helping to build the very structures that their government, as well as foreign governments, want torn down. They work in the businesses that the boycott, sanctions and divestment movement (BDS) want the world to punish. People who are allegedly so persecuted they live in a constant state of fear, anger and humiliation work side by side with Israelis, earning more money and enjoying superior benefits to what they would receive from Palestinian employers. According to the Palestinian Authority’s official newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, (September 21, 2014):