No way to security through fighting, says Holy Land bishop
Holy Land Lutheran Bishop Munib Younan says the only way to stop all the military operations in the region and to ensure that no more human life is taken, is to negotiate around the unsolved and urgent core issue: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ñ writes Michele Green for Ecumenical News International.
"It is time to negotiate around the unsolved and urgent core issue," said Bishop Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land in a pastoral letter made available on 27 July 2006. "Justice will be served and the conflict ended when we achieve a shared Jerusalem, the respect of the rights of the refugees, two states living side by side in peace and security according to international law. Now is the time to serve justice with action, not words or plans or maps."
Younan joined the call by global religious leaders for an end to Middle East violence as Al-Qaeda's deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri urged Muslims in a message recorded for television to attack Israel and its allies over the violence in the Middle East involving a war with the Lebanon-based group Hezbollah.
Bishop Munib Younan called on the sides to engage in negotiations to end the violence.
"We must reject the idea that we can fight our way to peace and security...we cannot," Younan wrote in his letter. "The Holy Scriptures insist that there is a 'time for every season under heaven'. Is this not the time, the 'kairos moment' for Israel, Palestine, the United States, Europe, the Arab countries and all others to repent and say we did not hear the Lord's voice lifting up 'justice and only justice'? Instead, we see a world where we allow injustice to prevail at a gut-wrenching cost of human life, freedom and dignity."
More than 400 people have been killed in Lebanon and more than 40 in Israel in the two weeks since fighting erupted when Hezbollah fighters abducted two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid into northern Israel and began firing thousands of rockets into Israel. Israel's air strikes have damaged Hezbollah installations but also badly hit civilian infrastructure in Lebanon.
Bishop Younan said, "This is a moral, spiritual and political crisis of global proportions. As a Lutheran Bishop, my plea is for all Christians to commit themselves to prayer and fasting to seek God's empowerment in addressing the call to repent and seek justice. This includes urging Christians to go beyond their excellent relief and emergency work to secure the future for a just peace."
Update: US President George W. Bush says that an international force must be swiftly sent to Lebanon, following talks with British PM Tony Blair. Meanwhile the United Nations has called for a humanitarian cease-fire.
With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.
[Also on Ekklesia: Blair to press Bush for ceasefire as churches push for peace 28/07/06; Israel sees ceasefire hesitancy as a green light for its Lebanon bombing 27/07/06; Mennonites call on USA and Canada to pursue non-violent alternatives 27/07/06; Christian groups urge Blair to back ceasefire calls 26/07/06; South African churches propose bold Middle East conflict transformation process 26/07/06; Why violence cannot solve Lebanon or Gaza Strip showdowns 24/07/06; Christian Aid emergency appeal swings into action 24/07/06; Mennonites issue action alert on Middle East crisis 24/07/06; Middle East churches document and condemn Lebanon horror 23/07/06; US churches appeal to Bush as Israel seizes Lebanese village 23/07/06; Aid agencies say Blair must call for immediate Middle East ceasefire 22/07/06; WCC urges churches to support Middle East appeals 21/07/06; Churches redouble efforts and prayers for an end to Middle East hostilities 21/07/06; Williams laments Lebanon vicious spiral of violence 20/07/06; Gaza, Israel and Lebanon crises are imperilling Middle East security 19/07/06; Historic Galilee sites hit by rocket attacks 18/07/06; Pope condemns Lebanon raids as G8 converges and Blair blames Iran and Syria 17/07/06; Christians call for end to Lebanon violence as Israel vows revenge 16/07/06; Middle East Christians in anguish over Lebanon violence 14/07/06; Embattled Hezbollah backs Iraq 'doves of peace'; Christian warnings substantiated as Israel targets Hamas; Ex-spy wages peace on terror in the Middle East]