Monday, July 20, 2009

Christians For Fair Witness Praises Episcopal Church for Refusing to Take Unbalanced Stand on Israel/Palestine

Activism of moderate Christians on behalf of fair play for Israel has had at least some impact on the flood of divestment, boycott and other anti-Israel initiatives that are the fruit of pro-Palestinian and anti-Semitic activism in mainline Protestant churches.

July 20, 2009
Contact: Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East
(212) 870-2320
Christians For Fair Witness Praises Episcopal Church for Refusing to Take Unbalanced Stand on Israel/Palestine
The 2009 Episcopal General Convention ("GC") made a strong statement on July 17th when the House of Bishops refused to pass the Israel/Palestine resolution which called for dismantling Israel's security barrier and ending the blockade of the Gaza Strip without demanding an end to Palestinian terrorism.  Several bishops who opposed the defeated resolution said they favored a more balanced approach.
"Fair Witness was initially concerned because we were the only ones at the GC testifying at Legislative Committee hearings in opposition to the resolution," said Sr. Ruth Lautt, O.P.  "But we were heartened by calls for balance coming from the House of Bishops."
 "Some statements coming from supporters of the resolution were reflective of  appropriate concern for Palestinian suffering, but also reflective of both a lack of similar concern for Israeli suffering and a serious misunderstanding of the factual realities in the region," said Fr. James Loughran, Director of the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute.  "One Bishop actually said that the 'wall' did not contribute to the lessening of suicide bombings.  The security barrier, problematic as it is for Palestinians, not only lessened suicide bombings coming from the West Bank – which had taken the lives of over one thousand Israelis --  it virtually eliminated them."
Even more disturbing was the fact that some of the Bishops who spoke in support of the resolution said that balanced language was taken out specifically to get the attention of the Israeli community.
"Integrity in the churches' approach to this conflict demands fairness and an understanding of all the facts on the ground," said Rev. Dr. Peter Pettit of Muhlenberg College.  "It requires the church to be an honest witness.  The House of Bishops made this choice for integrity when it refused to use misrepresentation to provoke a response from a nation state."
 "This is an historic moment," said Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton, Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.  "Prayerful discernment, a gift of the Holy Spirit, prevented the Episcopal Church from passing unbalanced legislation on the Arab/Israeli conflict at this GC.  I am deeply gratified by the stand taken by the House of Bishops and proud of my church."

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