Monday, June 29, 2009

New Hope for Peace: What America Must Do to End the Israel-Palestine Conflict

I am always impressed by the video resources put out by Landrum Bolling and the Foundation for Middle East Peace. While this one is mostly "talking heads," these are very smart heads. It's free and it's only 20 minutes long, which is a real plus for me as a teacher and presenter.

"New Hope For Peace: What America Must Do To End the Israel-Palestine Conflict"
Four American Statesmen Speak Out in a New DVD
Presented by Landrum Bolling

Four American statesmen, Jimmy Carter, James Baker, Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be resolved with a comprehensive U.S. presidential initiative.

Speaking as President Obama's diplomacy is unfolding, the four leaders say the time is right for a new U.S. initiative in New Hope for Peace. This 20-minute DVD is presented by Landrum Bolling with cooperation from the Foundation for Middle East Peace ( and Mercy Corps International.

Drawing on their long experience, the four statesmen explain that solutions that would meet the basic needs of Israelis and Palestinians are well known and that both want peace but have been thwarted by hard-line minorities. They believe that strong U.S. presidential leadership can help bring a two-state peace through a comprehensive peace plan and sustained mediation. They predict that the international community would welcome and support such a U.S. initiative.

The overwhelming majority of Israelis and Palestinians want peace... The President should make his policies clear on settlements, home demolitions, Israel security, and East Jerusalem ... Jimmy Carter

The vast majority of the Israelis are tired of being a nation perpetually at war...they want to see a secure peace agreement, and so do the Palestinians... Hard liners on both sides are the biggest obstacles to peace...You have to talk to your enemies ... James Baker

We must play a more active role...We need to act decisively and comprehensively...The President needs to step up and say "this is the American proposal." will turn around the psychological atmosphere in the Middle East. Brent Scowcroft

Two decent peoples are locked in a mortal embrace...they cannot move toward peace unless someone helps... It takes an impartial, energetic outside mediator... there is only one candidate...the U.S., and more specifically the President. Zbigniew Brzezinski

Preview New Hope for Peace on YouTube -

Copies are available on request from the Foundation for Middle East Peace.
202-835-3650, 1761 N Street, NW, Washington DC 20036,

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Church leaders of Jerusalem welcomed President Carter

I came across a June 17 news story from the news service of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem detailing President Jimmy Carter's meeting with Jerusalem church leaders.

President Carter Meets with Jerusalem Church Leaders and is deeply touched by their Commitment to Peace, Reconciliation and Interfaith Harmony -

Wednesday, 17 June 2009 13:36
Communications and Public Relations Office
The Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem

Former President Jimmy Carter on a Peace Mission to the Middle East met in Jerusalem on Saturday June 13th, at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in the Old City with a group of Church Leaders from the Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land, and a core group from the World Council of Churches (WCC Geneva, Switzerland) Palestine and Israel Ecumenical Forum. The core group was locally led by Mr. Yusef Daher, the Inter Church Center Executive, and the Rev'd Canon Naim Ateek, the SABEEL Director, both of Jerusalem.

The meeting with Christian leaders "was the suggestion" said Mr. Daher "of the Right Rev'd Suheil S. Dawani, the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, and coincided with the WCC Core Group's visit to the region". Bishop Dawani, had recently participated in a Carter Center conference in Atlanta, Georgia, of Christian Leaders in America hosted by President Carter on May 14th - 15th the signature theme of "Towards a New Christian Consensus: Peace with Justice in the Holy Land".

In Jerusalem, President Carter was hosted for the meeting at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in the Old City by His Beatitude Theophilos III who welcomed the former U. S. President and Noble Peace Laureate to the "Mother Church" that "embraces all initiatives that call for peace and justice in the world generally, and in our beloved Middle East Specifically" and went on to say in speaking for his colleagues and in recognition of the Carter initiatives," we firmly believe, now exists the possibility for the conflict and hatred to be turned into durable and justice (sic) peace".

Bishop Dawani in his comments stressed the need to stem the outflow of Christians leaving their historic homeland through emigration and the consequent loss of the moderating balance that Christian community has traditionally provided over the centuries. Today, the Bishop stressed, "the Christian community seeks to focus its renewed energies and resources on housing, Healthcare, Education and Social Service Institutions, all of which need governmental, NGO and interagency developmental support as that of U.S. AID" and towards this, the Bishops added "these institutions are a natural grass roots presence, and in their non-sectarian services, promote respect for other people's convictions, uphold interfaith dialogue and seek communal harmony - and we all warmly welcome your (Carter) initiatives for peace in the region."

President Carter responded in reaffirming his commitment to that important task, of Peace, reconciliation and expressed his rising hopes for this in what he saw in President Obama's statement in Cairo. He spoke well of his meetings in Lebanon with several Leaders of different faiths during the recent national legislative elections there, and of his prayerful hope for the coming week's meetings in Gaza. The President also expressed his understanding of and encouragement for the role that the historic Christian Community can and does play in Peace initiatives and interfaith harmony.

Canon Naim Ateek commended the President for his affirmation of democracy by his presence at national country elections in regions of conflict. In this process of democratization in governance, there needs to be a built-in Dr. Ateek stressed, of a shared respect for both the political aspirations as well as the religious convictions of minorities in the electorate, and especially where Christians find themselves in sensitive minority placement among the three Faiths.

As President Carter was leaving, the Patriarch asked the group to join him for "a pleasingly special and memorable sight" on the Veranda with its magnificent vista of the Old City. In the twilight of that day, he pointed to the picturesque historic interfaith presence in three Holy Shrines symbolized by the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Minaret of the Mosque of Omar, and the rebuilt Dome of the Old City's Synagogue in the ancient Jewish Quarter - almost touching each other - three Abrahamic communities living faithfully - "what had been, what should be now, and our hope for the bright future".

With the President, himself a devout evangelical Churchman who teaches Sunday School in his small Baptist Church congregation in Plains, Georgia "40 Sundays of the Year", and deeply touched by the physical sight in this admixture of the three collegial Faiths, Lutheran Bishop Munib Younan then pointed to a fourth building on the horizon, the late 19th Century majestic white Bell Tower of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.

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Here's another story that came out of World Week for Peace in Palestine-Israel, "Change in the Air on Israel/Palestine, say Global Churches -

Change is in the air as churches in many parts of the world hold a "World Week for Peace in Palestine-Israel" which began on 4 June 2009, say organisers and participants. New voices are advocating steps toward peace which churches have been promoting for years.

"It's time for us to act on what everyone knows is true," US President Barack Obama said in his address to the Muslim world from Cairo, 4 June 2009, in the section specifically dealing with the Israel-Palestine conflict.

"It's time for Israelis and Palestinians to share a just peace," says the message that churches have been using for the World Council of Churches-led action week, 4-10 June 2009.

To begin the week in Bethlehem, local participants projected prayers for peace onto the 'separation wall' at night. As the week goes on, prayers are being read aloud at checkpoints, in schools and in refugee camps.

"There is really no situation that is intractable – none," said Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate and retired Anglican Archbishop of Capetown in a speech at the Ecumenical Institute in Bossey near Geneva, Switzerland, on Sunday 7 June.

"Each [situation] is capable of being resolved, even this one that seemed so utterly intractable," he added, comparing the Palestine - Israel conflict to the seemingly deadlocked situation in South Africa before the downfall of apartheid.

Meanwhile, in at least seven of the participating countries, church delegations have arranged to meet government officials to urge concrete steps toward peace now.

"It's time for people who have been refugees for 60 years to regain their rights and a permanent home," the churches' action week message says. For 60 years "the Palestinian people, Christian and Muslim…have endured the pain of dislocation", the US president said in Cairo.

In Manila, the Philippines, Christian and Muslim groups came together on 5 June to pray, to demonstrate peacefully at the Israeli embassy and to hold a candle-light vigil for peace.

"It's time to assist settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to make their home in Israel," say WCC member churches and others who join the week. "It is time for these settlements to stop," said President Obama.

People and parishes in the European Union can get help in engaging local retailers about settlement products and lobbying their governments by using an advocacy paper on settlement products that was issued especially for this "World Week for Peace".

"All of us have a responsibility to work for the day…when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims," said the US president in Cairo. "It's time to share Jerusalem as the capital of two nations and a city holy to three religions," say the churches.

A public seminar in Norway tackled the topic of "Promised Land" as part of the action week. The 5 June event featured a pastor and author whose understanding had changed after a visit to the conflict zone.

"It's time to learn from past wrongs," says the World Week message. "It's time for equal rights. It's time to stop discrimination, segregation and restrictions on movement," it adds.

In Scotland, parliamentarians reported to church and civil society leaders on solidarity visits to people in Gaza – one of several events in the week of action which took place there.

Two church groups in the UK visited a local Israeli-owned company which makes engines for drones used against Gaza. Then they prayed at a local church.

"Violence is a dead end," said the US president.

"It's time to be revolted by violence," say the churches, "and for civilians on both sides to be safe."

Sunday, 7 June, is the focal point of "World Week for Peace in Palestine-Israel" for many participants. An ecumenical service in East Jerusalem and services in dozens of countries used a prayer from Jerusalem's church leaders. Many parishes worshipped with a special liturgy from Ireland which included testimonies from young Israelis and Palestinians.

Participants with access to the internet are invited to send prayers to Bethlehem for "World Week" and to use the prayers collected there in Spanish, German and Italian – now and in the future.

Now in its fourth year, the action week is organized by and offered to Protestant, Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches and related ministries. Pax Christi International is the bridge to people working for peace in the Catholic Church.

The goal is to pray, educate or advocate for a just peace in Israel-Palestine during one week in June. From Kenya to Canada, the UK, the US, Australia and Austria, individuals, congregations and organizations in some 40 countries are taking part in one or more of the suggested activities, judging from information received by WCC.

More on the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel:

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To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, go the the blog: A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace,

Friday, June 5, 2009

Tell President Obama: Christians Support Bold Action for Holy Land Peace

Tell Obama: Christians Support Bold Action for Holy Land Peace

Join Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson and other major Christian leaders from Catholic, Evangelical, Protestant, Orthodox and historic African American traditions who have come together at this critical moment to declare their support for bold U.S. action to achieve a just and lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians -

In a letter released on June 4, immediately following President Obama’s speech in Cairo, more than 50 Christian leaders commended the President’s message to the people of the Middle East and his strong commitment to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issue. They wrote, “As you embark on peace efforts, we ask you to provide a clear framework for an end to the conflict, help Israelis and Palestinians make the difficult decisions necessary to achieve lasting peace, and hold both parties to account when they fail to honor their commitments.”

The leaders promised on-going engagement, declaring, “We...are rallying Christians nationwide around robust U.S. peacemaking efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace.”

In his Cairo speech, President Obama pledged to “personally pursue” the goal of two states living in peace and security, saying it was time for all of us to work for the day when the “Holy Land of three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims.”

Let President Obama know that you and Christians nationwide support bold, immediate American leadership.

Peace between Israel and the Palestinians will require the strong and helping hand of the United States. Supporters of the status quo will discourage strong U.S. leadership. Please join in commending Obama for his important statements pressing both Israel and the Palestinians to take action for peace.

Now is indeed a critical moment in the long history of this conflict. Despite widespread support for a two-state solution, the window of opportunity is closing. As hope dims, the threat of violence grows and hard-line voices are strengthened.

If the President is going to provide the kind of sustained, hands-on U.S. diplomacy necessary to help move the parties forward and finally end this conflict, he will need for those who believe in this effort to make their voices heard.

Add your name today to the letter to President Obama urging bold U.S. action for peace in the Holy Land.


ELCA news release, “ELCA Presiding Bishop Welcomes President's Remarks on U.S.-Muslim Relations," June 4, 2009.

Text of Ecumenical Letter, June 4, 2009 -

Transcript: President Obama’s Cairo Speech, June 4, 2009 -

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The ELCA Middle East Network provides regular updates. Sign up at this link -

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To receive regular bulletins from Ann Hafften, go the the blog: A Texas Lutheran's Voice for Peace,

Thursday, June 4, 2009

`World Week' has churches working for peace where there is no peace

Today, as President Obama speaks in Egypt, the World Council of Churches kicks off World Week for Peace is Palestine Israel. Resources for participation are at this web link: World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel -

An ecumenical worship service sponsored by the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem anchors World Week; the East Jerusalem event is on Sunday 7 June, St. Stephen's Church on Nablus Road, at 16:00.

A prayer from the Jerusalem church leaders is available to nearly 400 WCC member churches in more than 100 countries -



Australia is focusing on Gaza, Austria has town pilgrimages. Brazil has seminary students debating conflict over "holy" land. Canadians, Scots, Norwegians, British and French are making contact with lawmakers. Directors of church-related aid agencies are visiting Israeli and Palestinian partner organizations. And on the high Wall that hems in Bethlehem, Palestinians are "showing" prayers at night.

The events are part of World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel, 4-10 June 2009. Churches and related organizations in more than 20 countries are taking part. The World Council of Churches-led action week is dedicated to prayer, education and advocacy for an end to a 60-year conflict.

"We feel as if we are in one world and every one else, and all other cities, live in another world," says a student’s prayer that may be projected on the Wall and is one of many available online from a church-related organization in Bethlehem.

During the action week the peace prayers will be read aloud at local sites of suffering – near settlements, at demolished homes, at checkpoints, in refugee camps, and in parishes and schools in the West Bank and Gaza. Churches on every continent will also make use of the prayers.

People and parishes around the world are invited to send their own prayers for peace to Bethlehem for this "World Week". The invitation is open to churches well beyond the membership of the WCC.

Parishes and organizations in some 40 countries responded during last year’s action week, thanks especially to members of Pax Christi International. Emailing prayers enables people "to show direct solidarity" in addition to parish events, a Swedish organizer says.

While "World Week" prayers ask help from heaven, church advocates also seek changes on earth. On 5 June, two church groups in England will visit an Israeli-owned company in the West Midlands that makes engines for drones used in the Gaza war. After a public witness there, they will build a peace cairn at a local church.

Special focus on settlements

Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, which are illegal under international law, are a special focus this year. A UK advocacy paper on settlement products suggests morally responsible actions people and parishes in the European Union can take with retailers and governments that maintain economic links to the occupation. The paper was developed by Quaker Peace and Social Witness, one of 12 organizations behind the action week in the UK.

Parliamentarians, local parishioners and a Palestinian legislator will meet for an advocacy evening on June 10 at an Edinburgh parish in Scotland. To enter they will have to walk around a full-sized image of the Wall outside the church.

Church groups in France have joined a civil society campaign for Palestinian rights that is focused on candidates in the 7 June election for the European Parliament. Most of Australia’s parliamentarians have received a report on the humanitarian situation in Gaza, with a cover letter from church representatives in Canberra. Meanwhile, 3000 Australian parishes have received information kits about Israel-Palestine.

Participating countries report that joint actions in June for World Week often strengthen or spawn individual church actions for Israel-Palestine peace during the rest of the year.

Education to counter misinformation is a goal of the week. See this link:

Norwegian organizers are tackling conflict-related problems in tourism and theology. A tourism seminar will explore a Code of Conduct developed by Palestinian tourism groups. A theology seminar will examine the concept of "Promised Land" with a pastor who has written a new book on the subject.

In the Netherlands, a story-telling relay will spread across the country, starting at the beach. The idea comes from parish protests during the recent Gaza war.

In the Philippines, World Week is one impetus behind a new Philippines Solidarity Group for Peace which links religious, youth, indigenous and academic organizations, and includes Protestants, Roman Catholics and Muslims.

Brazil, Austria, South Africa, the USA and other countries will have congregations and conferences learning, singing and praying about peace, thanks to a liturgy from Ireland. The order of service was inspired by a church leaders’ visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territory for action week last year. It includes testimonies by young Palestinians and Israelis about peace.

An ecumenical service sponsored by the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem has anchored World Week each of its four years. This year the East Jerusalem event is on Sunday 7 June. A prayer from the Jerusalem church leaders is available to nearly 400 WCC member churches in more than 100 countries.

The World Week and its joint actions are part of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum which is convened by the WCC.

World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel

WCC member churches in Israel/Palestine

WCC Living Letters visit to Israel/Palestine

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 349 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.

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