Over many years, the National Council of Churches has often expressed our aspirations and sorrows, our confidence and fears, related to an eventual peace in the Middle East.
At this time,
- Inter-communal violence is consuming Israel and the Palestinian Territories
- Terrorism and civil conflict are raining fire upon Syria and Iraq
- Horrific acts of terrorism have recently taken place in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad and many other cities around the world
- Afghanistan is sliding back into chaos
- Refugees are fleeing the region and entering Europe in large numbers with no end of suffering on the horizon
- Religious minorities are being persecuted, and sectarian strife is affecting Christian, Muslim and Jewish populations.
As we approach the celebration of the birth of Christ our hearts are filled with sorrow and fear that peace will remain out of reach in the Middle East for much longer than we could ever have imagined.
We have no illusions that establishing peace will be easy. We lament that the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine is ever more elusive and negotiations are not taking place. We pray for a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict. We call upon religious communities to build upon their historic legacies of inter-religious relationships, dialogue and action. When all these are in sight, we can envision peace. And yet such a vision seems hard to fathom today.
Still, we remain people of hope. The Lord we follow, Jesus Christ, died a violent death. But he was resurrected from the dead in the singular miraculous event that is at the core of our belief. Thus the hope of resurrection, and of the eternal life and profound peace it symbolizes, permeates our being and calls us to be vigilant in our hope for peace in the region where he lived among us.
We witness to this hope for peace with our fellow Christians in the region. We stand together with our Muslim and Jewish and other sisters and brothers of goodwill who seek peace there. As the National Council of Churches, we will continue to encourage our churches and congregations to support a renewed peace settlement as the only option. And we call upon the United States government and the United Nations to enforce previous commitments towards a just peace and do everything to ensure that a just peace has a chance to emerge from today’s chaos and destruction.
Adopted by the National Council of Churches Governing Board, November 17, 2015.