As Israel marks its 60th anniversary this May, for Israelis and Palestinians the conflict and the suffering continues. I believe that this landmark is an important opportunity for Christian leaders around the world to add their voices to a special call for a justice-based peace.
To this end a statement has been prepared by myself, along with Philip Rizk, an Egyptian and German currently living in Cairo, which gives Christian leaders an opportunity to speak out with courtesy and love.
The Justpeace60 statement acknowledges the pain of both peoples – and the rights of both peoples to security and dignity. Grounded in biblical truth and supported by pastors, professors, heads of organizations and editors across denominational, national and political lines, this historic statement aims to be be a prophetic cry and a powerful witness.
On May 8, Israeli Independence Day, the joint statement and a full list of signatories will be sent to the national press in the US and UK. To add your name to the list of signatories, or to get a copy of the statement as a Word document, visit: http://justpeace60.blogspot.com/ or drop us an email at the address given below.
On the weblog you will also find a complete list of those who have signed the statement (reproduced in full on there) so far.
They include Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu; the Rev Joel Edwards, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance UK; Brother Andrew; Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and co-founder of Peace People in Northern Ireland; the Rev Malcolm Duncan, Leader of Faithworks; Dr Alan Kreider, Associate Professor of Church History and Mission, Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana; and Christopher Rowland, Dean Ireland's Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture, University of Oxford.
These supporters are joined by bishops, clergy and academics from right across the Christian spectrum. This truly is the wide, representative voice of the churches speaking. And it is growing.
Also among the founding signatories were Ekklesia co-directors Simon Barrow and Jonathan Bartley.
My plea is that people reading this should continue to spread the word - the more people who get behind this call for justice and peace, the more powerful an impact it will be able to make.
As we say, the purpose of the declaration is to "urge all those working for peace and justice in Israel/Palestine to consider that any lasting solution must be built on the foundation of justice, which is rooted in the very character of God. After all, it is justice that “will produce lasting peace and security” (Isaiah 32:17).
"Let us commit ourselves in prophetic word and practical deed to a courageous settlement whose details will honour both peoples’ shared love for the land, and protect the individual and collective rights of Jews and Palestinians in the Holy Land."
The conscious echo here is of the biblical promise: “Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid” (Micah 4:4)
Ben White & Philip Rizk, April 2008
Ben White is a writer and journalist, specializing in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as broader Middle East issues. His articles appear in both secular and Christian publications, including the New Statesman, the UK Guardian's online Comment is Free, Third Way, Fulcrum, and many more. His first book on justice and mission will be published later this year by YTC Press. Since 2003, Ben has made several trips to Israel/Palestine, often working alongside local Christian Palestinian organizations in the Bethlehem area. He graduated from Cambridge University in 2005 and while living in Cambridge, worked as a community worker for his local church and helped organize Christian-Muslim dialogue events. Ben has been a guest speaker at a variety of theological colleges, universities, and churches across the UK.
Philip Rizk is Egyptian and German currently living in Cairo, carrying out graduate work in Middle Eastern Studies and working as a freelance journalist for Daily News Egypt. He lived in Ramallah in 2005 and in Gaza City for two years up until August 2007. During that time he worked with various NGOs carrying out relief and development projects and working as a freelance journalist. Philip has been a guest speaker about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict at various universities and churches in the Middle East and the USA. He graduated from Wheaton College, Illinois USA in 2004.