Presiding Bishop on Gaza attacks

A statement on the attacks in Gaza from the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church:

Yesterday afternoon in New York, outside the Episcopal Church Center, a demonstration took place in front of the Israeli consulate. The demonstrators included orthodox Jews. All were calling for an immediate end to the attacks in Gaza. I join my voice to theirs and those of many others around the world, challenging the Israeli government to call a halt to this wholly disproportionate escalation of violence. I challenge the Palestinian forces to end their rocket attacks on Israelis. I further urge the United States government to use its influence to get these parties back to the negotiating table and end this senseless killing. President-elect Obama needs to be part of this initiative, which demands his attention now and is likely to do so through his early months in office. I urge a comprehensive response to these attacks. Innocent lives are being lost throughout the land we all call Holy, and as Christians remember the coming of the Prince of Peace, we ache for the absence of peace in the land of his birth.

Immediate attention should focus on vital humanitarian assistance to the suffocating people of Gaza. In March of this year, I spent a day in Gaza visiting religious and community leaders and the Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. Since that visit, the situation, which was already devastating, has only worsened, with supplies of food, fuel, power, and medical supplies either cut off or indefinitely delayed. Our hospital must now try to treat the wounded under the most impossible circumstances.

I ask all people of faith to join with the Episcopalians in Jerusalem who this Sunday dispensed with their usual worship services and spent their time in prayer for those who are the objects of this violence. I pray for leaders who will seek a just peace for all in the Middle East, knowing that its achievement will only come when they have the courage to act boldly. But they must do so now, before the violence escalates further. It is only through a just and lasting peace that the hope of the ages can be fulfilled, that hope which we mark in the birth of a babe in Bethlehem.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church
December 29, 2008

Donations to assist victims of the violence can be made here.

The New York Times reports the latest on the attacks on Gaza.

CNN reports on the humanitarian aid needs.

UPDATE:
Roman Catholic and Jewish statements are here.

Woodchip Gazette - Journal gives background and comments on the attacks.
Below are comments from other Christian leaders around the world:

Statement from Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, The Rt. Rev. Thabo Makgoba
Monday 29th December 2008. Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has added his voice to those calling for an immediate end to hostilities in Gaza.

'Watching the news, I could not help but join in the tears of Jesus, who wept over the land of his birth, and prayed for peace to reign' the Archbishop of Cape Town said.

'Christmas reminds us that God took human form in Jesus Christ, vividly demonstrating the sanctity of all human life. This is not negotiable, and must be respected by all sides through an immediate end to violence. My prayer is that the tragic events of recent days will spur everyone in the region, and in the international community, to intensify efforts towards establishing a just and lasting peace in the land of our Saviour's birth.' He added, 'Christians who believe that Jesus came to be "Prince of Peace", and all people of good will, must work and pray for true peace to come not only to Gaza and Israel, but to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to Somalia, and to everywhere where there is conflict.'


Ekklesia reports that the Methodists in the UK are calling the international community to action on this event:
In light of the escalating conflict in Gaza over the last 24 hours, the Methodist Church is calling for international pressure on both Israel and Hamas to bring an end to the violence.

Steve Hucklesby, Public Issues Policy Advisor, said: "The devastating death toll resulting from Israeli air strikes has shocked many. Rather than improving security, this action by Israel could compound conflict in the region.

"It is also likely to make it more difficult to bring regional powers together in a search for solutions. Both Hamas and Israel must respond to the UN Security Council call for an immediate end to all military operations."

He continued: "We call on the European Union, the United States and the United Nations to bring increased pressure on Israel and on Hamas to refrain from violence. At this time of year when the focus of Christians around the world is on the Holy Land we pray for courageous leadership in the cause of peace.

And in another story Ekklesia reports:

Vigils are being organised in London this weekend to protest the Israeli military strikes in Gaza today, which have killed around 200 people and injured scores more.

The demonstrations will take place on Sunday 28 December from 2.00 pm - 4.00 pm and on Monday 29 December from 4.00pm – 6.00pm, both opposite the Israeli Embassy in Kensington High Street.

Comments (1)

The key word in Jefferts Schori's statement is "disproportionate" -- the same issue as arose in the Russian-Georgian conflict during the US presidential campaign.

The appeal for president-elect Obama to do something is interesting. According to the NYT, "Obama defers to Bush, for now." Further, When President-elect Barack Obama went to Israel in July — to the very town, in fact, whose repeated shelling culminated in this weekend’s new fighting in Gaza — he all but endorsed the punishing Israeli attacks now unfolding. “If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep
at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that,” he told
reporters in Sderot, a small city on the edge of Gaza that has been hit
repeatedly by rocket fire. “And I would expect Israelis to do the same
thing.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/29/washington/29diplo.html?_r=1&em

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