June 2, 2010
Contact: Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East
Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East is deeply concerned about the loss of life and renews its call for a negotiated peace in light of the tragic events that followed the attempt by the flotilla to break Israel's blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
According to Rev. Dr. Peter A. Pettit of Muhlenberg College "if there is anything to be learned from this tragedy it is that efforts to help Israelis and Palestinians reach a negotiated peace must be heightened. The parties' inability to resolve this sixty-year conflict and the deplorable reality that war always ends up harming civilians make this a mandate for us."
Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton, Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College, adds that "neither church leaders who rush to condemn Israel for a disproportionate response nor pro-Israel advocates who place all the blame on the side of the flotilla activists are particularly helpful here. We must remember that this tragedy has taken place in the context of a conflict between equally legitimate yet competing claims for Jewish and Palestinian national expression."
"Surely this could have been avoided," says Rev. Dr. James R. Noland, Senior Pastor at Reveille United Methodist Church. "The flotilla leadership refused Israel's offer to dock at Ashdod where Israel said it would inspect the cargo and send humanitarian supplies by truck to Gaza. Whatever we may think of the Gaza blockade , both Israel and Egypt believe it necessary to stem massive arms-building by Hamas. Thus an untenable situation was created. Israel failed to think creatively and embarked upon a military confrontation that courted tragedy. While five out of six of the flotilla ships were boarded peacefully, video footage reveals Israeli commandos being mobbed and attacked with clubs as they landed on the Mavi Marmara. The result was the tragic death of nine people."