Faith leaders urge Brown to act on Gaza

By staff writers
January 9, 2009

Leaders of all major faiths in the UK have today called for an immediate ceasefire and unfettered humanitarian access to Gaza.

In a joint call, faith leaders including the Bishop of Exeter the Rt Rev Michael Langrish, Rabbi Danny Rich and Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary-General of The Muslim Council of Britain demanded that Prime Minister Gordon Brown take further action to end the suffering of ‘the powerless and the vulnerable’.

Sharing ‘a basic commitment to human rights’, they also call on ordinary citizens of the UK to take action saying that ‘we all bear responsibility for what is happening’.

Christian Aid is asking members of the public to email the prime minister telling him: ‘Not in our neighbourhood.’

“Behind all the horrors of death and destruction in Gaza are human faces and human stories. Behind all the statistics for those killed and wounded, on either side, are human beings, each one a child of God” said The Rt Revd Michael Langrish, Bishop of Exeter.

In a call on UK citizens to take a stand the Bishop continued: "When a child of God suffers no believer in God can stand idly by. Urgent action is required to end the violence, to secure immediate and effective humanitarian relief, and to encourage a genuine dialogue for justice and peace."

Rabbi Danny Rich, chief executive of Liberal Judaism, said: "I am convinced that the continuing violence in the region will exacerbate tensions, nurture hatred, and make more difficult a peaceful resolution which is in the interests of both the Palestinian people and the State of Israel.

"I believe that, in accordance with my Jewish teaching and humanitarian instinct, the appropriate reaction is to call for an immediate ceasefire which may prevent further tragedy engulfing the Palestinian civilian population and save injury and worse to both Israelis in uniform and their fellow citizens in their homes."

"I am strengthened by the verse in Isaiah 62:1 “For the sake of Zion I will not be silent” and I am comforted by my confidence and hope that in time the Israeli and Palestinian peoples will have the opportunity to fulfil the Micah 4:4 vision of a land and two states ‘where every person shall sit under the vine or the fig tree and no one shall disturb the other.'

"I am aware that my actions may be misinterpreted and misused by those who have no real interest in supporting peace in the region and would deny the right of the State of Israel to exist, and by those who, fearful of anti-Semitism and anti Israel activity, believe that this is a time for the British Jewish community to speak with one voice."

"I have only gone public with these serious reservations done so after much prayer, reflection and thought. And because I do not wish Israel’s relationship with the EU to be damaged."

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary-General of The Muslim Council of Britain, said: "The scale of this man-made tragedy requires maximum international support and participation.

"While this emergency aid will undoubtedly go a long way toward easing the pain and distress the MCB reaffirms its call for a political solution to that ensures; an end to the siege of Gaza, a reopening of all border crossings and an end to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land."

Stephen Poxon, President of the Methodist Conference, said: "So often during violent conflict the powerless and vulnerable suffer most said .The shelling of schools and other civilian targets is absolutely unacceptable under any circumstances.

"Our hearts go out to the people of Gaza. They have suffered from lack of food and fuel and yet over the past 18 months Israel has often blocked or limited the passage of relief aid. At this critical time both sides must agree to an immediate end to fighting in order that the humanitarian needs can be addressed.

"It is clear that the international community needs to find fresh approaches to managing and resolving this conflict. A new US administration must make the achievement of international consensus a high priority. We commit ourselves to prayer for a lasting resolution built on justice and rights for Israelis and Palestinians."

Graham Sparkes of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said: "The crisis unfolding in Gaza should fill us all with horror because we all bear responsibility for what is happening. Together we share a commitment to basic human rights, and so we cannot allow the current situation to go unchallenged. There must be an immediate ceasefire and the provision of vital humanitarian aid. Nothing less is acceptable.

"When power is used to kill innocent civilians, then it is an abuse of power and must be condemned. A new future can never be shaped by violence; it will come about only through a just settlement that allows the people of Gaza to live with freedom and hope. It is vital we support partners in the region who seek genuine peace with justice."

You can email Gordon Brown to make your voice heard here:

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