Symbolic action – blood on the Rabin memorial

There’s been quite a lot of talk in recent days over Father Gerard Burn’s protest action of smearing his own blood and red paint on the memorial to Yitzhak Rabin. I have very mixed feelings, but I will stand up for Father Burns.

On the one hand, a statement that Rabin’s legacy has been tainted by the blood of innocents seems so very true, and would not be a criticism or attack on the Rabin himself. One can imagine Rabin’s shade weeping at the actions of the last few weeks.

On the other, it is hard to not hear the echo of at least some criticism of Rabin; perhaps for not going far enough, perhaps for the fish hooks in the Oslo accords, perhaps a stronger criticism. Whether that echo was intentional or not, it is there and Burn must have known it would be heard.

I wasn’t there, if I had been I would not have smeared the paint or cut my finger to join his action. But I would have stood there in support of Father Burn’s decision to take that symbolic action. It’s a line call for me, but a couple of things tip the balance: his use of his own blood fits a particular form of faith based protest; the act was not constructed as a ritual desecration; it is not Rabin’s grave; the act was for peace, it was not filled or framed with hate or anger. Perhaps as someone with a Peace Church heritage I give particular latitude to actions for peace that come out of faith and personal sacrifice… perhaps.

Like so many things about the Israel-Palestine situation this is a hard hard decision, but that makes it so much more important for us to stand up for what we believe.

Finally, can I recommend you go read Poneke’s contribution to the debate – he doesn’t agree with me, but as usual his arguments and well thought through and he stands up for what he believes.