Random Links 303 (“Pain in Palestine” Edition)

Church Groups Deplore Harm to Gaza Civilians

As a father of three children, I’m always asking what’s happening to the children?

As Israel’s assault on Hamas in the Gaza Strip mounts, Christian groups are increasingly speaking out against the attacks on civilians, especially children, who make up more than half of the Gaza population.

“It is the most vulnerable – children and other civilians – who experience the greatest suffering in these situations,” highlighted international humanitarian aid World Vision in a statement. “Furthermore, an untold number of children in Gaza and southern Israel live in fear as a result of the broken ceasefire.

“We mourn for all those killed and are deeply concerned with the lasting impact of this violence on the affected populations,” the agency added.

Lutheran Bishop Joins Jerusalem Church Leaders in Calling for Peace

I’m hoping to get a reply from my pastor friend Samer who’s there ASAP.

Statement on Gaza Violence and Bishops’ Visit to Middle East

I hope to hear my Pastor Samer Azar on the result of this visit.

In these days of terrible violence, death and destruction in Gaza and southern Israel, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) joins its voice with all in the region and around the world who call for an immediate ceasefire. The continuing loss of life, infliction of serious injury and devastation of property will only deepen hatred and divisions, and will serve no good end. Lamenting the recent escalation of violence, only negotiations, leading to a two-state solution, will bring about a durable peace with justice for both Israelis and Palestinians.

The ELCA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) are carefully monitoring events in the region as their bishops prepare for their upcoming Academy visit, the planning for which began two years ago. Bishops of both churches have met several times this week by phone, and are united in their assessment that the trip is timelier than ever and should proceed. In keeping with the 2005 ELCA "Churchwide Strategy for Engagement in Israel and Palestine," the trip emphasizes accompaniment with its Lutheran partners in the region, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) and The Lutheran World Federation (LWF). In this very difficult time, the bishops hope that their presence can be a source of comfort to these partners and manifest support for these ministries.

Statement by the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem on the current devastating situation in Gaza

Apparently, one of the mainstream newspapers was selling out so fast due to their coverage on Gaza and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Did they include anything from this statement?

Accordingly, we call upon all officials of both parties to the conflict to return to their senses and refrain from all violent acts, which only bring destruction and tragedy, and urge them instead to work to resolve their differences through peaceful and non-violent means. 

We also call upon the international community to fulfill its responsibilities and intervene immediately and actively stop the bloodshed and end all forms of confrontation; to work hard and strong to put an end to the current confrontation and remove the causes of conflict between the two peoples; and to finally resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a just and comprehensive solution based on international resolutions.

To the various Palestinian factions we say: It is time to end your division and settle your differences. We call on all factions at this particular time to put the interests of the Palestinian people above personal and factional interests and to move immediately toward national comprehensive reconciliation and use all non-violent means to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the region.

CMEP Calls on President Bush to Work for a Renewed Ceasefire in Gaza

As the day approaches for a newly elected President to be sworn in, one wonders how the out going one will be remembered.

As people of faith, we care deeply about the welfare of both Israelis and Palestinians and deplore the violent deaths of those caught in this conflict. We reject all justifications for the unconscionable Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza into Israel.  We similarly reject the Israeli response as disproportionate and believe that it is likely to strengthen extremists and undermine moderates in the region. While we appreciate Secretary Rice’s statement of December 27 calling for an immediate cease-fire, there must now be prompt action by your Administration to help bring about an end to the violence.

It is not enough for the United States to urge “Israel to avoid civilian targets,” particularly in light of Israel’s stated intention to continue, expand, and intensify its current offensive.  If this spiraling violence continues, both Palestinians and Israelis will suffer and the risk of a broader confrontation will increase.  There can be no military solution to this conflict.  Only a political solution will bring a durable peace to both Palestinians and Israelis.

Violence against Gaza must stop immediately, WCC general secretary says

Statements may not be everything, but they are part of the bigger picture.  By now the ground forces are already on the move . . .

The statement reiterates previous WCC calls on “the government of Israel and Hamas to respect international humanitarian and human rights law,” and warns that in the present crisis the use of Israeli military ground forces “would deepen the current disaster”.

The statement criticizes “policies that rely on cutting off shipments of food, medicine and fuel for 1.5 million Gazans, and on sending rockets across borders at random or ‘surgically'”. As “a terrible period of deadlock and deprivation has now erupted into greater violence,” the statement says, “the tired logic of public officials blaming others while denying their own government’s responsibilities has led to the loss of many lives

Evangelical Leaders’ Letter to President Bush

An older letter in 2007 but not very well known.

We also write to correct a serious misperception among some people including some U.S. policymakers that all American evangelicals are opposed to a two-state solution and creation of a new Palestinian state that includes the vast majority of the West Bank. Nothing could be further from the truth.  We, who sign this letter, represent large numbers of  evangelicals throughout the U.S. who support justice for both Israelis and Palestinians. We hope this support will embolden you and your administration to proceed confidently and forthrightly in negotiations with both sides in the region.

As evangelical Christians, we embrace the biblical promise to Abraham: “I will bless those who bless you.” (Genesis 12:3). And precisely as evangelical Christians committed to the full teaching of the Scriptures, we know that blessing and loving people (including Jews and the present State of Israel) does not mean withholding criticism when it is warranted.  Genuine love and genuine blessing means acting in ways that promote the genuine and long-term well being of our neighbors. Perhaps the best way we can bless Israel is to encourage her to remember, as she deals with her neighbor Palestinians, the profound teaching on justice that the Hebrew prophets proclaimed so forcefully as an inestimably precious gift to the whole world.

Historical honesty compels us to recognize that both Israelis and Palestinians have legitimate rights stretching back for millennia to the lands of Israel/Palestine. Both Israelis and Palestinians have committed violence and injustice against each other. The only way to bring the tragic cycle of violence to an end is for Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate a just, lasting agreement that guarantees both sides viable, independent, secure states. To achieve that goal, both sides must give up some of their competing, incompatible claims. Israelis and Palestinians must both accept each other’s right to exist. And to achieve that goal, the U.S. must provide robust leadership within the Quartet to reconstitute the Middle East roadmap, whose full implementation would guarantee the security of the State of Israel and the viability of a Palestinian State.

The Jerusalem Sabeel Document: Principles for a Just Peace in Palestine-Israel

I found this to be a very helpful document for a broad framework coming from a Christian perspective.

Sabeel’s Statement on the New Realities in Palestine (after the elections of January 2006)

This provides some context which though is dated but helpful to see what was one response 2 years ago.

We need to bear in mind the following points as we anticipate the future.

  1. The Palestinian election was democratically conducted with hardly any infractions.  This fact is concrete proof of Palestinian commitment to democracy. 

  2. It is important to seek the end of all violence, beginning with the Israeli occupation.  If Hamas is going to be pressured to pursue the way of nonviolence, Israel must do the same.  

  3. Whether Hamas or Fatah is in government the Palestinian people still live under the oppressive Israeli occupation.  We appeal to all people of goodwill to use every nonviolent means to put pressure on Israel to end its occupation.

  4. The only way toward moderation on all sides is for the international community to pursue an even handed policy with both sides.  A double standard approach and the rush to stop foreign aid will only lead to disaster.

  5. Speaking at the press conference, after the elections, Khaled Mish’al, the head of the Political Council of Hamas, ended with the words, “Let us be humble before God and before our people.we will not commit injustice to anyone..”  It is Sabeel’s hope that Hamas really means these words and will seek a peaceful reconciliation between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

About Sivin Kit

man of one wife, father of four kids
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