Action Alerts for Israel/Palestine

Action Alerts for Israel/Palestine Action Alerts for Israel/Palestine

 
Chris Hobgood and John Thomas Address President Bush on Situation in Gaza

The following letter was sent to President Bush from the General Ministers and Presdients of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Rev. Chris Hobgood, and United Church of Christ, the Rev. John Thomas.

Dear Mr. President, Greetings in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace!

We write with grave concern for the prospect of peace in the Middle East and for the Palestinian people who have continued to experience the destruction of their land and property due to systematic home demolitions and the construction of the separation barrier. We voice a special concern for the people of Gaza who, over the past week, have been targeted in a campaign by the Israeli government that has resulted in the destruction of lives and livelihoods of hundreds of Palestinians. This operation comes at a time when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan for Israel to withdraw from Gaza was to move forward. That plan, and the current incursion, seem to place the U.S.-led Road Map on hold. The Road Map itself seems to have been abandoned entirely.

It is ironic that the name of the current military operation is "Rainbow." The story of Noah in our faith tradition tells us that the rainbow is the sign of God's promise to all creation never to destroy it again. This campaign is clearly opposed to the spirit of preservation and protection of humanity and nature. Bulldozers, helicopter gunships, and missiles are the implements of death and devastation, not the tools of security. Israel has killed and injured scores of Palestinians, and completely destroyed dozens of homes leaving more than 2,000 people homeless.

The destruction of lives and livelihoods in Gaza seems to be a different manifestation of the same policy implemented through Israel's construction of the wall, or "security fence." That construction?which encroaches on the occupied West Bank?also drives through villages and residences, dividing Palestinians from their families and fields, and destroying homes in its path. The barrier denies people of all faiths access to their sacred places of worship. Even were the barrier a temporary measure, the effects on peoples' lives are devastating and permanent.

Peace depends on the guarantee of rights and freedom, the safeguarding of dignity and security, for everyone in the Middle East. Regional peace must begin with establishing a just and equitable framework for negotiating an end to the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Both Palestinians and Israelis must show the political will to seek resolutions to their differences. Fair solutions can only be met through balanced negotiations and with respect to the rule of international law. But the first step must be an end to the grotesque violence that merely instigates passions and provokes greater violence in response.

Mr. President, we urge you to do all that is within your power to restrain Israel from further assaults on the Palestinians of Gaza, particularly those refugees living in the Rafah Camp. Mr. President, we appeal to you to seek the acquiescence of Israelis and Palestinians to abide by agreements to stop all forms of violence and to desist from unilateral alterations to the facts on the ground. Mr. President, we implore you to mobilize the resources of your good office to resuscitate the Road Map and to re-engage in the steps necessary to bring about peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Such engagement, we believe, is in the best interest of the United States, and must be a priority for peace-loving people throughout the world. In that vein, please find enclosed our denominations' resolutions from our 2003 General Synod (United Church of Christ)  here and General Assembly (Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)  here on U.S. Policy in the Middle East, which we share for your positive consideration.

Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers as you best seek to lead this country. We thank you very much, in advance, for your time in reading this letter and would be most pleased for your reaction and response.

Very sincerely,

(The Rev.) Chris Hobgood
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

(The Rev.) John H. Thomas
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ


We expect leadership of Bush and Powell. We expect results on Middle East Peace.

Secretary of State Colin Powell has gone to the Middle East, promising this time to give sharp words to Israeli Prime Minister Sharon as well as Palestinian President Arafat. This message is long overdue and we hope Powell will not fail in his mission. US leaders must stop Israel's hand. Israel's indiscriminate attacks threaten 3 million Palestinian civilians still clinging to remnants of their land, and mock the hopes and dreams of them and 4 million additional Palestinian refugees. Sharon's dead-end strategy risks a wider Middle East war and sacrifices the very security Israel holds dear.

Up to now the Bush Administration has laid low in the Middle East, denying that its guns and money are behind the violence of the occupation. Every time Israel has launched its military might against the imperiled Palestinians, it has also flexed its political muscle in the US. As a result, the US has failed to intervene, agreeing instead to tell Palestinians to be good victims and return to the "normalcy" of a quiet occupation.

In the mean time, the conflict has turned to crisis. Sharon has played the terrorist card to tighten Israel's military grip, and desperate Palestinians have lashed out violently against the arrogance of power. But the time to indulge Israeli claims on Palestinian life and liberty is over. The US has said it supports the end of occupation and creation of a Palestinian stateú all peace plans, even Israel's own, would eventually end with it. Now, to make peace even in the midst of fighting, the Administration must work to achieve that "politically and economically viable" Palestinian state without further delay.

From his Birmingham jail, M. L. King, Jr. reminded gradualists that "justice too long delayed is justice denied." We have learned that to do nothing is to allow Israel to increase its stake in the occupation—without international enforcement Israel settled 50% more illegal residents in the Occupied Territories since the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords.

On Bush joined the rest of the world in saying "enough" to Israel. But Israel has responded with "wait until we finish the job." Palestinians have heard "wait" long enough. They are weak and suffering and should not be assaulted any longer. Powell must use this opportunity to apply US pressure where positions are hardest and where real change must be madeú on the hardliners leading Israel. Most Israelis want to end the occupation and know Israel, for its own sake, must. The US must urge Israel to make that difficult choice, assuring Israelis that "justice for all" will not mean the end of US support for Israel.

President Bush, Secretary Powell—We expect leadership. We expect results. Speak out for peace

Please contact US officials and urge them to show leadership toward peace, and pursue our nation's expressed commitment to end Israeli occupation and create a viable Palestinian state. Call your own congressional representatives and tell them to support the Administration's policy and Powell's success in withdrawing Israeli troops and holding Israel, too, responsible for its contribution to the crisis of violence.

The President
202-456-1111 comment line
202-261-8577 fax
  president@whitehouse.gov

The Honorable Colin Powell
202-647-6575 comment line
202-261-8577 fax
  secretary@state.gov

Members of Congress
202-224-3121 Capitol Switchboard
The switchboard can transfer you to your members' offices and provide your members' e-mails or fax numbers, or search  www.house.gov

or  www.senate.gov.

Other ways to get involved

For information on the national Middle East Prayer Vigil and the petition "A Christian Call for Peace," see globalministries.org or www.cmep.org.

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