Editorial

World Council of Churches' cry of agony and despair over Israeli violence

Friday, May 18, 2018

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Christian churches, for the most part, have long held that Jews are the chosen people of God, and they have generally looked the other way when Israel was using deadly weapons to mow down stone-throwing Arab men, women and children.

One can therefore understand this week's cry of agony and despair uttered by the Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC), the umbrella organisation for 348 member churches who together represent more than half a billion Christians around the globe.

In a press statement, Wednesday, the WCC roundly condemned the use of excessive violence by Israeli forces against civilian protestors in Gaza during last week, and said it was particularly “worried that some Christians are celebrating the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem as a gift from God, despite the disruptively provocative nature of this move”.

“The military responses to the demonstrations in Gaza have resulted in the deaths of many people, including several children, and injuries to thousands — and the numbers are still growing. This violence and bloodshed must be condemned by the international community and must be subject to international investigation. The situation calls for a deeper understanding that lies behind these events,” the WCC said.

The intensity of the bloodshed between the Jews and the Palestinians has long defied logic and yeoman efforts by the international community to pacify the violence and get the children of Abraham to live in peace.

Indeed, the land occupied by the Jews and the Palestinians, ironically called the Holy Land, must be the area of the world most soaked with blood and bereft of peace and harmony, even while enjoying the wealth bestowed in oil and gas.

Christians with a conscience must find it hard to fathom how such warring people could be called the chosen of a loving compassionate God, yet showing no love and compassion for each other.

“It is a very serious situation for the churches locally — and globally — that some Christians are thanking God for a decision [the US embassy relocation which triggered the violence] that is so blatantly against international law and policy, so much undermining the peace process based on a common international understanding of the rights of both peoples to share Jerusalem as their capital…This should concern all who understand their religious faith as compelling them to work for reconciliation and peace,” WCC said.

By design or coincidence, the WCC came into being at its first assembly in 1948 — the same year that the Israeli State was established, marking a new and more bloody phase in the Palestinian-Jewish conflict that Christians trace back to Abraham's two sons, Ishmael and Isaac.

The church grouping feared that more and possibly greater violence is yet to come springing from US President Donald Trump's decision to reverse a long-standing decision by previous US administrations not to put the embassy in the disputed city.

From what we have seen, this is proving to be a case in which the greater wisdom would have been to let sleeping dogs lie.

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