Jonathan Kuttab is a distinguished Palestinian lawyer in Israel and Occupied Palestine with a long activist history in both places.an expert in international law, Kuttab is a rara avis in that he is a Christian in a predominantly Muslim community.
On September 26, Kuttab came to the boiler room of new ideas in Toronto, Beit Zatoun to discuss the present situation of impasse, a time when the two state solution is moribund but the language is still being used. The fact of 600,000 settlers who will not be moved, at a time when wholesale ethnic cleansing is impossible in the glare of international scrutiny , we are in the middle of a totally new moment in Israel/Palestine. It is a time of major rethinking.
Kuttab used as his fundamental motif the oft quoted line of Theodore Parker made famous by Martin luther King Jr:” “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
Kuttab is a realist. Palestinians are tired, tired of waiting for the world to catch up with the brutal results of occupation, tired of Israel constantly flouting international law, tired of corrupt Arab countries and terribly disappointed in their own Palestinian leadership.
“Am I an optimist? No. But i am hopeful”.
As a Christian, Kuttab speaks of hope as a “spiritual quality” which is quietly operative. This has been a constant refrain of mine…hope is a theological virtue which trusts that there is hidden divine energy at work in history which does indeed bend toward justice. It is best expressed in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Evil he reminds us contains the seeds of its own destruction.
On July 31 of this year the resident scribe-prophet of Israel Gideon Levy wrote
After we’ve cited nationalism and racism, hatred and contempt for Arab life, the security cult and resistance to the occupation, victimhood and messianism, one more element must be added without which the behavior of the Israeli occupation regime cannot be explained: Evil. Pure evil. Sadistic evil. Evil for its own sake. Sometimes, it’s the only explanation.
But evil can not last. Kuttab channels the thinking of his fellow Palestinian who works with him in the Bethlehem Bible College, the Lutheran theologian Mitri Raheb, who uses the concept of la longue durée. No occupation ever lasts. The Berlin wall fell, Mubarak was ousted, segregation died in the USA, apartheid in South Africa.Occupation coming up to 70 years is in its death throes.
Kuttab admits he does not know how or when the tipping point arrives but it is coming. As a Christian he prays that it is not violent.