Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
You will, like us, earnestly desire a long lasting end to the hostilities in the Gaza Strip on the basis of an effective, permanent peace in all of Palestine and Israel.
We therefore know you will wish to join us in prayer for that peace. Two prayers written by Palestinian Christians are at the end of this letter and we commend them for use by congregations and individuals.
We attach to this letter a statement, Diplomatic pressure for Peace: A call for Sanctions, we received in late July from the National Coalition of Christian Organisations in Palestine and Kairos Palestine. You can see this statement and read more about the Coalition and Kairos at www.kairospalestine.ps
We wholeheartedly commend this statement to you, particularly its prayer for “freedom, justice and peace”. The heartfelt cry in the statement, its call for peaceful actions, and its commitment to peace and security for all Israelis and Palestinians move us deeply.
What more can we say? We share a few brief thoughts with you.
- Please do not see the conflict between Israel and Palestine as an inter-religious conflict, as between people of Jewish faith and people of Islamic faith. The Christian leaders in Palestine have repeatedly told us that it’s the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza that is the reason for the lack of peace, not religious factors.
- The Christians of Palestine look to the world church constantly for support. Like all Palestinians they have suffered greatly from the past 47 years of military occupation. They ask for help from the world church and from the international community for an end to the occupation and for a peace which allows them freedom and justice. We stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Christ in Palestine and Israel, and we hold them deeply in our hearts.
- We deplore the firing of rockets by Hamas into Israel. We agree with the majority of international legal opinion that indiscriminate firing of rockets in such a way is a violation of international law and should cease.
- We deplore the massive level of military response by Israel, with the killing of hundreds, if not thousands, of people in Gaza, many of them children. We agree with the majority of international legal opinion that the disproportionate killing by Israel is a violation of international law and should cease.
- We note the call in the attached statement for economic and military sanctions. Palestinian Christians believe that sanctions are the only non-violent means open to the world which could be effective in bringing Israel to act for peace. It must be remembered that in situations of major inequality of power between two opposing sides – of which the struggle against Apartheid was a striking example – it is almost always the case that the weaker party necessarily relies on the widest possible support of the whole international community, including by the imposition of boycotts and sanctions. As Christians, we are always called to side with the weak against the strong. See http://pien.org.au/bdscampaign for more information re boycotts.
When Jesus Christ began his ministry and, before his own townspeople, sought to set his priorities, he said, quoting Isaiah, and adding that he was to fulfil these words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4: 18-19, NRSV).
Recognising that we are all called as Christ’s disciples to fulfil that same mission to the best of our abilities, we seek your prayers for an immediate end to the conflict and suffering in Gaza and for a genuine, lasting and just peace in Palestine and Israel that will end the occupation of the Palestinian territories and the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Only then can the people of Israel and the people of Palestine live in peace together
In the fellowship of Christ,
Rev Robert Bartholomaeus, Lutheran Church of Australia
Dr Kevin Bray, Churches of Christ
Rev Gregor Henderson, Uniting Church in Australia
Prayers from Palestine
We pray for peace in Gaza, for an end to the violence and bloodshed. We pray that those in authority in the government of Israel, in Hamas and in the international community will work together for peace and for an end to the blockade of Gaza. We pray to you, O God.
We pray that the Palestinian people, who suffer from injustice and the difficulty of everyday life, do not lose hope in your justice and mercy. We pray that they do not give in to despair
and continue to place their hope for a better future in the strength of your hope. We pray to you, O God.
We pray for all those who are in a state of sorrow and grief, that they may be released of their suffering and be granted the consolation of God. We pray to you, O God.
We pray that God will strengthen our commitment to the work of genuine peace in Palestine and Israel, built on justice and equality for all, so that future generations will live in happiness and tranquillity. We pray to you, O God.
(adapted from a prayer written by Palestinian Christians, September 2012)
Almighty God, heavenly Father, hear our prayers. Help us work together towards freedom, justice and peace. Fill our heart with love and compassion and help us achieve just peace without which no security can be guaranteed for anybody. Remind us that we are all created in your image, and that we can all triumph over every evil and live in your peace, and not only by human treaties and agreements. Amen.
(National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine, July 2014)
Diplomatic pressure for Peace: A call for Sanctions
“So now, you kings, come to your senses, You earthly rulers, learn your lesson”.
What is going on these days in Gaza is not war. It is a massacre of civilians, men, women and children. More than 650 people killed and over 4000 injured, the majority being civilians; this cannot be justified as an act of self-defense! What is going on in Gaza is blind evil striking out through a wrong vision of security, self-defense and peace.
We implore God Almighty who told us: “Ask and it will be given to you, search and you will find,, knock and the door will be open to you.” ( Mt.7;7) O lord we have asked, and we have knocked, and we have been seeking justice and peace for years. But no doors have been opened and we have been treated very unjustly. Lord, open the hearts and minds of all, those who are afraid and insecure, those who kill, and the people of Gaza who, despite a 7 year-old siege and three consecutive assaults believed that they were secure in their rebuilt homes, but their homes are demolished and their lives taken.
It is time for a radical change of concepts and positions. Israelis and Palestinians can live together in peace and mutual love if the root causes of injustice are removed. Education given to the people was negative in past years. A new education must start: love is possible, coexistence is possible. The concept of fear and insecurity should change. The concept of killing so easily hundreds of men, women and children must change. Lords of war, you are on the wrong path. All the killings, all your violence, all your weapons will not bring you security and will not take away your fear.
The ways of peace are ways of peace. Only these can lead to security and peace. Israel and all Israel’s friends must understand that after sixty years of killing and violence, the salvation and the survival of Israel will never be achieved by the present violence.. Israel’s friends must help Israel understand, if their love for Israel is sincere and if they truly care for the human being, whether Israeli or Palestinian, things must change. The present Palestinian Authority has chosen this path of peace, and maintains its right and constant position, even if it has lost its popularity among its own people, who see that these ways of peace facing Israeli violence are fruitless.
The same conversion should happen in the hearts of Israeli Authorities. All their armies, weapons and reprisals are useless and fruitless. Seeking peace can only be achieved through peaceful means.
We call upon all who care for human dignity, and human life to act now without any further delay. We call upon the international community, governments, churches and civil society to exert pressure on Israel to abide by international law and to lift the siege on Gaza and put an end to its military occupation of the Palestinian Territories in accordance with UN resolutions. And to overcome and remove all the obstacles that have hindered the long awaited peace. It takes wisdom and compassion over and above being fair to both parties of this conflict – especially when one is an occupier and the other is occupied. There needs to be an exerted effort and resolve to bring about peace for all: Israelis and Palestinians whereby everybody feels secure and enjoying freedom and equal rights in a democratic sovereign state. No more repetition of invasions and massacres and senseless killing, whether individual or collective as it is happening now in Gaza.
We call on the Churches to assume their responsibilities towards the Holy Land, the land of their roots, if they truly care for their roots, and for the Holy Land and its people. Many churches seem to be indifferent or intimidated to take action. Churches need to put pressure on Israel and also on their governments to end Israeli impunity and hold her accountable. Such Diplomatic pressure is needed now more than ever. It is a question of saving lives but also imposing accountability for criminal acts. As in similar International situations, now is the time for Economic and Military Sanctions .
Almighty God, heavenly Father, hear our prayers. Help us work together towards freedom, justice and peace. Fill our heart with love and compassion and help us achieve just peace without which no security can be guaranteed for anybody. Remind us that we are all created in your image, and that we can all triumph over every evil and live in your peace, and not only by human treaties and agreements.
National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine