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ECAJ Response to Church statement

ב' סיון ה' אלפים תשס"ח


No doubt many of the Heads of Churches who subscribed to the “Statement on Palestine and Israel” issued in Canberra on 4 June 2008 are motivated by good intentions, but the Statement manifests a serious lack of balance and a naïve and simplistic view of what is required to achieve peace in the Holy Land.

It is not enough merely to observe that there is suffering by Palestinians and Israelis. Nowhere does the Statement take account of six decades of threats to Israel’s very existence, or the successive wars of extermination launched against Israel by her neighbours.

It is also conspicuously silent on the openly expressed ambitions of Hamas, Hezbollah, and their sponsor Iran, to eliminate Israel and drive out or exterminate its Jewish population.

The Statement forfeits its claim to moral authority by failing even to mention, let alone condemn, the deliberate and systematic targeting of Israel’s civilian population by Palestinian terrorist organisations and the resultant deaths and injuries.

Nor, when dealing with the Palestinians, does the Statement acknowledge the shameful refusal of Arab regimes (other than Jordan) to absorb Palestinian refugees and the equally shameful manipulation of the refugee problem by those governments for 60 years to serve their own ends.

The Statement highlights what it refers to as the “dispossession” of the Palestinians, without providing the vital historical context, and expresses no compassion for the equivalent number of Jews who were expelled from Arab countries after 1948, after being stripped of their citizenship, property and livelihoods, and who were resettled in Israel when no-one else would take them in.

Remarkably, the Heads of Churches who signed the Statement fail to mention that Jews and Christians in the Middle East are often persecuted, and their holy sites desecrated, by Muslim regimes whereas Israel has a proud record of protecting all faiths and their respective holy sites.

Most tellingly , the Statement canvasses the possibility of a “one state solution”, which all realistic observers of the Middle East recognise would mean the demise of Israel and its replacement by a Palestinian State in which the Jewish population would be reduced from a majority to a persecuted minority. 

This makes the Statement’s appeal to the “implementation of international law” hypocritical. International inquiries into the conflict since 1937, the landmark resolutions of the UN since 1947, and statements issued by the current Quartet, comprising the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and the United States, have accepted that two States for two peoples is the only just and sustainable solution.

We note with appreciation that a large number of members of the National Council of Churches in Australia have not subscribed to the Statement.
4 June 2008

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