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The Israel/Palestine Conflict
an index of reports
April '02 through
2006

For reports added in 2010 >>
For reports and links from 2007-2009.
Items archived from 2006 >>
Reports from 2005 are now archived.
For archives from September through December, 2004 >>

Items from July and August, 2004 >>

Faith-based responses to the new conflict in Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon   [7-19-06]

We offer here a few comments and analyses of the current crisis in the Middle East, reflecting a variety of viewpoints and faith traditions.

If you want to suggest other statements, or share you own views, we'll be happy to hear from you, and post them here.

Just send us a note!
 

Items posted so far:

Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick urges Bush to press Middle East peace

'Spiral of violence' threatens all-out regional war, Kirkpatrick says

National Council of Churches says Mideast violence is futile, urges nonviolent solution, prayers and advocacy

Jewish Voice for Peace offers seven "talking points" on the Mid-East crisis

Rabbi Michael Lerner:  "End the Suffering in the Middle East"

Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun Magazine and a long-time advocate for peace in the Middle East (including peaceful initiatives from Israel) has posted a lengthy and thoughtful analysis of the complexities of the current military struggles, along with suggestions for action on the part of all parties involved.

A comment on divestment:  " Our policy in the Middle East is why we are in this war."

Former Israeli Minister of Education asserts:

There is apartheid in Israel
[1-25-07]

Shulamit Aloni, the Israeli Prize laureate who once served as Minister of Education under Yitzhak Rabin, wrote an article for Yediot Acharonot, Israel's largest circulating newspaper, in which he describes a new decree banning the conveyance of Palestinians in Israeli vehicles. Such a blatant violation of the right to travel joins the long list of human rights violations carried out by Israel in the Occupied Territories. It's one more proof, he says, that Jewish attacks on Jimmy Carter’s recent book are unjustified, since apartheid is in fact being imposed by Israel on the Palestinians.

He continues: "Apartheid is defined [in the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, to which Israel is a signatory] as an international crime that among other things includes using different legal instruments to rule over different racial groups, thus depriving people of their human rights. Isn't freedom of travel one of these rights?"

Read the article, as posted by Tikkun >>

A Jewish professor of political science writes in support of divestment   [6-6-06]

Commissioners preparing for the coming General Assembly have received great heaps of letters and other communications from people and groups wanting them to hear their point of view. And there may be just a few among those commissioners who have not quite kept up with the paper flood.

But one letter in the flood is worth reading, whether you’re a commissioner or not.

Norman G. Finkelstein, who teaches political science at DePaul University in Chicago, has long paid attention to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and has worked for lasting peace between the two nations.

His letter reflects both his experience and his concerns, and explains why he supports the Presbyterian study of the possibility of what he rightly calls "a phased, selective divestment from companies profiting from Israel's occupation."

Nukes in the Middle East?

Well, Israel does have them.
[3-17-06]

Witherspooner Dr. Arch Taylor sends this note:

I have been trying to call attention to the fact that Israel possesses nuclear weapons of mass destruction as an important factor in the present international expression of concern about Iran. Nobody seems willing to listen. People in general don't know this truth about Israel, and the major media aren't interested in getting the word out. I am currently trying to get the local newspaper stirred up about it. Please do your part.

In peace, for peace,

Arch

Taylor refers to an article by Malcolm Lagauche in Uruknet, a website devoted to providing "information from occupied Iraq"

The Federation of American Scientists provides another, perhaps more objective, analysis of Israel’s development of a significant nuclear capability.

Rachel Corrie -- to be censored?

A New York theater is pressured to cancel a play as too sympathetic to Palestinian cause
 [3-13-06]

An article by Jeremy Gerard, published by Bloomberg, tells the sad story. It begins:

Rachel Corrie is back in the news, transformed from unlikely martyr to the Palestinian cause into something more mundane: poster girl for the culture wars, in the battle over art, with a capital A, and its responsibility to truth, with a capital T.

Corrie, an idealistic 23-year-old from the state of Washington, died in March 2003 when an Israeli Defense Forces bulldozer crushed her as she protested the razing of Palestinian homes in Gaza. Outrage followed, as Corrie’s pretty blond visage stared out from the front pages of newspapers around the world.

Now the contretemps has moved beyond international politics. "My Name Is Rachel Corrie," a solo show distilled from Corrie’s writings by the British actor Alan Rickman (the sinister Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films) and journalist Katharine Viner, was first presented last spring at London’s Royal Court Theatre. It was critically acclaimed and a popular hit.

In the U.S. this season, an off-Broadway company, the New York Theatre Workshop — probably best known as the group that developed "Rent" as well as Tony Kushner’s "Homebody/Kabul" –was to have presented "Rachel Corrie." But artistic director James Nicola announced last week that the production was being "delayed" while the group considered the best way to"contextualize" the play. Translation: People are complaining that presenting this work gives a bullhorn to Israel’s enemies, and that makes us very nervous. So we’re going to see if we can render "My Name Is Rachel Corrie" toothless or, barring that, postpone it and pray really hard that the problem eventually just goes away.    The rest of the article >>


Also ...

Go to the Rachel’s Words website for much more on Rachel Corrie, the play, and plans to hold readings of the play to protest this censorship of her witness for peace and justice.

Hebron: On hatred

By Maureen Jack, member of a Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron, in the Israeli occupied West Bank of Palestine  [posted here 11-25-05]

[A note from your WebWeaver: I am not able to confirm this account, but I have had previous contacts with the Christian Peacemaker Teams which lead me to trust them. I have also heard similar stories from other Palestinians.]


23 November 2005


I'd not met him before. He's perhaps slightly older than I and he was wearing a green cap, not unlike my red CPT one. By his accent he was clearly originally from London, though he now lives in a settlement. I said hello. 'Fuck you. Screw you,' he said.

We were standing across the street from an entrance to the Israeli settlement of Beit Hadassah in Hebron. I was there with Anne and John (both in their late seventies) and some other internationals on school patrol at the foot of steps leading up to Qurtuba School, a school for Palestinian girls. We were waiting for the girls to come down on their way home. He was there with a group from Women in Green, an organization committed to support for Israeli settlements. They were also there waiting for the schoolgirls.

The girls and women teachers started to make their way nervously down the crumbled steps. The Israeli visitors pushed forward taking photos. We got in between them as best we could. I didn't document at all. I took no photos. I have no idea of what went on around me. All I could see was the fear on the faces of the women and girls. All I could feel was the tremor in their hands as I helped them down. All I could hear was my faltering Arabic as I tried to find something reassuring to say.

And then it was over. The girls and the teachers were all on their way home. But the Israeli ex-Londoner was not finished. 'Have you got cancer yet? I hope so,' he said to me. 'Please don't say that. My husband died of cancer six years ago,' I replied. 'I am happy about that,' he said.

What has this man's life been like that he has such hatred? How is he feeling now? Is he thinking of me, as I am thinking of him? Is he weeping now, as I am? And am I weeping for myself, or for him?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical initiative to support violence reduction efforts around the world. To learn more about CPT's peacemaking work, please visit our website at: http://www.cpt.org.  Photos of our projects may be viewed at: http://www.cpt.org/gallery

Presbyterians continue to pursue possible divestment from companies supporting Israeli occupation of Palestine    [8-12-05]

The Presbyterian Church’s Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) committee , meeting last week in Seattle, chose five multinational corporations Caterpillar, Citigroup, ITT Industries, Motorola and United Technologies for "progressive engagement" about business practices believed to contribute to violence in Israel and Palestine.

After several hours of discussion on Aug. 5, the MRTI committee unanimously selected the five companies and agreed to begin discussions with them about their involvement in the conflict.

See the Presbyterian New Service report >>

Also, about 20 members of the PCUSA went to Seattle to express support for the General Assembly’s decision to start a process of "phased selective divestment."   The article >>

And officials of firms on ‘engagement’ list defended their business practices in Israel-Palestine, with some expressing puzzlement, others sticking to earlier statements.   The story >>

Critical responses have come, too

Laurie Goodstein, writing in the New York Times, gives a rather negative view of the MRTI action, including this comment:

"This is a brilliantly organized political campaign to hurt Israel, and it's not going to help a single Palestinian," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish watchdog group based in Los Angeles. "When you look at the list of companies, this is basically a recipe for Israel to disarm."

She also cites Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick’s continuing effort to help people understand what’s really going on:

The Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., said in an interview: "It's not a campaign to divest from the state of Israel. We're fully committed to the state of Israel. But it is a campaign to divest from particular activities that are doing damage and creating injustice and violence, whether that's the building of the separation barrier, construction related to the occupation, or weapons and materials that lead to suicide bombings."

Read this in the NY Times (registration required) or on IndyBay

Another negative comment:

"Churches gang up on Israel"

In a remarkably similar, but more overtly slanted article, columnist Tom Teepen says the Presbyterian Church is leading other churches in "get-tough policies toward Israel ostensibly designed to force peace with the Palestinians, but [that are] are more likely to sabotage peace than to advance it."

Read this in the Minneapolis Star Tribune >>


A frequent reader comments on the New York Times column:

Doug,

The Times piece on MRTI's announcement is only slightly better than what I would expect from the Layman. It gives lots of attention to what other people are saying and studiously diminishes both the content of MRTI's statement and the expertise behind it. Like so much of what we have seen, it manages to imply that selecting targets and topics for engagement is tantamount to proceeding with taking our money out of Israel sometime this week. The Times needs to be called on the carpet for buying in to an hysterical side show so fully that it appears to be unwilling to present either the case MRTI has made or the reality of the process our church has undertaken. On Saturday the piece was one of the top five articles that people had looked at on-line.

The assumption that these big serious companies will not engage our silly little church is both ill-informed and debilitating. The news that our church might influence its targets with holdings so small as $60 million total in companies whose market capitalization amounts to tens or even a couple of hundred of Billions is a serious enough matter to excite all that blather makes it real clear that a lot of folks who are real good at getting access to the news media do not agree with the assumption.

Perhaps someone should explain to some folks that the PCUSA's holdings in these companies stocks are the PCUSA's property, and the church has property rights to make decisions about its holdings based on its own perception of its interests and responsibilities.

Jonathan Justice


NOTE:  The Witherspoon Society board has been and continues to be supportive of the action of the General Assembly and the continuing efforts of MRTI to seek effective ways of resisting the violence in Israel/Palestine.  The possible divestment of certain stock holdings is a way of opening dialogue with corporations about their actions that appear to perpetuate the violence.  Will it solve all the problems of the Middle East?  Not likely.  But it does offer one small step toward peace, and away from violence.  Can we do less?

Got comments on the MRTI action and/or the continuing debate?
Please send a note!

New DVD series tells stories of Palestinian Christians in West Bank 

Marthame and Elizabeth Sanders announce the completion of their series
[3-16-05]

Marthame and Elizabeth Sanders lived in the mostly Christian Palestinian village of Zababdeh from August, 2000, through December, 2003. Volunteers with the Presbyterian Church (USA), their ministry was one of ecumenical support to the Church in the land of its birth. Salt of the Earth documents the lives of nine Palestinian Christians living in the northern West Bank. This film grew out of a desire among their Palestinian neighbors to share their stories, and a desire among Christians in the West to hear them. The Sanders describe the project as "a labor of love, a response to the graciousness, warmth, hospitality, and welcome we received from our Palestinian neighbors and colleagues." Clips from nine of the segments are available online.

You can order your copy/copies by visiting the webpage:
http://order.saltfilms.net.

The Sanders are also developing study guides for each of the segments.

We’ve posted earlier reports from them ...

bullet

From March 2003

bullet

From Advent, 2004, on learning hope from Christians in the West Bank

NCC Middle East delegation concludes visit, issues statement

'Barriers do not bring freedom'

An 11-member delegation from the National Council of Churches USA has recently returned from a two-week visit to the Middle East. Delegation members asked those with whom they met: "Is there a new window of opportunity for peace?" In the statement entitled "Barriers Do Not Bring Freedom," the delegation concludes, "A sliver of hope for peace does exist, but we feel strongly the moment must be seized now or the future will remain dim."

Read the rest of the story, including the members of the delegation, and the full text of their statement.     [2-9-05]

Calls multiply for renewed peacemaking in Israel/Palestine   [1-14-05]
 
bulletReligious leaders -- including PCUSA's Clifton Kirkpatrick -- push president to focus on Middle East peace

Thirty-five Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders have appealed to President George Bush to resume peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.

The National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace (NILIP) in the Middle East is a collaboration of the U.S. leadership of the three Abrahamic faiths -- Christians, Jews and Muslims -- and is a first in this arena.

The national leaders and heads of 28 organizations are also mobilizing local religious communities in U.S. cities to back this appeal to the president and to request support for it by their senators and representatives to Congress.

bulletThe Shalom Center ("A Prophetic Voice in Jewish, Multireligious, and American Life") has placed a full-page ad in today's New York Times (page A 11) - a strong, multireligious call for Peacemaking in Israel/Palestine.
 
bulletJewish leader urges "Help Abbas succeed ... for peace"

Yossi Beilin, a former justice minister of Israel, writes in the Washington Post that the election of Mahmoud Abbas as the new president of the Palestinian Authority offers a unique opportunity for peace in Israel/Palestine. This presents President Bush with a challenge to show whether he is for the peace process or against. Beilin and Abbas gave birth to the Oslo Accords and laid the foundation for Clinton's Camp David summit.

Learn about the Israel Palestine conflict from a Palestinian Christian and Lutheran pastor    [10-11-04]

If you're in the New York area, you'll have opportunities this week to join in events this week with the Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb. Mitri is a Palestinian Christian and the pastor of the Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem. Despite the growing violence, Mitri remains an ardent advocate for peace in the region.   He will be speaking on three occasions, sponsored by the Presbyterian UN Office and other groups.

Why they hate us, and why it matters  [6-3-04]

Dean Lindsey, pastor of Salem Presbyterian Church in Salem, VA, recently reported in the local paper on a talk by the Rev. George Conn, a retired Presbyterian pastor, recently returned from a visit to Israel-Palestine.  He explored the reasons for the deep hostility felt by so many in the Middle East toward the US.

The real battle of Muslim extremists is against their own governments, but the US has provided an ideal recruiting tool and outside enemy for their struggle. 

Middle East Update  [6-3-04]

US continues favoring a "one-state" solution to the Israel-Palestine struggle, ignoring all UN mandates and legitimate interests of Palestinians.

The Presbyterian Washington Office provides a helpful, thorough background paper on the situation, with suggestions for action.

Sixty former US diplomats protest Bush's alignment with Sharon   [5-7-04]

Some 60 former U.S. diplomats and other government officials who served overseas have signed a letter to President George W. Bush, protesting his support for the Israeli government's position in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The letter was inspired by a similar protest signed by 52 former British ambassadors and senior government officials and sent to Prime Minister Tony Blair last week. That letter warned that Blair's strong support for Bush's policies in both Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were "doomed to failure."

The US diplomats' letter, which applauded their British colleagues' initiative, is focused far more on the Israel-Palestinian issue, noting in particular Bush's Apr. 14 endorsement of Sharon's plan to unilaterally withdraw Israeli settlers from the Gaza strip while consolidating five large settlement blocs on the West Bank.

Thanks to Darrell Yeaney

Israel-Palestine: a new crisis   [4-23-04]

The Israel-Palestine settlement is being undermined by recent administration actions to give one-sided support to the Israeli government under Ariel Sharon .

The Washington Office of the PC(USA) provides a helpful background paper and suggestions for communicating your concern to Congress and the White House

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is beginning to gather aid for victims of the earthquake in Iran.   Read more about their plans, and about resources you can use to gather and send help.   [1-5-04]
A Christian Peacemaker Team delegation in Hebron reports on glimpses of hope amid all the bad news from Israel/Palestine  [10-1-03]

"Holy Land" - What is it and who owns it? A Christian transformation of the question   [8-30-03]

Land - "holy land" - and who owns it is at the center of the terrible, seemingly endless conflict in Israel/Palestine.

The Rev. Thomas C. Davis, pastor of Hanover Street Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware, decided to preach two sermons exploring the notion of holy land in the Hebrew scriptures, and its radical transformation in the New Testament. In the first sermon, "God's Abode," he points to Jesus' insistence that God's presence was now to be found not in a place - the Temple or the Land - but in the Person of Jesus (the Way), and thus in all persons.

And in the second sermon, "Everywhere Lies Holy Ground," he traces the pattern of "ethnic cleansing" from the ancient Hebrews' conquest of the Promised Land, through their Puritan descendants' conquest and extermination of the native peoples of North America, to the apartheid system in South Africa. He shows how, again, Jesus overturns the idea of a "holy land" as the property of one people; now all land is holy, for God moves among all peoples.

"The Jews can't lay exclusive claim to [the Holy Land] any more than they can to holy ground. Everywhere lies holy ground, because the spirit blows where it wills." And so, he concludes, "Christianity, in Luke's view, is not tied to any specific land. It''\s mission is to the ends of the earth."

Note:  Both sermons are posted on the same page; the link above will take you there.

The Violence in Israel/Palestine:  A Predictable Consequence of a Flawed Road Map....and what we can do about it.     [6-23-03]

What can be done to realize any kind of peace in the Middle East? 

Rabbi Michael Lerner of the Tikkun Community has posted a letter that people may want to send (with any alterations they might choose to add) to their Senators and Congresspersons. In it he sets forth a number of concrete suggestions, including:

bulletstrong statements by the US that terrorists acts will not be allowed to halt the peace process - thereby removing the veto power now held by extremists on both sides;
bulletunequivocal statements "that the United States supports and will insist upon a Palestinian state throughout the West Bank and Gaza, and a return of Israel to the pre-67 borders with "minor border modifications" ... and that these minor modifications will be negotiated right now, at the beginning of the process."
bulletinternational funding to compensate Palestinians who choose to live within the Palestinian state, as well as for Jews who fled Arab lands from 1948-67, and "funds to resettle Israeli settlers within the pre-67 borders of Israel."
bullet"the introduction of an international force to provide a buffer between the two sides by separating them and preventing violence."
Armed with principles, "fighting" and dying for peace in Palestine
[4-23-03]

One young American woman, Rachel Corrie, was crushed to death March 16 by an Israeli army bulldozer as she attempted to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian family's home. Two young men, one American and one British, have been seriously wounded by Israeli army gunfire. All have been serving in Palestinian areas with the International Solidarity Movement, the peace group that uses such non-violent means as positioning activists as "human shields" around the occupied territories to protect Palestinian civilians.

Ali Abunimah, a Palestinian, notes that these recent incidents appear to be "part of a pattern, and that Israel is deliberately targeting internationals, so that it can carry out human-rights abuses unobserved. Whatever the truth, Americans and other foreign citizens are falling victim to Israeli tactics that have killed and injured thousands of Palestinians. A lack of accountability means that such incidents could increase."

This article was first published in the Chicago Tribune on 22 April 2003.

Thanks to Darrell and Sue Yeaney

Faith, Hope, and Love in Zababdeh  [3-3-03]

Marthame and Elizabeth Sanders are American Presbyterians working in the Palestinian Christian village of Zababdeh, near Jenin.

They share a close-up look at a West Bank community, and the Christians and Muslims for whom it's home. And they try to explain why, even now, they haven't left for the safety of the United States.

The answer? "We're still here because we believe. We came here out of a commitment to serve the Church in the land of its birth, to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ. What our American government says or does cannot change that calling, or pry us from this place. ... We're still here because we hope. We hope that war will be avoided, for nothing made by human hands is inevitable. ... We are still here, because we love. We love the people of this region. From Baghdad to Beirut, we have visited them, eaten with them, laughed and cried with them, worshiped and prayed with them. Having done so, it's impossible for us to think of them as the enemy - or as candidates for collateral damage."

So your WebWeaver wonders: Living out of faith and hope and love, how might we in the U.S. face the threats that our national poses to the world today?

A peacemaker's mission trip to the Middle East

Darrell W. Yeaney, Middle East Peacemaking Enabler in the Presbytery of East Iowa - and Witherspoon member - reports on a three-week mission trip to the Middle East last May and June. The group heard three main concerns from Christians: the negative impact of aggressive Western "evangelists" who do not respect the Christian communities that have lived in those countries for centuries; the pressures created by the growing rich-poor gap between the West and other parts of the world; and the continuing anguish over Israel's occupation and repression of the Arab people of Palestine, and one-sided US support for Israel.   [12-11-02]

This Christmas ... plenty of room in the inn 

The inns are empty, but they couldn't get into the town because Israel has closed it to all visitors. 

A Palestinian Christian tells of the sad state of  "the little town of Bethlehem" at the season of Christmas, 2002. As you ponder the birth of Jesus -- or prepare sermons about it -- this might add a dimension of reality.   [12-6-02]

Palestine a deeply troubled land  [11-15-02]

PCUSA Moderator recently visited his homeland of Palestine, and heard one clear message:  His people are suffering now more than ever, and urged him to work to dissuade the US from attacking Iraq.

Iraq Peace Pledge is gathering support   [9-10-02]

The Campaign of Conscience is seeking signatures for a "Peace Pledge" of people and groups committed to opposing the impending war against Iraq.
Iraq War Plans Consume Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking

A respected church group analyzes the heavy costs - human, moral, political and diplomatic as well as economic - of the planned war on Iraq. The organization, Churches for Middle East Peace, of which the Presbyterian Church (USA) is a member, has issued a thoughtful review of the impending war against Iraq.  [9-10-02]

Church leaders urge: "Stop the rush to war."

Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick has joined 36 other church leaders from Britain, Canada and the US, to call on the U.S. government to pull back from its "rush to war" in Iraq.   [9-3-02]

US churches urge President to support international peacekeeping force in Israel/Palestine   [8-29-02]

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), an ecumenical coalition that includes the Presbyterian Church (USA), has sent a letter to President George Bush urging him to support an the deployment of an international peacekeeping force in Israel/Palestine.

Dancing with the Archbishop

Sojourners' editor Jim Wallis offers an interesting view of Rowan Williams, the new Archbishop-Elect of the Church of England. This leads to thoughts on the need for people to raise their voices - through letters, calls, petitions - against the impending American invasion of Iraq.     [8-29-02]

What should we be doing about the threatened invasion of Iraq?

Please send a note, and let's talk about it!

California professor: Israel's policy toward Palestine aims at "urbicide" -- destroying the fabric of their society  [8-26-02]
Historian Howard Zinn offers a compelling case against US invasion of Iraq     [8-22-02]
Is Pres. Bush saying, like his father, "What we say goes"[8-19-02]

Arch Taylor, retired Japan missionary, shares a letter he recently sent to the Louisville Courier-Journal, laying out briefly and powerfully the alarmingly unilateral and aggressive policies of the present Bush administration.

Related to this, you may want to read a report of a recent speech by former weapons inspector Scott Ritter, speaking out loudly against invasion.

Not all evangelicals are Zionists  [7-16-02]

A group of 43 evangelical leaders -- including 5 Presbyterians -- has sent a letter to Pres. Bush,

Rabbi Michael Lerner has offered a response to Pres. Bush's policy statement on the Middle East conflict, saying that the statement gives encouragement to Israel's repressive policies, and thus encourages Palestinian terrorism rather than efforts for peace.  [6-27-02]
We need even-handedness in the Middle East  [6-15-02]

The Rev. Arch Taylor, a former Presbyterian Japan missionary, has sent this letter to President Bush, commending his even-handedness in dealing with the Pakistan-India conflict, and urging the same kind of approach to the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

A Presbyterian, a Palestinian, and a Jew join in calling for an end to the devastation of Palestine

[5-7-02]

Arch Taylor, a former Presbyterian missionary in Japan, along with a Palestinian-American and a Jewish-American, published an open letter on May 4 in the Louisville Courier-Journal, with the headline: AN END TO PALESTINIAN DEVASTATION.

The writers place much of the responsibility for the current violence on Prime Minister Arial Sharon, under whose leadership "Israel is systematically destroying not only the Palestinians' present but also their future."

But US policy (or lack of policy) is also responsible: "Mere words calling for Israeli withdrawal and eventual establishment of a viable Palestinian state will avail absolutely nothing so long as unconditional support for Israel and Sharon continues."

Citing the example of the 435 Israeli combat officers and soldiers who have refused to fight beyond Israel's1967 borders, the three authors call on people on both sides to "take risks for peace." They conclude: "We believe that peace can come only when both Israel and Palestine co-exist as viable, independent states side by side, each with recognized and secure borders."

NCC delegation condemns killing by both sides, lifts up steps toward peace  [5-6-02]

A delegation of US church leaders has returned from a 12-day visit to Israel, Palestine, and neighboring countries, under the auspices of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Calling on both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to agree to an immediate ceasefire, they "condemn equally and unequivocally both the suicide bombings and Palestinian violence against Israeli society and the violence of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories."

Among other steps toward a resolution of the conflict, they call for:

bulletthe affirmation by Palestinians and by Arab states of the right of the State of Israel to exist within secure borders;
bulletthe establishment of an international peacekeeping force ...
bulletthe end of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza;
bulletthe cessation of the building of new Israeli settlements ...;
bullet... dismantling ... of settlements that negate the geographic integrity of a viable Palestinian state ...;
bulletthe sharing of Jerusalem by the two peoples and three faiths so that Jerusalem may truly reflect its name, City of Peace; and
bulletthe commitment by Israel to address the issue of the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

The Rev. Janet Arbesman, Vice-Moderator of the 213th General Assembly of the PCUSA, was a member of the delegation.
A new "decalogue" for peace  [4-18-02]

Religious leaders spoke out in January to condemn all religious violence, and offered an "Assisi Decalogue" to give form to their call for peace. Was anybody listening?

Journalist David Walters gives some of the story, and the content of the statement itself.

An eyewitness to "a war crime" in Jenin  [4-18-02]

Witherspooner Darrel Yeaney has sent one account of the devastation wrought by the Israeli forces in the Palestinian refugee camp of Jenin. Yeaney says that Phil Reeves was formerly a staff writer for the Orlando paper, and is now Middle East correspondent for the London Independent. Adds Yeaney, who has made numerous visits to the Middle East himself, "You can count on [his report] for accuracy.]

The report begins:

A monstrous war crime that Israel has tried to cover up for a fortnight has finally been exposed. Its troops have caused devastation in the centre of the Jenin refugee camp, reached yesterday by The Independent, where thousands of people are still living amid the ruins.

A residential area roughly 160,000 square yards about a third of a mile wide has been reduced to dust. Rubble has been shovelled by bulldozers into 30ft piles. The sweet and ghastly reek of rotting human bodies is everywhere, evidence that it is a human tomb. The people ... say there are hundreds of corpses, entombed beneath the dust, under a field of debris ...


He went to Jenin expecting that many of the Palestinian accounts were exaggerations, as the Israelis have insisted. He saw enough to be convinced that the terror and devastation are very real.

For instance: "Until two weeks ago, there were several hundred tightly-packed homes in this neighbourhood called Harat al-Hawashim. They no longer exist."

Read the full, wretched story on the ZNet on-line news magazine.

For more graphic views of the horror in Jenin, visit The Palestine Chronicle.  But be warned, the photos are grim!

In the Name of God, Seek Peace and Pursue It  [4-15-02]

Jewish leaders have issued a call for peace, urging the United States to "bring about the creation of an international force to protect both Israelis and Palestinians from violence," and "call a regional peace conference including Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and all the Arab states, and peace-committed religious leaders and leaders of civil society in the region, to take up at once the Saudi proposals for regional peace ..."

Jim Wallis of Sojourners looks at "the horrific violence in the Middle East" through a Palestinian Quaker and American Jewish friends. He concludes: 

The immediate question is how to stop the current violence. ... The United States should immediately work to bring about the creation of an international protection force to shield both Israelis and Palestinians from further violence, and call a regional peace conference including Israel, the Arab states, along with religious leaders and civil society organizations.

There has been enough killing - it's time for peace.

He also offers some hope: voices on both sides of the conflict calling for peace.

[4-12-02]

Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick has issued a letter calling urgently for peace in the Middle East.  He calls for an end to acts of terrorism and of state-sponsored violence, and for an end to the occupation of Palestinian territory.   [4-10-02]

He notes that "

The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship has issued a statement on the crisis in Israel/Palestine, restating its "conviction that acts of violence can not lead to security and peace for Palestinians and Israelis." 

The statement expresses appreciation for Pres. Bush's April 4th statement, and underscores the need for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.  [4-5-02]

An appeal has come to us urging that people around the world join in a circle of prayer for peace in the Middle East.  We share it here in the confident faith that prayer does make a difference.   [4-3-02]
More on the Israeli - Palestinian conflict: A Jewish cry at Passover for the suffering of Palestinians, and for a truly "free Jerusalem"   [4-1-02]
An appeal from people under siege in Ramallah  [3-30-02]

We have just received an urgent plea from Palestinians and members of the international community in Ramallah, Palestine.  They detail what is happening to the people there, and urge people in other countries to raise their voices in protest against the actions of the current Israeli government.

For reports added in 2010 >>
For reports and links from 2007-2009.
Items archived from 2006 >>
Reports from 2005 are now archived.
For archives from September through December, 2004 >>

Items from July and August, 2004 >>

 

Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

Mitch Trigger, PVJ's Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!

You can post your own news and views, or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.

 

John Shuck’s new "Religion for Life" website

Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck, a Presbyterian minister currently serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and lightening up.

Click here for his blog posts.

Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."

 

John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

Theological and philosophical reflections on everything between summit to shore, including kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in Flushing, NY.

 

Voices of Sophia blog

Heather Reichgott, who has created this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:

After fifteen years of scholarship and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy, students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and thoughtful community.

 

Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!

 

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