A Middle Eastern conference in November has called on ‘brothers and sisters in the worldwide church’ to protest the injustices perpetrated on the Palestinian people by a repressive Israeli military regime in the name of reconciliation.
The Seventh International Sabeel Conference Nazareth and Jerusalem focusing on the ‘Nakba’ or catastrophe recognised ‘the irony in the coincidence that this year, as well as being the 60th anniversary of the 1948 partition of Palestine, marks the birth of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the same year.
‘The establishment of peace with justice requires that the full truth be told about the events of 1948 and the subsequent displacement of hundreds of thousands more Palestinian citizens in 1967, a process which has continued to the present day.’
A report from the November 12 – 19 conference says the human rights of Palestinian people continue to be crushed under a military occupation that dehumanises both oppressed and oppressor.
‘We acknowledge the truth that our silence about the status of the Palestinian people equals complicity in this ongoing tragedy. The status quo is a crime against humanity.’
Conference attendees number some 200 Christians from five continents and they say an entire generation of children is being crippled because they have no access to the nutrition needed for normal growth and development ‘and thus endure spiritual and social alienation, violence and lack of opportunities which none of us would tolerate even for a day in our own communities’.
‘Therefore we call upon all our churches and governments:
• to work with renewed energy for an end to this endlessly spreading military occupation;
• to insist on full implementation of all United Nations resolutions and all human rights requirements in international law which pertain to Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories and the right of return for Palestinian refugees;
• to insist on greater freedom of movement and more humane conditions in the occupied territories;
• to insist that Israel accord equal rights to all its citizens, Jewish and Palestinian alike;
• to divest themselves from investments in companies that enable the occupation;
• to insist that Israel lift its ongoing siege and collective punishments which prevent the free movement of people, goods and humanitarian aid in and out of Gaza; and
• to support the work of Sabeel in its efforts to build bridges of nonviolence between people in all the monotheistic religions represented in the region.
Image: Part of a wall being built to keep Palestinians out of Isreaeli-occupied areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.