As the 60th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel approaches, Western church leaders are putting their names to a historic joint declaration, originated in Britain, calling for a just peace in Palestine/Israel. Desmond Tutu is among the growing number of signatories.
Recognising that for many Israelis and Jews around the world, this landmark is a cause for joyful celebration, the declaration goes on to recognise that Palestinians will mark the same occasion by remembering 60 years since the Nakba (Catastrophe).
Furthermore, for the Palestinians, it says: "This day is not just about the remembrance of a past catastrophic dispossession, dispersal, and loss; it is also a reminder that their struggle for self-determination and restitution is ongoing."
Signatories to the declaration “acknowledge with sorrow” that since 1948, “many of us in the church worldwide” have not shown to the Palestinians the same kind of solidarity afforded to the Israelis, “deaf to their cries of pain and distress”.
The declaration concludes, "We therefore 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."
Since the declaration began circulation in mid-March 2008, a large number and variety of Christian leaders have added their names to this call for a just peace. Current signatories include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire, the National Director World Vision in Jerusalem, Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding (EMEU), Brother Andrew, International Chair of YWAM Lynn Green, Amos Trust, Friends of Sabeel UK, to name but a few.
Spokesperson Ben White told Ekklesia: "So far, there are Presbyterians, Baptists, Catholics, Pentecostals, around a dozen Church of England bishops, theologians and professors, but there is still plenty of time for new signatories. The declaration will stay open until May 8, Israel’s official Independence Day, when it will be sent to the national press in the UK and US."
The religion and society think tank Ekklesia is backing the independent initiative. Co-director Simon Barrow commented: "A just peace between Israelis and Palestinians is both vital and possible. So is global solidarity to that end."
He added: "This declaration joins human and Christian compassion for two wounded people's with the political passion to see right prevail. It is timely and essential."
To find out more, visit the Justpeace60 blog at http://justpeace60.blogspot.com  If you are a Christian leader and wish to add your own name, email: justpeace60ATgmailDOTcom