Peace Not Wallshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/LWF Advocates for Gaza Reconstruction: World Not Delivering on Gaza Reconstruction Promises, New Report WarnsPeace Not Wallshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/233http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/233<div class="ExternalClass020112226D614E4EAEBB34AD8B1DB95E"><p style="margin-top&#58;15px;margin-bottom&#58;15px;line-height&#58;1.5;color&#58;#484f57;background-color&#58;#ffffff;"><span style="font-family&#58;calibri;font-size&#58;17.3333339691162px;">The international community must urgently change its approach to Gaza and deliver on promises of reconstruction, The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) together with 45 other agencies said today in a new report on the lack of progress since last year's conflict.</span></p><p style="margin-top&#58;15px;margin-bottom&#58;15px;line-height&#58;1.5;color&#58;#484f57;background-color&#58;#ffffff;"><span style="font-family&#58;calibri;font-size&#58;17.3333339691162px;">“Six months since donors pledged $3.5 billion towards Gaza's recovery, many people are worse off and not a single one of the 19,000 destroyed homes has been rebuilt. 100,000 people are still homeless and many are living in makeshift camps or schools,” the report says.</span></p><p style="margin-top&#58;15px;margin-bottom&#58;15px;line-height&#58;1.5;color&#58;#484f57;background-color&#58;#ffffff;"><span style="font-family&#58;calibri;font-size&#58;17.3333339691162px;">The report, &quot;Charting a New Course&#58; Overcoming the stalemate in Gaza,&quot; warns that further conflict is inevitable—and with it the cycle of destruction and donor-funded reconstruction—unless world leaders implement a new approach that addresses the underlying causes of the conflict. Donors must insist on a permanent ceasefire, accountability of all parties for ongoing violations of international law, and an end to the Israeli blockade that seals in 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza and keeps them separated from the West Bank. Rather than challenging the blockade, the report found that most donors are accepting ways to work around it.</span></p><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;font-family&#58;calibri;font-size&#58;17.3333339691162px;">Text above&#160;from LWF news release. <a href="http&#58;//www.lutheranworld.org/news/lwf-advocates-gaza-reconstruction">Click here for full text.&#160;​</a></span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;calibri;font-size&#58;17.3333339691162px;">​Further details, including a copy of the report, <a href="http&#58;//www.aidajerusalem.squarespace.com/new-cour-in-gaza-campaign">can be found here</a>.&#160;&#160;​</span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;calibri;font-size&#58;17.3333339691162px;"><a href="http&#58;//download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource%20Repository/Final_Letter_On_Gaza_Dec_2014.pdf">Click here​</a> for the December 2014 letter signed by the ELCA about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.</span></p></div>04/13/2015Easter Message from the Heads of Churches of JerusalemPeace Not Wallshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/232http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/232<div class="ExternalClassF2FC5B3D300C40EF80244447D2422A9E"><p>​The&#160;​​Easter Message of&#160;the&#160;​Heads of Churches in​&#160;Jerusalem states,</p><div>&quot;Along with all people of good will, we are deeply distressed by the level of violence still being falsely perpetrated in the name of religion in parts of the Middle East and elsewhere in recent times. Members of some of the ancient Christian communities in this region – especially in Egypt, Iraq and Syria – have been among those most directly affected, along with other minority populations. &#160; There is no true religion which advocates violation of the human person or the victimization of minority groups in society and we condemn such actions in the strongest possible terms. Those who engage in such barbaric behaviour dehumanize not only their victims, but themselves.</div><div><br></div><div>In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we urge people everywhere not to fall into despair. The very existence of this city of Jerusalem is paradoxically a sign of hope that God’s kingdom of peace, love and justice will prevail. There are indeed signs of darkness around us which make this a painful time to live through, but the darkest part of the night is often shortly before the dawn. The joyful proclamation of the Resurrection at dawn on Easter Sunday assures us that the last word lies not with violence and inhumanity but with God’s purpose of love, justice and hope which runs like a thread throughout history and will find its ultimate fulfillment in the coming fullness of his Kingdom.​&quot;</div><div><br></div><div><a href="http&#58;//en.lpj.org/2015/04/01/easter-message-of-the-heads-of-churches-in-jerusalem/">Full text of Easter Message&#160;​​​</a></div></div>04/02/2015Easter Message from Bishop Younan Peace Not Wallshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/231http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/231<div class="ExternalClass1CC4BD35275241C8BBC721F6073237BD"><p>In his Easter mesage from Jerusalem,&#160;Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), writes, &quot;But&#160;at this moment, I am telling my people to hold fast to the hope of the resurrection. We must always look to the empty tomb, trusting that because Christ is risen, God will never allow any stone to crush our spirit. Because Christ is risen, God will not allow the hearts of politicians and world leaders to remain cold as stone, caring only for their own interests and power. Because Christ is risen, God will not allow these peoples to be divided forever. Because the stone was already rolled back on that resurrection morning, we hold steadfast in the hope that God is at work even now, opening the eyes of the politicians, the churches, and the world—even as God has opened the tomb.&quot;&#160;</p><p><a href="http&#58;//www.elcjhl.org/2015/04/02/the-easter-message-for-2015/">Full text of the Easter Message​</a></p></div>04/02/2015Peace Not Walls Action Alert: Help End Augusta Victoria Hospital Cash Crisis Peace Not Wallshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/230http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/230<div class="ExternalClass6803B88910034EDFAE2374D0BDD78CBB"><span class="xc_maintext"><p><span style="font-family&#58;verdana, geneva;">Last November, with the help of ELCA members like you, advocates for the Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH), operated by <a href="http&#58;//lwfjerusalem.org/projects/avh/">The Lutheran World Federation</a> in East Jerusalem, applauded the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for releasing more than $13 million in helping relieve the cash flow crisis facing the hospital. AVH is again facing a cash flow crisis as a result of the inability of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to pay the fees for the patients it referred to AVH during the period of June through December 2014.</span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;verdana, geneva;">The funding from USAID, along with a similar contribution from the European Union, covered debt owed to the Hospital by the Palestinian Authority for patients referred by the PA to the AVH for medical care provided during the year 2013 through mid-May 2014.</span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;verdana, geneva;">Even though the PA made an additional payment of the equivalent of approximately $263,000 in December 2014, unfortunately, the uncovered costs of care for the rest of 2014 (about $16.6 million) as well as 2015 have not been met because the PA’s budgetary shortfalls persist.&#160; Meanwhile, the costs for patients referred to the AVH continue to mount at the rate of between $2 and $2.5 million per month.</span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;verdana, geneva;">The situation has taken on considerable urgency again because the PA's already precarious financial situation has been exacerbated by the Israeli government’s recent decision to freeze $127 million in tax revenues as well as by the possibility of new U.S. Congressional restrictions on American assistance to the Palestinian Authority due to the PA’s plan to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).&#160;</span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;verdana, geneva;">Please ask the US Congress to issue a letter of authorization for the immediate transfer of unspent 2014 funds and 2015 allocations to USAID in order to meet an urgent humanitarian need of the Palestinian people by covering at least 50% of the PA de</span><span style="font-family&#58;verdana, geneva;">bt to Augusta Victoria Hospital and the other East Jerusalem hospitals.</span></p><p><font face="verdana, geneva">We have an <a href="http&#58;//www.capwiz.com/elca/issues/alert/?alertid=64126206">online form</a> to make it easy to contact your representative, including&#160;a sample letter.</font></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;verdana, geneva;">Contact the Peace Not Walls team for additional information&#58; </span><a style="font-family&#58;verdana, geneva;">peacenotwalls@elca.org</a></p><p><br></p></span></div>02/16/2015ELCA presiding bishop visits companion church in the Holy LandPeace Not Wallshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/228http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/228<div class="ExternalClassA6F4C8DB3C9C4F3EB4163BCD83CDCFD1"><p></p><p><em>Text from ELCA News Service</em></p><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">CHICAGO (ELCA) –</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;In her first visit to the Middle East as presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton led a delegation Jan. 11-17 to meet with leaders and members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land – a companion church of the ELCA. The delegation also met with political and religious leaders, including a meeting with the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land.</span></p><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; The ELCA and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) are member churches of The Lutheran World Federation, a global communion of 144 churches representing more than 70 million Christians in 79 countries. The ELCA is the communion's only member church from the United States.</span></p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; During their visit, the delegation met with students of the Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour and Dar Al-Kalima Lutheran School in Bethlehem. The school and educational programs of the ELCJHL employ nearly 200 educators, administrators, social workers and others, and nearly all faculty and staff are Palestinians from Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jerusalem and elsewhere. The delegation visited Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem, and they toured the Environmental Education Center in Beit Jala, a ministry of the ELCJHL, to learn more about the denomination's special ecological projects.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;The impact of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land upon the lives of all people in the region is out of proportion to its size. This relatively small church does enormous work in education, humanitarian aid, environmental study, advocacy, ecumenical and inter- religious relations and peacemaking all while dealing with the difficult and ever present reality of the Israeli occupation,&quot; said Eaton.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;This land has a unique beauty&#58; green and gentle in Galilee, severe and barren in the mountains and hills around Jerusalem and the West Bank. It wasn't what I expected the first time I saw it. It made me aware of all of the preconceptions I bring with me to this place. That is a dangerous thing to do,&quot; she said. This trip marks Eaton's third visit to the Middle East, first as ELCA presiding bishop.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The delegation visited the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem and also toured Augusta Victoria Hospital, a ministry of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF). The hospital offers the only cancer facility for residents of the West Bank and Gaza, and it employs more than 300 people. The hospital was founded in 1950. Dr. Tawfiq Nasser, the hospital's chief executive officer, and the Rev. Mark Brown, LWF regional representative in Jerusalem, accompanied Eaton on the hospital tour.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;Augusta Victoria Hospital is a vital ministry&quot; said Eaton. &quot;It is something that The Lutheran World Federation and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are committed to supporting, have been, are now and always will be.&quot;</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We were very honored by the visit of Bishop Eaton and her delegation,&quot; said the Rev. Munib Younan, bishop of the ELCJHL and president of The Lutheran World Federation.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;We arranged a program where she could meet all concerned parties, all ecumenical parties, representatives from all of the Abrahamic faiths, and the work of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and The Lutheran World Federation in Jerusalem. Through her visit, this accompaniment relationship that started in 1988 was strengthened even more. It has helped us to see that we both in the ELCJHL and ELCA have been called together for a common mission for the love of God in the Middle East and the United States,&quot; said Younan.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The ELCA delegation met with representatives of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land – established in 2005 to ensure the ongoing engagement of the leadership and representation of the official religious institutions of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith communities in the Holy Land.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In addition to the council, the delegation met with Patriarch Theophilos III, the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem; Patriarch Fouad Twal, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church and Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem; and Archbishop Nourhan Manougian, Patriarch of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton and others from her delegation met with Palestinian Authority officials, the mayor of Bethlehem, the Israeli Ministry of the Interior, Israeli deputy foreign minister officials, the U.S. Consul General and others.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton addressed a gathering of ELCJHL pastors and the denomination's Church Council. The relationship between the ELCJHL and ELCA &quot;is deeply important to us,&quot; she said, adding that she sees hope for the land through the ministries of ELCJHL. &quot;When I think of people, Christian brothers and sisters, who are in situations that seem hopeless and they have hope, they give me hope. This church is a source of hope for me when I think there can be no hope,&quot; she said.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Images of the ELCA delegation's visit are available at&#160;<a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/Living-Lutheran/Photos">http&#58;//www.elca.org/Living-Lutheran/Photos</a>.</p><p><strong>Renewing efforts for a two-state peace agreement</strong></p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In a Jan. 21 letter to President Obama, members of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East urged the president – in coordination with the Quartet (the United Nations, United States, the European Union and Russia) – to work with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to renew efforts and achieve a negotiated two-state peace agreement &quot;before it is too late.&quot; Eaton is among the Christian, Jewish and Muslim endorsers of the letter.</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In their letter, the religious leaders wrote that &quot;the Gaza war demonstrated once again that there is no military solution to the conflict&quot; and &quot;given developments on the ground, including dangerous new violent clashes in Jerusalem, simply urging the parties to return to negotiations is no longer sufficient.&quot;</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The leaders said that &quot;the outline for a two-state peace agreement is widely known and would likely be accepted by majorities of Israelis and Palestinians if presented by their leaders as the only viable alternative to more violence and war.&quot;</p><p>&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; The leaders urged the president to authorize U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry – coordinating with the Quartet and &quot;drawing on internationally accepted principles and practical ideas from previous official and informal negotiations&quot; – to offer a balanced and fair framework to the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority as the basis for negotiating a two-state peace agreement to end conflict. Religious leaders also offered to meet with Kerry to discuss ways they can be helpful.</p><p><a href="http&#58;//www.elca.org/News-and-Events/7721">Text from ELCA News Release</a></p><p>&#160;</p><p><br></p></div>01/28/2015Religious Leaders Urge the United States, in Coordination with the Quartet, To Present a Framework for Negotiating a Two-State Peace AgreementPeace Not Wallshttp://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/229http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/PeaceNotWalls/229<div class="ExternalClassB6B609EB27CE4666B8BB335D6837772C"><p><em>​Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders of twenty-five national religious organizations delivered a letter to President Obama on January 21, 2015&#160;urging &quot;a renewed, determined U.S. effort, in coordination with the Quartet, to work with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to achieve a negotiated two-state peace agreement before it is too late.&quot; The complete text of the letter follows.</em><strong>&#160; &#160; &#160;</strong></p><p>Dear Mr. President,</p><p>Appreciating the several current conflicts and different challenges each presents for U.S. leadership in the global arena, as members of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (NILI), we write to urge a renewed, determined U.S. effort, in coordination with the Quartet, to work with Israel and Palestinian Authority to achieve a negotiated two-state peace agreement before it is too late.</p><p>The extended ceasefire following the most recent Gaza war presents an opportunity for a new international initiative for peace. This war demonstrated once again that there is no military solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If there is no peace agreement, there is a risk of more unilateral actions and more violence that may lead at some point to another war, and, tragically, to more casualties on both sides.&#160; With the region currently in greater turmoil than in the recent past, renewed violence would contribute to more acute instability.</p><p>Political leaders on both sides are exploring or already engaging in unilateral diplomatic initiatives that they think could advance their cause.&#160; The problem is that the starting points for each side are almost certainly unacceptable to the other side.&#160; After nine months of direct negotiations, Israeli and Palestinian leaders were unable to reach agreement on a framework for peace. Given current developments on the ground, including dangerous new violent clashes in Jerusalem, simply urging the parties to return to negotiations is no longer sufficient.</p><p>We believe the outline for a two-state peace agreement is widely known and would likely be accepted by majorities of Israelis and Palestinians if presented by their leaders as the only viable alternative to more violence and war. UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and 1397, the Taba Agreement (2001), the Arab Peace Initiative (2002), People's Voice Initiative (2003), the Geneva Initiative (2003), and the (unofficial) Israeli Peace Initiative (2011), taken together, provide practical and reasonable ideas for resolving all the issues, including borders and security, settlements, refugees, and the future of Jerusalem.</p><p>While time is running out for a workable two-state solution, it remains the most realistic resolution of the conflict in which both peoples can live in peace, security, and mutual recognition.&#160; With people on both sides looking for a positive political horizon after last summer's war, we believe now is the time for the United States and the international community to work with the parties to launch a new, even more determined initiative for Israeli-Palestinian peace. We are united in urging you to authorize Secretary of State Kerry, coordinating with the Quartet and drawing on internationally accepted principles and practical ideas from previous official and informal negotiations, to offer a balanced and fair framework to the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority as the basis for negotiating a two-state peace agreement to end the conflict.</p><p>Active, fair and firm U.S. leadership in such a bold peace initiative will require strong, public support, especially from religious communities. We pledge to mobilize support from our members in synagogues, churches and mosques across the country, and we would appreciate an early opportunity to meet with Secretary Kerry to discuss specific ways that we as religious leaders can help.</p><p>CC&#58; Secretary of State John Kerry</p><p><br></p><p><strong>List of Endorsers follows</strong></p><p><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><strong>Christian Leaders&#58;</strong></span></p><p>Bishop Oscar Cantú, Chairman, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,&#160;<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Committee on International Justice and Peace</span></p><p>Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington </p><p>Archbishop Vicken Aykasian, Director, Ecumenical Affairs, Armenian Orthodox Church in America</p><p>Jim Winkler, President/General Secretary, National Council of Churches of Christ USA</p><p>Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr., President, Council of Bishops, United Methodist Church</p><p>The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</p><p>Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church</p><p>Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (USA)</p><p>Reverend Geoffrey Black, General Minister &amp; President, United Church of Christ</p><p>Reverend Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister, President, Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ)</p><p>Reverend Leighton Ford, President, Leighton Ford Ministries, Board Member, World Vision US</p><p>David Neff, Editorial Vice-President (Retired), Christianity Today</p><p>John M. Buchanan, Editor and Publisher, Christian Century​</p><p><br></p><p><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><strong>Jewish Leaders&#58;</strong></span></p><p>Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President, Union of Reform Judaism</p><p>Rabbi Rick Block, President, Central Conference of American Rabbis</p><p>Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism</p><p>Rabbi Elliot Dorff, Ph.D. Rector and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, American Jewish University </p><p>Rabbi Burt Visotzky, Jewish Theological Seminary</p><p>Rabbi Jason Klein, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association</p><p>Rabbi Deborah Waxman, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College</p><p>Rabbi Amy Small, Past President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association</p><p>Rabbi Peter Knobel, Past President, Central Conference of American Rabbis</p><p>Rabbi Paul Menitoff, Executive Vice President Emeritus, Central Conference of American Rabbis</p><p>Rabbi Alvin M. Sugarman, Rabbi Emeritus, The Temple, Atlanta Georgia</p><p>&#160;</p><p><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><strong>Muslim Leaders&#58;</strong></span></p><p>Imam Mohammed Magid, President, Islamic Society of North America</p><p>Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, National Director, Islamic Society of North America</p><p>Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Founder of the ASMA Society and Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative</p><p>Dawud Assad, President Emeritus, Council of Mosques, USA</p><p>Imam Yahya Hendi, Founder and President, Clergy Beyond Borders</p><p>Eide Alawan, Interfaith Office for Outreach, Islamic Center of America </p><p>Iftekhar A. Hai, Founding Director, United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance</p><p>&#160;</p><p>*Organizations for Identification Only</p></div>01/28/2015