A NEW set of online resources have been launched to help people speak more confidently about the situation in the Middle East.

The international development agency Christian Aid understands people may shy away from conversations about Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, seeing it as too difficult, controversial or uncomfortable.

To combat this, the organisation has come up with a range of resources to help build people’s understanding and break the silence, through conversations about a just peace.

William Bell, Christian Aid’s Head of Middle East Policy and Advocacy explained: “The lives of Israelis and Palestinians have been shaped by collective loss, trauma and fear, and the war in Gaza has demonstrated how urgently people in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory need a just peace.

“Every day, ordinary Palestinians and Israelis stand up for dignity, equality and a just peace, often at great cost. We want to stand with them and encourage others to do the same.”

Christian Aid’s website now includes a section on finding out more about the charity’s campaign for a just peace.

People can download a booklet containing first-hand accounts of life in Israel and Gaza, the history behind the current situation and facts about the barriers to peace; a reflection from William Bell, on the urgent need for understanding and peace; and a report entitled ‘Where is Palestine? A story of loss, inequality and failure’ which provides a snapshot of the reality many Palestinians face daily across the occupied Palestinian territory.

There is also information on how to join the call for a ceasefire in Gaza by lobbying decision makers and signing a petition, or hosting a screening of the film The Tinderbox; and details of monthly Prayers for Peace in the Middle East gatherings. The resources have received support from senior church leaders in this country as well as in Jerusalem.

The Rt Rev Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani is Bishop of Chelmsford and Vice-President of the Conference of European Churches. Born in Iran, her family left the country in the wake of the Iranian Revolution in 1980, when she was 13, and to date she has been unable to return.

Bishop Guli said: “I recently visited the Holy Land and heard first-hand accounts of the deep pain and trauma being experienced by Israelis and Palestinians. I also heard an important challenge to the Church in the west to do more to speak out for peace.

“For many of us, the complexity of the situation makes us reluctant to engage, for fear of getting it wrong or doing more harm than good. The ‘Just Peace’ resources from Christian Aid are offered to help people better understand the issues and feel more confident to talk about the path to peace. I welcome their publication and encourage people to make use of them.”

Dean Richard Sewell, previously Team Rector of Barnes Team Ministry, in South West London, took up the post of Dean of St George’s College in Jerusalem in 2018. He said: “Everything to do with Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory is notoriously complicated. So much so, that many people feel inhibited from entering into discussion about such important topics as justice for Palestinians and peaceful pathways to reconciliation with Israel. This excellent resource from Christian Aid helps to address that dilemma.

“The way to deal with complexity is not over-simplification but it must involve providing digestible information clearly laid out which the non-expert can comprehend. Just Peace manages to achieve exactly that, so I welcome this resource, not as the final word, but as a very helpful, detailed introduction. I am certain it will be valuable for people seeking a well-researched overview. I commend Just Peace for anyone who wishes to speak and act for justice in Israel and Palestine.”

* Access the Just Peace resources here.

* Source: Christian Aid