End this blind faith in violence, says WCC leader
As Israeli jets renewed air strikes on Beirut yesterday, despite a Hezbollah threat to bomb Tel Aviv in retaliation, an appeal to "do whatever is possible to stop the bombings, [to] negotiate a cease-fire and [achieve] a comprehensive peace settlement" was addressed today by the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary, the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia, to "the leaders of the international community, especially to those from the United States, Israel and the United Kingdom".
The appeal coincided with a claim by British PM Tony Blair, who has rejected calls to push for an immediate cease-fire, that a United Nations formula to end the killing was ìdays awayî.
The World Council of Churchesí appeal also calls on the Israeli government to "give guarantees that humanitarian organisations will be allowed unhindered access to those in need of assistance" ñ something which relief agencies say has been denied.
"Our hearts cry out to the leaders of the international community", says Dr Kobia, who describes the current fighting as "a war of ominous dimension and of far-reaching consequences" that is causing "unimaginable and untold suffering to the people in Lebanon".
While "a major tragedy continues to unfold in the troubled region of the Middle East", the world sees the "shocking and disgraceful" spectacle of world leaders announcing "in a most callous manner that fighting will continue till strategic military objectives are met".
What they are really saying, Dr Kobia alleges, is that "more people can continue to be killed while they take their time to settle their political differences". And affirms that "blind faith in military violence to resolve disputes and disagreements is totally unwarranted, illegal and immoral".
Judging that the present "disproportionate acts of violence of immense magnitude can have no justification," he notes that the United Nations Security Council "has been paralysed by the power and politics of the dominant nations and its charter undermined".
The WCC general secretary offers prayers for "all the people of Lebanon, Muslims and Christians alike" and "the people of Israel who have fallen victims to the missiles that continue to be fired indiscriminately into their towns and villages".
The World Council of Churches is working on putting together a pastoral delegation to Lebanon, an initiative that is on hold for the time being given security concerns and logistical difficulties.
But Christian, Muslim and secular aid agencies held a media conference in Beirut yesterday to call for an immediate cease-fire.
[Also on Ekklesia: Church group goes directly to Beirut to call for a ceasefire 03/08/06; Development agencies petition Tony Blair for an immediate ceasefire 02/08/06; Unite for MidEast peace, say US Sikhs, Christians, Muslims and Jews 01/08/07; Lebanon destruction a 'crime against humanity' says aid group 30/07/06; No way to security through fighting, says Holy Land bishop 29/07/06; 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 imperiling 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]