Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Amman conference: Churches together for peace and justice in the Middle East

World Council of Churches - Update

For immediate release - June 19, 2007


Doing justice to the Palestinian people would bring about security for Israel, while delaying the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories feeds extremism and terrorism, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah told participants at a church conference for peace in the Middle East yesterday.

Convened by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and attended by over 130 participants representing churches and Christian organizations from six continents, the conference "Churches together for peace and justice in the Middle East" is being held 18-20 June in Amman, Jordan.

Speaking on behalf of the heads of churches in Jerusalem, Sabbah affirmed that "occupation means violence, Israeli and Palestinian, killing and hatred". According to him, while "justice must be done to the Palestinian people," it is "human dignity that must be restored to those who kill and to those who are killed". Both occupier and occupied, he said, "are in the wrong inhuman position of harming or being harmed". In both cases, they "need to be saved".

At the same session, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III described the features of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as "violence, aggression, hatred and bigotry, which produce unrest and insecurity". However, "the conflict and hatred can be turned into durable and just peace," he said. With this goal in mind, Theophilos affirmed "the great importance attached to the involvement of the churches of Christ from all over the world".

Those churches "are waking up" WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia said in the opening address of the conference. They "are impatient to see the end of the occupation and eager for real progress toward peace." And so they are called to "mobilize the larger ecumenical family around the imperative of a just peace".

For this to happen, the members of the ecumenical family need to overcome the "luxury of disunity" in which they have lived regarding the "root causes of the conflict" as well as the "kind of solidarity" that is required. "We must engage each other theologically and ethically," Kobia said, in addressing both the "real concerns about growing anti-Semitism" and the "urgent need to end the occupation".

In a time when bold prophetic witness and action are needed, the specific Christian contribution consists in "bringing spiritual, theological and ethical perspectives to bear on the conflict," Kobia said. While it is necessary to measure "all peace proposals against the precepts of biblical justice," today the "best approximation" to them appears to be "compliance with the relevant international laws".

Beyond "passive concern," churches are called to a "costly solidarity" with the Palestinian Christian community. "If Christians were to disappear as effective witnesses within Arab societies, their unique contribution towards open and democratic states would be lost."

The concern for the diminishing Christian community in Middle East was shared by Middle East Council of Churches general secretary Mr Guirguis Saleh. Christian migration from the region "is a serious issue, as it affects Christian presence in a significant way," Saleh told participants in his welcome address.

The Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum, which will be launched on the final day of the conference, aims to be a "new opportunity for coordination and collaboration," Kobia explained, as well as an "open, permanent and urgent invitation to the widest possible circle of ecumenical partners to move forward in new ways".

Media contacts in Amman:
Juan Michel +41-79-507-6363
Wafa Goussous +962-795-52-90-68

The text of Kobia's conference opening speech is available at:

See WCC press release of 12 June 2007 on Amman conference on "Churches
together for Peace with Justice in the Middle East" at: http://www.oikoumene.org/en/news/news-management/all-news-english/display-single-english-news/article/1637/churches-to-gather-for-in-1.html

More information on the WCC and Palestine/Israel is available at:

Website of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel
(EAPPI): http://www.eappi.org

This material may be reprinted freely.

Additional information: Juan Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 347 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, from the Methodist Church in Kenya. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sue Swartz: Shalom Ken! Kibush Lo!

From Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace - Board member Sue Swartz reports from the ground in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Hebron on last week's 40-year anti-occupation activities.

See this link for the full newsletter:

Shalom Ken! Kibush Lo!

Peace Yes! Occupation No!

Children want only to live... in Hebron and in Sderot!

The settlements are like a bone in our throat!

Enough of the settlements --we want 2 states for 2 peoples!

It is already hot in Hebron at 11 a.m. as 300 of us disembark from the comfortable bullet-proof buses which started out in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Be'er Sheva, buses which passed through the checkpoints outside Kiryat Arba and inside Hebron itself, and -- accompanied by IDF and police vehicles -- down one of the main thoroughfares of the city, past Palestinians gathered outside their small stores and auto repair shops, past young boys carrying containers of soup given out on Tuesdays, past Christian tourists in red baseball caps. The open space, normally a dirt parking lot, where we are to hold our demonstration quickly fills up with large banners and small hand-held posters, sound equipment, protestors in Peace Now t-shirts, reporters, and the familiar sound of chanting. Shalom Kein! Kibush Lo! It is my third event during this week of protest, although it is the first Peace Now rally pemitted in Hebron by the government for many years (and then, only by High Court order). I feel a bit like an old hand as things get underway, a bit like an outsider, and a bit like an activist just out to have fun.

On the ride to Hebron, I talked to Tzippora, a former Canadian who came to Israel 45 years ago as a young bride. She was eager to hear my American take on Israel and to give me her own opinions. As we drove through Hebron, Tzipporah, waving at the police and Palestinian residents with equal gusto, said "the Left is so pareve". Pareve -- kosher both for dairy and meat -- so well-behaved, she explained, so boring. Always doing the same old thing.

With all due respect, I must disagree. The first 10 days of June were a whir of anti-occupation activities, much of which was definitely not boring: a car convoy and bicycle parade, photo exhibitions and films, vigils and street theater, demonstrations, concerts, an academic conference, a daily cable TV show. The earthly laws of physics (i.e., not being able to be in 2 places at once) and other obligations made it impossible for me to see and do everything. And word limits makes it impossible for me to tell you everything I did do. What follows are highlights from those days, days which also saw much public discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as the 6-Day War and its 40-year aftermath. [Read more and see pictures at the link above.]

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom - http://www.btvshalom.org/

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Support Robust U.S. Diplomacy to Achieve Israeli-Palestinian Peace

Support Robust U.S. Diplomacy to Achieve Israeli-Palestinian Peace

June 13, 2007
From Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) www.cmep.org

An important new resolution in support of robust U.S. diplomacy to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace was introduced in the Senate last week. S. Res. 224 reaffirms the Senate's commitment to a "true and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the establishment of 2 states, the State of Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, with recognized borders." The resolution is co-sponsored by Sens. Feinstein (D-CA), Lugar (R-IN), Dodd (D-CT), Hagel (R-NE), Baucus (D-MT), Byrd (D-WV), Sununu (R-NH), Voinovich (R-OH) and Whitehouse (D-RI).

Noting that this past week was the 40th anniversary of the 1967 war and resulting occupation, S. Res. 224, which sees the anniversary as an occasion for all parties "to redouble their efforts to achieve peace," is a significant, positive Congressional initiative in support of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.

The resolution calls on President Bush to "pursue a robust diplomatic effort to engage the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, begin negotiations, and make a 2-state settlement a priority." It also "welcomes the Arab League Peace Initiative" and "calls on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to embrace efforts to achieve peace and refrain from taking any actions that would prejudice the outcome of final status negotiations."

Upon introducing the resolution Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) said, "A just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace agreement, is in the national interest of the United States and should be a top priority in the region." Sen. Lugar (D-IN) said, "This Resolution reaffirms the United States' commitment to achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians. On the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War, it is time to redouble our efforts to support the majority of Israelis and Palestinians who desire peace."

What's At Stake:

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Policy Base
The ELCA has called for continued U.S. leadership in support of a viable, contiguous, independent Palestinian state and a secure Israel. The ELCA has urged U.S. leaders to engage exert stronger diplomatic pressure to this end, called for an end to all forms of violence and call on the parties to take steps toward final status negotiations and refrain from actions that would prejudice such talks. A number of these actions were endorsed by Churchwide Assemblies and resolutions adopted by the Church Council and are included in the Churchwide Strategy for Engagement in Israel and Palestine adopted by the Church Council in April 2005.

For three generations Palestinian Christians and Muslims have suffered the loss of their land and dignity, disruption of their livelihood, and lack of human rights. Along with the Palestinians, Israeli Jews have suffered the fear and pain of ongoing warfare and insecurity. This land is sacred to three major monotheistic religions, whose adherents deserve safe and unfettered access. On the positive side, this common cause offers opportunities for collaboration. In terms of global politics, what happens in the Holy Land can either help resolve conflict in the Middle East or expand it into even more deadly conflicts.

As Churches for Middle East Peace notes, "The 22 Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches that comprise the CMEP coalition have long supported a two-state solution to the conflict with a secure Israel living side-by-side in peace with a viable Palestinian state and sharing Jerusalem. A lasting and durable solution to the conflict is in the best interest of the United States, Israel, the Palestinians and moderate forces throughout the Middle East." The ELCA has been an active participant in these efforts since CMEP's inception.

Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson has been an active member of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative which recently made strong appeals to Secretary Rice to make Middle East peace a priority, appoint a special envoy and take advantage of the re-launch of the Arab Peace Initiative to advance negotiations.

Further background and previous actions of the ELCA are available at http://www.elca.org/advocacy/issues/middleeast/default.asp

Send a letter to your Senators who aren't already cosponsoring S Res 224

Below is the sample letter:

Subject: Please co-sponsor S. Res. 224

Dear ... ,
As an American person of faith, I support robust U.S. engagement to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution with Israel living in peace and security alongside a viable and contiguous Palestinian state.

The resolution's emphasis on the need for all parties to work toward peace on the 40th anniversary of the 1967 War is an important message for Americans, Israelis, Palestinians and internationally. I appreciate the Senate's constructive, forward-looking approach, which will help move the peace process forward.

I agree that achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace could have significant positive impacts on security and stability in the Middle East. Vigorous and persistent U.S. engagement in the peace process is in the best interests of the United States, Israel, the Palestinians and the wider region.

I urge Congress to strengthen Secretary Rice's current diplomatic efforts and encourage sustained engagement on Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking by the United States. U.S. diplomacy together with moderate Arab states could help quell the current Israeli-Palestinian violence and open the door to negotiations with the Arab League Peace Initiative as a platform for dialogue.

Please co-sponsor S. Res. 224, the Feinstein/Lugar resolution which reaffirms the Senate's commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Churches will Gather to Launch a New Middle East Advocacy Forum

World Council of Churches - News Release

June 12, 2007

Churches to Gather for International Conference on Middle East Peace,
Launch of New Advocacy Forum

The World Council of Churches (WCC) is convening an international conference called "Churches together for Peace with Justice in the Middle East" in Jordan, 17-21 June. The event will address prospects for peace in Israel and Palestine and launch a new church advocacy forum.

At the meeting in Amman, Jordan, Middle Eastern church leaders will lay out their expectations for a just peace and their experiences of conflict, especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Speakers will include the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem and All Palestine Theophilos III, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah and other Middle Eastern church leaders.

The WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia will attend and open the conference. Some 130 participants from WCC member churches and related organizations in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas will take part.

After listening to the Middle Eastern experience, churches from other regions will share lessons learned during deeply rooted conflicts in their countries, including South Africa, Sudan, Colombia and Sri Lanka. The emphasis will be on the churches' role in peace-making and in sustaining peace when conflicts end.

The meeting will conclude with the launch of an international, inter-church advocacy initiative, the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum. The forum will enable churches around the world to cooperate more closely in advocacy for peace with justice in the Middle East, coordinating existing church advocacy work and promoting new joint efforts for peace. The initiative was approved by the WCC central committee in September last year. Two preparatory meeting have been held.

Holding the conference in Jordan allows a global church initiative with a Middle East focus to begin in close contact with the churches of the region.

The meeting takes place during a month when churches and related organizations around the world have been marking 40 years of Israeli occupation in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights.

Although their roots in the region go back to biblical times, WCC member churches in the Middle East increasingly link the future of Christian communities there to a just and sustainable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Concern within sister churches world-wide has also increased in the 59 years since member churches first put Arab-Israeli peace on the public policy agenda of the WCC in 1948.

See also our press release of 5 September 2006 on the WCC Central Committee decision approving the creation of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum

The WCC and Palestine-Israel

Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 347 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, from the Methodist Church in Kenya. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.

Contact: media@wcc-coe.org

Friday, June 15, 2007

United Nations organizations concerned about violence in Gaza

Joint Statement of United Nations organisations on the situation in Gaza

For detailed situation resports go to: www.ochaopt.org

For Immediate Release

Jerusalem, 13 June 2007- United Nations organisations working in the occupied Palestinian territory, are gravely concerned about the spiralling violence in the Gaza Strip, which has claimed 59 lives and caused 273 injuries since 9 June. This includes two UNRWA staff members who were killed today, one while on duty. UN organisations are particularly troubled by reports of attacks on hospitals, ambulances and extra-judicial killings, which raise concerns of serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

The UN is also concerned about the humanitarian consequences arising from the heavy street fighting which is preventing the civilian population from reaching essential health services and food outlets. The fighting is also hampering the UN’s ability to deliver emergency services, mainly food and health assistance. Militants have also engaged in gun battles inside two UNRWA facilities.

“There is a need for immediate efforts to restore calm, protect the lives of innocent Palestinians and ensure the safe and secure distribution of emergency aid,” said Kevin Kennedy, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the oPt. “The UN remains committed to continuing its humanitarian operations in the Gaza Strip so that Palestinians in need can continue to receive assistance. The ongoing violence is putting our operations at risk.” he added.

United Nations organisations call upon all parties engaged in the current hostilities to exercise their responsibilities under international humanitarian and human rights law and refrain from attacks on civilians, humanitarian institutions and carrying out extra-judicial killings.

At the same time, UN organisations call upon the Government of Israel and Palestinians to facilitate access to and from the Gaza Strip for humanitarian staff and relief supplies and ensure the continued operation of commercial and passenger crossing points.

For more information please contact
Juliette Touma, OCHA, 054-81555-46, 02-582-9962, toumaj@un.org
Allegra Pacheco, OCHA, 02-582-9962, pacheco6@un.org

English http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/Gaza_internalviolence_Final130607.pdf
Arabic http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/Arabic_Gaza_internalviolence_Final130607.pdf

Hebrew http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/Hebrew_Gaza_internalviolence_Final130607.pdf

United Nations Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Mac HouseP.O.Box 38712
Tel:++ 972-2-5829962/5853

Bishop Munib Younan: End the Violence

Statement by Bishop Dr. Munib Younan
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL)

June 15, 2007

We have been warning for some time now that the situation here in the Occupied Palestinian territories – especially Gaza - is untenable and explosive. I fear that unless we take drastic action, we will sink into all-out, protracted civil war that will dramatically fuel the fires of extremism, violence and chaos in the Middle East. This could further radicalize the whole Middle East and perhaps tip us over a turning point toward religious fanaticism that would be hard to change. So I speak today to urge leaders, combatants, ordinary people and the international community: for God's sake and the sake of all those suffering here from violence and oppression, stop the internal violence, end the international aid boycott and implement a serious plan to end the illegal, 40-year occupation of the Palestinian people.

The heads of local churches in Jerusalem issued a statement Wednesday, June 13, 2007, calling on all Palestinian brothers to put down their arms against one another and stop the violence immediately (see full text below). There is no justification for this violence, and it only damages the legitimate cause of the Palestinian people for self-determination, our own state and an end to occupation.

Sisters and brothers of Palestine, accept your responsibility to end all violence and return to the higher ground and aim of non-violent struggle to this illegal occupation. People of the Arab League, please step in and help us regain our balance.

Although a resolution to this conflict seems so unreachable, we already know the solutions: follow international law, UN resolutions and basic human rights law. Implement the two-state solution, based on the 1948 armistice line (the Green Line), which would lead to two equal, viable, sovereign states, each with Jerusalem as its capital, just resolution to the refugee problem, shared resources and ending the policy of settlements.

So as I sit in Jerusalem trying to analyze what is happening and why, I can't help but wonder. Why, instead of implementing the many relevant UN resolutions supporting these concepts (66 in all), has the international community ignored them all these years and continued to allow the confiscation of Palestinian land and building up almost 500,000 illegal settlers in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Why, if the West wants to foster democracy, did they reject the outcome of democratic elections held under occupation with little violence and boycott the new government? Why has the international community sat by and watched the longest occupation in history – 40 years – and then placed an unprecedented boycott on them, which amounts to sanctions against a captive people. How is this possible? Maybe it is time for deep self-evaluation for Palestinians, Israelis and the international community.

For this reason, from Jerusalem I call on international leaders of the world to wake up and see that some of their policies have had devastating negative effects on this conflict and, in fact, the whole Middle East. Realistically, what can one expect in Gaza when you lock 1.5 million people into a tiny patch of land 20 miles long by 5-10 miles wide, virtually seal the borders except for a small fraction of trade and then completely stop the already meager salaries? A recent OxFam study of families in Gaza showed that the average family in Gaza has an average debt of $1750, in a land where a school principle only earns about $6000 per year. And in the West Bank, what can we expect when you herd people into tiny enclaves, take away freedom of movement and allow continued violations of human rights to go on behind walls of concrete and barbed wire fences?

Leaders of the world, your complicity in allowing and supporting the illegal occupation and your unprecedented action in boycotting this occupied people have created a humanitarian, political and economic crisis that now threatens not only the people of Palestine, but also Israel and the whole region. The Arab and Muslim world see this conflict as the litmus test for how the West treats them, and until some justice and improvement on the ground occurs for Palestinians, it will continue to fuel the fires of fanaticism in the whole Middle East.

If you want to bring an end to the horrific violence in the Middle East and if you are concerned as I am by the rampant growth of religious extremism: please, I urge your from Jerusalem, get serious about implementing the two-state solution, begin immediate serious talks about these issues with all sides and end the illegal and immoral boycott and occupation.

If we truly want to end this deadly stalemate and build a modern, democratic civil society in Palestine living side by side in a just peace with Israel, let us use our resources to educate our children and not to buy weapons to oppress them. We in the ELCJHL continue to be committed to a just solution based on international law and to see education as the key in preparing the future leaders who can lead us from occupation to freedom, from fear to mutual trust and from violence to peace/salaam/shalom.

For more information about the churches, schools and ministries of the ELCJHL, see
For more information, please contact Rev. Julie Rowe at revjbr2003@yahoo.com
+972 (0)54 312 9015


An Urgent Call from the Heads of Churches to the members of Fateh and Hamas

On the recent 40th Anniversary of the Occupation we urged all sides to work for peace and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. How painful and awful then that now we have to say stop all domestic fighting.

The fighting has struck at the most vulnerable timing thus diverting International attention away from the National issue with its priorities and so disappointing the Palestinian people's hope of attaining independence together with freedom from Occupation with its related aspects.

This domestic fighting where the brother draws his weapon in the face of his brother is detrimental to all the aspirations of achieving security and stability for the Palestinian People.

In the name of the One and only God as well as in the name of each devastated Palestinian many of whom are still dying, we urge our brothers in Fateh and Hamas movements to listen to the voice of reason, truth and wisdom. So we implore that you immediately announce the cessation of all bloody fighting and to return back to the path of dialogue and attempt through understanding to solve all differences. In this urgent appeal we would draw attention to that which both parties have in common assuring them that it is greater that their differences. The national and land cause must be greater than any other consideration.

In this belief we urgently ask both movements to listen and put aside all weapons so concentrating on ending the Occupation in a peaceful manner based on National fundamentals and International legitimacy in order to achieve freedom for all the people together with an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its Capital.

June 14th , 2007

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Israel-Palestine on Record

Israel-Palestine on Record - How the New York Times Misreports Conflict in the Middle East, by Howard Friel and Richard Falk.

Published by Verso: http://www.versobooks.com/books/cdef/ef-titles/friel_falk_israel_palestine.shtml

Anyone studying how the media reports news from Palestine and Israel will be fascinated with this new book. It's also a great resource for those working in media advocacy, writing commentary, or compiling comparative media reports.

Chapters review the Times' presentation of reports from human rights organizations and news as it relates to international law. There is an excellent overview of British and Israeli news reporting compared to that of the New York Times.

An interesting side note: I didn't expect my local library to have this book, but I thought it would be available somewhere in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Instead my copy came through inter-library loan all the way from Little Rock, Ark.

The publisher, Verso, says:
In this scathing analysis of Israel-Palestine coverage in the US media, Howard Friel and Richard Falk reveal the persistent ways the New York Times has ignored principles of international law in order to shield its readers from Israel's lawlessness. While the Times publishes dozens of front-page stories and extensive commentary on the killings of Israelis, it publishes very few such stories on the killings of Palestinians, and mostly ignores the extensive documentation of massive violations of Palestinian human rights by the government of Israel. Furthermore, the Times regularly ignores or under-reports a multitude of critical legal issues pertaining to Israel's policies, including Israel's expropriation and settlement of Palestinian land, the two-tier system of laws based on national origin evocative of South Africa's apartheid regime, the demolition of Palestinian homes, and use of deadly force against Palestinians. These journalistic practices have not only shielded the extent of Israel's transgressions from the American electorate, which is Israel's main source of financial and military support, it has severely diminished our understanding of the Middle East and of US foreign policy in general.

Take a look at Israel-Palestine on Record: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&EAN=9781844671090&itm=9

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

LWF sees 40th Anniversary of Six-Day War as "Occasion to Revive Vision of Peace in Holy Land"

LUTHERAN WORLD INFORMATIONLWI news online: www.lutheranworld.org/News/Welcome.EN.html

40th Anniversary of Six-Day War: An Occasion to Revive Vision of Peace in Holy Land

Time for Members of House of Abraham to Recognize Each Other as Sisters, Brothers

GENEVA, 8 June 2007 (LWI) - The general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko, has called for revival of the vision of peace in the Holy Land and revitalization of the search for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In a statement on the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War and the occupation of the Palestinian territories he stresses "it is time for the members of the House of Abraham - Israeli and Palestinian; Jew, Muslim and Christian – to recognize each other as sisters and brothers, to refrain from instrumentalizing holy scriptures to achieve political goals, and to work together for peace in the Holy Land." Without peace with justice in the Holy Land, he says, there can be no true peace in the world.

The momentous events of the Six-Day War and the occupation of the Palestinian territories in 1967 fundamentally altered the modern history and politics of the Middle East, and continue to reverberate today, the general secretary explains. For this reason, the LWF Council at its meeting this year in Lund, Sweden, had noted the forthcoming 40th anniversary of the war, and had called for actions by the international community for an end to the occupation, and for the LWF member churches to join ecumenical coalitions for that purpose.

"The violence and suffering of occupation is a bitter legacy of Israel's military triumph 40 years ago," the general secretary continues, and brings misery and despair to entire communities, as well as entrenching displacement and dislocation. The military legacy of 1967 fuels the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and feeds resentment and tensions throughout the Middle East and beyond. "Its consequences for the unity of the global village are deep and pervasive. It drives a wedge between Jews and Muslims in the Holy Land and throughout the world. It threatens the future existence of an indigenous Christian presence in the land of Christ's birth," he states.

The occupation of the Palestinian territories is based on presumptions and ideologies that identify exclusively with one branch of the House of Abraham against the other, Dr Noko says. These ideologies, and the methods by which the occupation is maintained, undermine everything contained in the promise, whereby God gave the land to the children ofAbraham, and refute the authority by which the promise was made. The occupation entraps both the occupied and the occupier as well as all people of goodwill who yearn for peace in the Holy Land. After 40 years of being trapped, the time has come for release. "A release from occupation must be achieved for the sake of both peoples, for the dream of two states living side-by-side in peace to become a reality, and for the sake of peace in our global village," Dr Noko concludes.

-- -- --

The full text of the statement by LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko can be found at the Lutheran World Information web site: http://www.lutheranworld.org/News/LWI/EN/2050.EN.html

* * *

The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden, the LWF currently has 140 member churches in 78 countries all over the world, with a total membership of nearly 66.7 million. The LWF acts on behalf of its member churches in areas of common interest such as ecumenical and interfaith relations, theology, humanitarian assistance, human rights, communication, and the various aspects of mission and development work.Its secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland.)

[Lutheran World Information (LWI) is the LWF's information service.Unless specifically noted, material presented does not represent positions or opinions of the LWF or of its various units. Where the dateline of an article contains the notation (LWI), the material may be freely reproduced with acknowledgment.]

P.O. Box 2100
CH-1211 Geneva 2
Tel.: +41/22-791 63 69Fax: +41/22-791 66 30
Editor: pmu@lutheranworld.org

Pastor Russ Siler's farewell to Jerusalem

Pastor Russell Siler writes... From Jerusalem #39

9 June 2007

It is almost as if I am returning to school after a summer break, preparing to write the obligatory essay on what I did over my vacation. Save for the fact that this term stretched out for four years, it was truly a break — a world apart from that which most people in my home country experience on a daily basis. Here is a world in which one is not free to travel where one wishes. It is a place not of freedom, but of restrictions — not of liberty, but of oppression. As my wife Anne and I prepare to leave this land which has been our home these past few years, I wish that I could package this segment of our lives and make it available to you in such a way that you could see, feel, hear, smell, taste, and touch the things we have. Then you would be as overwhelmed by joy, sadness, elation, and despair as we are. But I cannot. All I believe I am capable of doing is telling you what I will miss and what I will not miss as we return to the United States.

I will miss the beautiful homes left to us from a magnificent past, with their arched windows and ornate porches and high ceilings. I will not miss the piles of rubble and rebar which mark demolished Palestinian homes — more than 15,000 of them since the Occupation began, most on the flimsiest of pretexts by the Israeli army or municipal authority — where I know lie crushed under each one a family's dream of a place of their own.

I will miss the magnificent countryside, littered with rocks and hills of every size and description, and the rugged landscapes that Abraham and Sarah, Hagar and Ishmael, Jesus, Peter, and Andrew hiked through. I will not miss the monstrous Wall, barbed wire fences, dirt mounds across unpaved village access roads, and ugly, prison-fortress-like crossings and terminals, ubiquitous in their barbarity. I won't miss them, because Israel presents them to you as dire necessities for their security, indeed, for their very survival, while we see the truth of Israel's reality which is to carve up Palestine into ever tinier clusters of humanity whose religious, cultural, societal ties are so slashed into disconnected ribbons that a nation is impossible.

I will miss ever so much the innocent smiles and playful giggles on the faces of the children — Israeli, Palestinian, international — all over the place. I will not miss the heaviness dragging on my heart like an anchor, as I realize how very soon that playful innocence will fall victim to fear and hatred, to bigotry and racism.

I will miss the steady stream of visitors — vacationers, pilgrims, seekers, tourists — that arrive like clockwork at our 9:00 am Sunday worship in St. John's Chapel. I will miss their delight at being in the Holy Land — many of them first-timers, but many more veterans of the land — their eagerness to meet Palestinian Christians whom, they soon learn, have been a vital presence here for the entire life of the Christian Church, and their openness to listen to narratives of the deadly conflict that the rest of the world seldom hears. I will not miss the busloads of tourists whose guide takes them to Bethlehem for a quick peek at the Church of the Nativity, then hurries them back to Jerusalem, because, "It's dangerous in the West Bank."

I will miss the witness of the courageous Israeli and Jewish women and men — Machsom Watch, Rabbis for Human Rights, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Women in Black, and all the others — as they tirelessly seek to stand in solidarity with people who seek justice and to educate those who wonder what unspeakable things are being done in the name of their beloved religion. I will not miss those coarse voices who violently insist — to the detriment of intelligent dialogue, discussion, disagreement, debate, or dissent — that any person who dares to criticize Israeli policy is either self-hating or anti-Semitic.

Perhaps, however, more than anything, I will miss the thousand times a week I hear ahlan wa salan — Welcome — singing out with genuine warmth from face after face of those who are desperately eager to let me know that, regardless of appearance, religion, or nationality, I am their brother. I have no doubt whatsoever that, were one of these persons to be down to his last piece of bread, he would beckon me closer and say, "Come, sit, eat!" What I will never miss are the questions spontaneously emerging from these same warm hearts, "Why does America treat us this way?" "Why do they help Israel oppress us and take our land?" "Will you please tell Mr. Bush that all we want is to be treated fairly; we only want justice." I will not miss these questions because I think they are harsh or prompted by bad intentions, but because I have no answers which will make a whit of difference to my sisters, to my brothers who are so baffled by the way our country treats them.

Some of you have asked what I will do when we return to the States. At this juncture I can only grin broadly and say "Retire!" We do know there are challenges and adventures awaiting us; we just don't know what or where or when. The only certainty in my mind — No. Make that in my heart — is that I will continue to speak up and to speak out. My friends here would understand if I did not. They would softly comfort me, "We know how hard it will be." The problem is that I will not be that easy on myself. I cannot see the tears in my brother's eyes without tasting the salty bitterness in my own mouth. And I cannot swallow the bitter taste; I must open my mouth and let it out!

Thank you for your faithful willingness to listen and for your constant support. They have been life-giving! Peace!

Russell O. Siler, Pastor
English-speaking Congregation
Lutheran Church of the Redeemer
Jerusalem, Old City

Sabeel Statement on 40 Years of Israeli Occupation

Sabeel's Statement on 40 Years
of the Israeli Occupation

[Sabeel is the Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem: http://www.sabeel.org]

How Long O Lord? - Enough is Enough!

O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and You will not hear?
Or cry out to You, "Violence!" and You will not save?

Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble?
For destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.
So the law is weakened and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous, so justice is perverted.
Look among the nations and see; wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.
(Habakkuk 1:2-5)

As the prophet so eloquently notes, strife and contention are evident everywhere as we mark 40 years of the Israeli Occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza. The brutal assault on Gaza continues unabated. Israel's army daily invades communities and kidnaps and kills Palestinians in the West Bank. The spreading violence is now destroying the stability of Lebanon. The breakdown in civil society in these besieged areas has reached a very dangerous level. Palestinian Christians and Muslims who have been working for many years to preserve and maintain a level of non-violent resistance have seen their work turn to ashes over and over again, and yet they courageously continue their efforts. However, the level of fatigue and discouragement is higher than it has ever been.

The reasons for the current feelings are clear. The Israeli government and the Israeli army are implementing a long term strategy to destroy the infrastructure of the Palestinian government, economy, and civil society. Each day new regulations, policies, and actions rob the people - people who are not at all related to any militant group - of their dignity, their livelihood and their future. The civil strife and the violent clashes among political parties, families, and gangs in Gaza and the West Bank can be traced to the effects of the long-lasting Occupation. We can never condone violence. We can never condone self-destruction no matter how dire the situation, but we can seek to examine and understand it.

The illegal 1967 Occupation of the 22% of mandate Palestine remaining after the Nakba of 1948 and the systematic plan to confiscate and control even the fragments remaining to Palestinians have left not only the Palestinians, but also the world, vulnerable to even greater disasters. When any nation or group is allowed to flout safeguards of international law, humanitarian law, and the Fourth Geneva Convention, along with basic moral standards, the whole of humankind is in grave danger. Yet, the Israeli government and its Zionist architects have been given a green light over the past 40 years of Occupation. The methods they have developed - targeted assassinations, imprisonment without trial, starving and collectively punishing whole populations - are now part of common practice and openly advocated and accepted in many places in the world. Such practices after World War II were seen as totally unacceptable yet these atrocities occur daily in the occupied areas of Palestine with little international reaction. The rules of civil society are being ignored and chaos reigns, most obviously in Gaza but also increasingly in the West Bank. Hopelessness and despair increase. When there is nothing to lose, some will strike out as we have seen recently in many places.

Most Israelis continue to live in fear and to act out of fear, not least because of the ongoing illegal Occupation. Through the past 40 years, they have failed to learn two lessons:

· First, brutal military measures do not work. Militarism never works because the human spirit and the quest for freedom cannot be destroyed. The evil of seeking to steal the dignity of the other simply magnifies the desire to resist.
· Second, to dehumanize the other is to dehumanize the self. The basic quest to be fully human lies within all of God's children. To put others down in order to be powerful and controlling and to use others as scapegoats to cover one's own inadequacy is self-defeating and self-destructive. The soul of the Israeli people is at stake in this treacherous battle of will and spirit. When common humanity is forsaken, evil prevails.

Understanding violence does not mean condoning violence. Sabeel continues to work, pray and advocate for non-violent responses to the Occupation. The only safe and secure way out of the current pit is justice. Justice and only justice. Justice is served when the dignity of every human being is honored and respected. Justice is served when love motivates and heals those who need justice and those who must in the last analysis give justice. Much progress will be made when the people of Israel return to their own values, values that have been battered and distorted by the Zionist agenda and the facts of Occupation. Progress will be made when Palestinians are relieved of the hate that so easily builds up under the oppression of Occupation and are thus freed to respond in love to those who acknowledge their shared existence as children of God. There are many layers to peel before the common humanity of all can be celebrated.

Although we are walking in the darkness of Occupation now, we know that the light of Christ will shine one day. We know that the truth will bring freedom and that one day Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs, will walk hand in hand toward the light of God's justice. But now we ask that all our friends pray, work, and speak against the Occupation and the injustice that rule every aspect of our lives. Silence allows evil to prosper.

Jesus said, "I tell you that if these are silent, the stones will cry out! (Luke 19:40)

The Rev. Robert Tobin, Acting Director
Sabeel, Jerusalem
June, 2007

Robert W. Tobin
Acting Director
Sabeel Jerusalem
972 2 532 7136
054 221 9257401
354 2848 (direct to cell from U.S.)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Initiative delegation meets with Burns; peace reaffirmed as churches mark 1967 anniversary

An Initiative delegation led by His Eminence, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, met with Under Secretary for Political Affairs, R. Nicholas Burns, on May 17. Following up, the Episcopal Church noted the 40th anniversary of the 1967 war last week. Here is news coverage from Episcopal Life Online - http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_86641_ENG_HTM.htm

Peace in Israel/Palestine reaffirmed as Church marks 40th anniversary of 1967 war --

June 06, 2007 [Episcopal News Service]

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the 1967 war between Israel and the Arab States, after which the Israeli occupation of the West Bank (which includes East Jerusalem), Gaza, and the Golan Heights began.

Throughout the last 40 years, the Episcopal Church has joined the call to end the occupation and the ensuing conflict which has brought pain and suffering to all who live in the region.

Bishop Christopher Epting, Ecumenical and Interfaith deputy for the Episcopal Church, highlighted a statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbis of Israel made last year, which noted: "The Holy Land and its people, Jewish, Christian and Muslim, continue to suffer all forms of violence and its consequences. Terrorism remains rife. Governments and political and religious movements deny the very right to existence of the State of Israel. There is no agreement on the rights of the Palestinian people and the means to mutual wellbeing and flourishing."

The Episcopal Church has strongly supported the rightful existence and recognition of both the State of Israel and a future Palestinian State.

The Rev. Canon Brian Grieves, director of Peace and Justice Ministries for the Episcopal Church, told Episcopal News Service that the anniversary of the six-day war and the beginning of the occupation "affords us the chance to reiterate the Episcopal Church's long-term advocacy for a two-State solution, with Jerusalem serving as the capital of both, each secure and sovereign. This would afford the best chance for peace in the region, and make not just a more secure Middle East, but a more secure world."

Grieves noted the Episcopal Church's support of the Christian, Jewish, Muslim National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace (NILI) in the Middle East.

Following up on a January meeting (http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_82642_ENG_HTM.htm) when Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori joined Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders from NILI in a meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, an Initiative delegation led by His Eminence, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, met with Under Secretary for Political Affairs, R. Nicholas Burns, on May 17. They expressed strong support for Secretary Rice's commitment to making Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace a top priority for the remaining two years of the Administration.

The delegation stated their belief that active, fair and firm U.S. leadership for peace, in coordination with the Quartet (EU, Russia, U.N. and U.S.), is essential at this time, not only for the sake of Israelis and Palestinians, but also because progress toward peace in Jerusalem would help restore U.S. credibility, encourage regional stability and reduce support for extremism. (A full copy of the letter follows.)

The U.S. religious leaders told Burns that the current, "very dangerous" situation on the ground, makes it all the more important that the United States work urgently for a comprehensive ceasefire in Gaza and the West Bank to halt both intra-Palestinian and Palestinian-Israeli violence.

The inter-religious delegation urged direct U.S. talks with Syria and Israel to help restart Syrian-Israeli negotiations for peace.

Maureen Shea, director of Government Relations for the Episcopal Church and chair of the Churches for Middle East Peace board, reiterated the Episcopal Church's position. "Two things are clear. In order for there to be peace in the Middle East, the U.S. must fully and consistently engage in final status negotiations and the end result must be a secure Israel living alongside a viable and contiguous Palestinian state with both sharing the city of Jerusalem."

--- --- ---

Full text of Cardinal McCarrick's letter to Burns:
May 31, 2007

The Honorable R. Nicholas Burns
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
U.S. Department of State2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Under Secretary Burns,

I am writing on behalf of leaders of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace to thank you for meeting with our delegation on Thursday, May 17. (A list of the participants who represented our delegation at that meeting is enclosed together with the list of the total membership for your ready access.) We look forward to our next meeting to continue the dialogue begun in our January meeting with Secretary of State Rice concerning the U.S. role in pursuit of Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace and how we can be helpful.

As we have said in our meetings with Secretary Rice and with you, the thirty-five leaders of the National Interreligious Initiative, including heads of twenty-five national organizations, are united in support of the decision by the United States to make Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace an urgent, top priority of U.S. policy in the Middle East. We believe active, fair and firm U.S. leadership for peace, in coordination with the Quartet, is essential not only for the sake of Israelis and Palestinians, but also because progress toward peace in Jerusalem would help
restore U.S. credibility, encourage regional stability and reduce support for extremism.

Believing that U.S. leadership is essential for progress toward peace and appreciating the opportunity for this ongoing dialogue with Secretary Rice and you, we wish to reiterate the concerns that we raised in our meeting on May 17.

We are deeply troubled by the current deterioration in the situation on the ground, including renewed intra-Palestinian violence, continued Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel, and Israeli counter attacks. While these developments pose new challenges, we believe this very dangerous situation makes it all the more important that the United States work urgently for an effective, comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire in Gaza and the West Bank. A comprehensive ceasefire would require halting both intra-Palestinian and Palestinian-Israeli violence. A ceasefire would relieve suffering and reduce fears of people on all sides, and would help create a context in which other essential steps, including more effective security coordination, release of Corporal Shalit and Palestinian prisoners, a halt to expansion of settlements and a reduction in military checkpoints would be more possible.

We share your view that the Saudi-led Arab Peace Initiative represents a very important positive development. We believe that the United States should engage actively in encouraging concrete steps by the Arab states and by Israel to help the Arab Initiative become a bridge to building an effective peace process for comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace. In this context and appreciating that Secretary Rice recently met with the Syrian Foreign Minister about Iraq, we urge U.S. diplomatic efforts with Syria and Israel concerning the possibility of restarting Syrian-Israeli negotiations for peace.

We appreciate and support Secretary Rice's pledge to travel to the region regularly to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders as a tangible expression of her personal commitment and priority to help restart negotiations for a two-state solution. At some point, as we discussed with you, in addition to Secretary Rice's regular visits and General Dayton's role as "Security Coordinator," we believe it would be helpful for a fulltime special envoy to be appointed to focus on the pursuit of comprehensive peace and represent the Secretary and the President on the ground continuously to press for and monitor commitments by both sides.

As American religious leaders committed to supporting U.S. efforts for peace, we also are aware that religious leaders on the ground in the region have a compelling faith-based interest to help support and sustain an effective peace process. Many of these leaders are participants in the Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land. We hope Secretary Rice would be willing to meet with members of the Council on a future trip to the region and/or when members of the Council plan to visit Washington, DC the week of
November 5-9.

In our meeting with Secretary Rice in January she shared her view that there should be informal talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders about principles and ideas, such as those in the unofficial Geneva Accord, for possible compromise solutions that could resolve final status issues, including borders and security, settlements, refugees and Jerusalem. We hope, despite the current negative developments, that this process of informal talks about ideas for resolving final status issues is being pursued, and we commit ourselves to building public awareness and support for these ideas in our communities.

Again, we wish to thank you and Secretary Rice for your commitment to pursue Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace as a top, urgent priority and for your invitation to leaders of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative to participate in ongoing dialogue. Dr. Stephen Colecchi will be in touch with your office about a possible date in July or August.

With every good wish, I am

Very cordially yours,

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick
Archbishop Emeritus of Washington

National Interreligious Leadership Delegation
May 17, 2007

Christian Leaders
His Eminence Cardinal Theodore McCarrick
Archbishop Emeritus of Washington

Archbishop Aykazian Vicken, Director, Ecumenical Office
Armenian Apostolic Church in America

Maureen Shea, Director of Government Relations
The Episcopal Church
(for Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori)

Dennis W. Frado, Lutheran Office for World Community
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
(for Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson)

Catherine Gordon, Associate for International Policy
Presbyterian Church (USA)
(for Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk)

Jewish Leaders
Rabbi David S. Saperstein, Director
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Dr. Richard Lederman, Director, Public Policy
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
(for Rabbi Jerome M. Epstein, Executive Vice President)

Rabbi Amy Small, Past President
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association

Muslim Leaders
Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, National Director
Islamic Society of North America

Imam Yahya Hendi, Muslim Chaplain
Georgetown University

Dr. Stephen Colecchi, Director, International Justice and Peace
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Ronald J. Young, Consultant
National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East

Friday, June 8, 2007

House resolution generates positive remarks on peacemaking & Jerusalem

Churches for Middle East Peace provides this report on
passage of H. Con. Res. 152.

Resolution Generates Positive Remarks on Peacemaking & Jerusalem

This email is also available online at: www.cmep.org/Alerts/2007June7.htm

Julie Schumacher Cohen, Legislative Coordinator
June 7, 2007

The passage on Tuesday of H. Con. Res. 152 (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:HC00152:@@@L&summ2=m), a non-binding resolution commemorating the "40th anniversary of the Six Day War and the reunification of the city of Jerusalem," was not marked by the usual overwhelming yeah votes.

Instead, the resolution passed by voice vote, with no roll call vote taken and only four additional co-sponsors added to make the final total a meager fourteen. It is not yet clear why the vote took place in this way-it may reflect a lack of confidence in the outcome of such a vote and Congressional weariness with resolutions like these that do not help move the peace process forward and undermine U.S. diplomatic efforts. Keep in mind that H. Con. Res. 152 is virtually identical to resolutions passed by Congress in 1997 and other years and is primarily symbolic. (President Bush waived the provisions of the Jerusalem Embassy Act on Friday, June 1st, only four days prior to the House vote, just as he and Pres. Clinton before him have always done.)

Several Members made excellent remarks for the record, marking the first constructive Congressional debate on the issue of Jerusalem. Rep. David Price (D-NC) concluded his remarks with a remarkable statement on the need for Jerusalem to be shared: "It is my great hope to one day visit a revitalized Jerusalem, undivided and shared as the capital of Israel and an independent Palestinian state, where Jews, Muslims, and Christians live together in peace and mutually honor the sites sacred to all of us. I can only wish that the resolution before us more adequately expressed this aspiration." The statements by Reps. Price (D-NC), Blumenauer (D-OR), Capps (D-CA) and Farr (D-CA) are included below.

The debate can be viewed in full on the THOMAS Congressional website - http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/R?r110:FLD001:H05948. If your Representative is among those who made a positive statement, please send them a note thanking them for their efforts.

In the Senate, a resolution similar to H. Con. Res. 152 has been expected. So far, it has not been introduced, but it is still possible. A positive resolution in support of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking is expected to be introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) today (more details to come).


For more see the Churches for Middle East Peace web site: http://www.cmep.org/

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The World Says No to Israeli Occupation

Join Sabeel and thousands of others in Washington DC for this massive rally, teach-in, and grassroots lobby day. Help carry the Sabeel banner! Sabeel supporters from all over the U.S. will gather in DC to join with thousands of others to raise their voices for justice and peace.

Meeting place for Sabeel supporters - Sunday, June 10, we will meet at 1:00 PM in front of the National Gallery of Art, East Building, on 4th Street just south of Pennsylvania Avenue. We will be gathering with WIAMEP (Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace).

The rally will take place on Sunday, June 10, 2:00 to 4:00 PM on the West Lawn of the Capitol, and will be followed by a march from Capitol Hill to the Ellipse.

The World Says No to Israeli Occupation!
June 10-11 Mobilization in Washington, DC

On June 10-11, 2007, the US Campaign and United for Peace and Justice are sponsoring a two-day mobilization in Washington, DC to protest the 40th anniversary of Israel's illegal military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip. Under the banner, "The World Says No to Israeli Occupation", the US Campaign and UFPJ will hold a massive rally, teach-in, and grassroots lobbying day.

For complete information on logistics, events, transportation, etc., go to the U.S. Campaign website: www.endtheoccupation.org

Friends of Sabeel-North America
(503) 653-6625

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Forty Years: Enough is Enough!

From the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jerusalem and the Holy Land - http://www.holyland-lutherans.org/

Salaam and grace to you from Jerusalem, City of Peace
May 2007

Forty Years: Enough is Enough!

In 1967, Bishop Younan was 17 years old, living in St. John's convent, just a stone's throw from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem. He had just come back from finishing studies at the Lutheran boarding school in Beit Jala. That day in June, at 11 am, they heard shooting. All 15 families who lived there crowded into the dark basement of the church. They huddled together for days there, frightened and terrorized by all the shooting and shelling. When the shooting died down, the Israelis brought buses to Jaffa Gate to take people away to Jordan, and many left. But his father was adamant. He said, "In 1948, we moved, and we were never allowed back. This time, whatever happens, I will not leave Jerusalem."

Everyone believed that the occupation would be short-lived; no one would have imagined that we would still find ourselves under the heavy hand of occupation 40 years later. No one would have imagined that this single reality would shape our everyday reality so completely 40 years later, determining where we are allowed to go, whom we are allowed to marry, whether we can build a house or keep our land, or even if a family member might disappear into Israeli prisons without notice or be injured or killed by tanks and shooting. We emphasize that no violence is justified on any side, and we speak out constantly against violence no matter the perpetrator. We denounce the recent escalation of infighting and rocket attacks, as we do the ongoing Israeli incursions and extrajudicial assassinations. But unless we resolve the root problem - the desperate and hopeless conditions created by military occupation that breed violence and revenge – we will simply remain trapped in this endless cycle.

There is something in human nature that will always refuse and rise up against occupation, and eventually justice will win and the occupation will end. That doesn't mean all violence will immediately cease, but that we will finally be on the only path that will lead to a lasting peace: the path of justice, freedom and equal human rights for all. It will also mean we will stop handing over full control of the peace process to the extremists who can stop it at will with one horrendous act by a few desperate people or by destructive infighting by factions. More and more people are recognizing that this is the core issue of the conflicts in the Middle East, and that dealing justly with this situation is the only way to take the oxygen out of the fires of extremism and terrorism. The recent eruption of violence in the Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon is yet another example of the extremism and violence that fester and grow when people are locked up with no hope, no future and no where to go. Sisters and brothers, and partners all over the world, thank you for working with us to end this illegal occupation, for it will liberate both Israelis and Palestinians from being held hostage to fear, violence and oppression.

Suggestions for Marking the Significance of 40 Years

Devote a Sunday or special event to explore the realities of Palestinian Christians. There are many video and website resources as well as speakers available to help with this. Contact your national church group, visit our website www.holyland-lutherans.org or Rev. Julie Rowe of the ELCJHL at revjbr2003@yahoo.com.

One good model that has proved effective is a Friday-night and Saturday introduction to the people and the realities of Palestinian Christians and this conflict. One part of this was a teleconference with a Palestinian Christian here, Bishop Younan one time and Schools' Director Dr. Charlie Haddad another, with an Israeli peace activist to answer questions about the situation. Participants have said it was very helpful. For more information about this, contact the Rev. Ann Helmke of the San Antonio peaceCENTER (annhelmke@justice.net). Other websites and items of note:

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has designated June 3-9, 2007 as a week of “International Church Action for Peace in Palestine and Israel [ http://www.icappi.org.au/ME111E06.pdf ]

The WCC is also launching an international, inter-church advocacy initiative for peace in Israel and Palestine - the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum - at a conference June 17-21, 2007, in Jordan.http://www.oikoumene.org/en/news/news-management/all-news-english/display-single- english-news/article/1637/work-begins-on-an-interna.html ]

WCC Israel-Palestine page http://wcc-coe.org/wcc/what/international/regconcerns-palestine-israel.html

June 5 Initiative of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information http://www.june5thinitiative.org/

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Christian Zionism featured in the "Journal of Lutheran Ethics"

The on-line "Journal of Lutheran Ethics" dedicated its May 2007 edition to discussion of Christian Zionism.

Find the entire publication at this link: http://www.elca.org/jle

From the introduction: "In our time, when the Israeli/Palestinian conflict occupies such a prominent place in our political discourse, the topic of Christian Zionism has become a critical matter for theological and ethical deliberation. In this issue, the Journal of Lutheran Ethics is pleased to provide a contribution to this important discussion."

The contents:
Edward Schneider:
Introduction to Christian Zionism Issue
Robert O. Smith:
Jewish- Christian Difficulties in Challenging Christian Zionism
JoAnn G. Magnuson:
Christian Zionism
Bishop Munib Younan:
An Ethical Critique of Christian Zionism
John Hubers:
Palestinians, Christian Zionists and the Good News Gospel
Peter A. Pettit:
Christian Zionism from a Perspective of Jewish-Christian Relations

The Journal of Lutheran Ethics is a publication of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Church in Society unit: http://www.elca.org/churchinsociety

A Reading and Discussion Guide for "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid"

President Jimmy Carter's book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" has been an important contribution to the discussion of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the United States.

A guide has been developed by the American Friends Service Committee's Middle East Peacebuilding Program. This 8-page guide is intended to facilitate discussion of President Carter's book by book groups, social action groups, classes, and other interested parties.

For detailed information, links to AFSC fact sheets, and to download the discussion guide, go to http://www.afsc.org/carter-discussion

The link to the discussion guide in pdf form is: http://www.afsc.org/israel-palestine/documents/palestinepeacenotapartheid.pdf