Churches urged to act together to end Gaza 'scandal'

By staff writers
21 May 2012

The churches should act together to get the British government to act for an end to the Israeli blockade on Gaza, the Kirk Assembly has agreed.

The vote came in response to an amendment to a deliverance (motion) at the Church of Scotland's governing body meeting in Edinburgh.

The need for the Kirk's Church and Society Council to work in cooperation with the World Mission Council and UK ecumenical partners to this end was proposed by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Rev John Arnott.

He spoke of his own direct experience in the territory of Gaza, and the sufferings of its people, following Operation Cast Lead and other subsequent developments.

"Lives are still being wasted, oppression is still happening and children are still dying," he declared with quiet passion.

The Moderator cited the common feeling of representatives of some major Christian Churches in Britain when they met with Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, at Lambeth Palace in January 2012. This included the Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, the Most Rev Patrick Kelly, and the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Dr Rowan Williams.

Mr Arnott also quoted a plea to the Assembly in 1948 for the finding of a way whereby "Jew and Arab may live together" in peace.

The meeting focused on the plight of Christians in the Holy Land and an overview of the political situation affecting the ongoing peace process in Palestine-Israel.

"Having worshipped in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve, I have seen the struggle of the Palestinian people in the very basics of living but also their deep desire for a negotiated peace between the peoples who share the land. I urge everyone to grasp this opportunity," commented the Rt Rev Arnott at that meeting - a sentiment he echoed to the Church of Scotland General Assembly.

Former Kirk Moderator the Rev John B. Cairns added that when he went to Gaza in 2007, he was appalled by what he saw and the conditions under which people lived. Sadly, he said, things had not just stayed the same, they had got worse.

The Rev Ian W. Alexander of the Kirk's World Mission Council welcomed the initiative, and said that it was important that direct communications were made with people in Gaza, so that they experienced support and solidarity.

An attempt to require the Kirk's Church and Society Council to include Israeli government and allied claims to achieve 'balance' in its reports on Palestine was firmly rejected, and the proper attention of Church Scotland representatives and partners to facts on the ground affirmed.

* EVENT Scottish Palestinian Forum open meeting (in association with World Mission Council) - ‘When politics fails: the role of the churches in bringing a just peace to Israel/Palestine’
Speaker: Mark Braverman, author of Fatal Embrace: Christians, Jews and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land
Discussant: Simon Barrow, Co-director of the theological think tank, Ekklesia
Chair: Very Rev Dr Andrew McLellan, Convener, World Mission Council
Wednesday 23 May 2012, 12.30pm at St Columba’s by the Castle, EH1 2PR. Admission free.
If you would like to have a sandwich lunch provided, please text your name and any dietary restrictions a day in advance to 0753 152 8789 (suggested donation for lunch £2.)
Further information available from: chairATscottishpalestinianforum.org.uk

[Ekk/3]

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