Peace Not Walls presiding bishop says land occupation is counter-productive to peace, two-state solutionPeace Not Walls<div class="ExternalClass709B464195554E6688281E6EBF8A3EC6"><p><em>Text from ELCA news release&#58;</em></p><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">CHICAGO (ELCA) – The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), commended the Obama administration for urging the Israeli government to &quot;reverse its recent declaration as 'state land' the estimated 988 acres in the Gush Etzion Jewish settlement bloc in the occupied West Bank.&quot;</span></p><p> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; As a denomination that &quot;calls for a cessation of all settlement activities and withdrawal from settlements on Palestinian territory to the 1967 boundaries,&quot; Eaton expressed hope that the administration &quot;will continue to pursue this reversal.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; In her Oct. 22 letter to the U.S. president, Eaton noted that she shares the administration's concern regarding the Israeli government's &quot;reportedly recent move to advance the settlement planning process in the sensitive area of Givat Hamatos in East Jerusalem.&quot; She said the plan for the new neighborhood &quot;would cut the territorial continuity between the Palestinian neighborhoods in South Jerusalem and the future Palestinian state.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton also mentioned the recent occupation of six residential buildings in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem. This occupation &quot;is a provocative act that only serves to escalate tensions at a moment when those tensions have been high,&quot; Eaton wrote. &quot;This new occupation, the largest since 1991, could expand the settler presence by about 35 percent from the number of settlers currently in the area.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; &quot;It is deeply distressing to us that these kinds of action, which seek to create new 'facts on the ground,' continue unabated,&quot; Eaton wrote. &quot;Along with Jewish organizations like Peace Now and B'Tselem, we fully agree with your administration that such actions are counter-productive to achieving a comprehensive and sustainable peace based upon a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, where international human rights and humanitarian law are respected and upheld. … such actions reinforce despondency among the Palestinian people, limiting optimism that a political solution will be found.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Eaton urged Obama to call all involved in the conflict to refrain from violent or provocative actions that &quot;could lead to more casualties and further exacerbate the existing barriers toward a return to negotiations and a just final status agreement that results in two viable, secure states living side-by-side in peace.&quot;<br> &#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160; Grounded in hope, &quot;we pray that the current truce, following the recent war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, will hold so that hope might begin to be restored,&quot; the ELCA presiding bishop wrote, adding that it is imperative that, with the help of the international community, both Palestinians and Israeli leaders return to negotiations to &quot;identify and constructively address the underlying causes of continued tension, so that God's peace and justice will prevail.&quot;</p><p><a href="http&#58;//">Full text of Bishop Eaton's letter</a></p><p><a href="http&#58;//">Full text of ELCA News Release</a></p><p><br></p><p></p></div>10/24/2014The Patriarchs of the East – “Religious Extremism is a Major Threat for The Area and The Whole World”Peace Not Walls<div class="ExternalClass49511C6FBE1649BF8F749EAEC5BCE238"><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">The Patriarc</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">hs of the East published a press release condemning conflicts and violence which overwhelm the Middle East, and most particularly the persecution of innocents and Christians. The religious fundamentalism, and those who feed it through financing its armed movements, affecting the balance and stability in the region, is unequivocally denounced. The Patriarchs therefore send forth an urgent plea to the international community. (Text from the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation)</span></p><p><a href="http&#58;//">Click here for the text of the statement&#160;</a>​</p></div>08/26/2014Faith-Based Organizations Call for an End to Iraq ViolencePeace Not Walls<div class="ExternalClass46411CD842874F33A8F1B7FB35C4081E"><p>​Find below the August 22, 2014&#160;<a href="http&#58;//">press release</a> from the Lutheran World Federation.</p><p><strong>“Concerned and Saddened by Kidnapping and Hostage-taking”</strong></p><p><em>(LWI)</em> - The LWF together with ten faith-based humanitarian and development organizations has issued an “urgent call to stop the horrific suffering” in Iraq.</p><p>“The untold suffering of minority groups as a result of escalating violence and attacks is unacceptable and the violation of international human rights and humanitarian laws is despicable,” the letter signed by Christian and Muslim organizations says.</p><p>“We are utterly shocked at the horrific wave of attacks that has so far led to the killing of many and left hundreds of thousands more homeless, desperate and in flight. We are further concerned and saddened by the many cases of kidnapping and hostage-taking of people, including women and children,” the statement further reads.</p><p>Together with ACT Alliance members, the statement has been signed by among others Islamic Relief, Muslim Aid, Muslim Charities Forum CAFOD and the Human Relief Foundation.</p><p>According to data from the United Nations, about one million people have been displaced by violence and insecurity since the beginning of the year. The militant group Islamic State (IS) is especially targeting minorities such as Yazidis and Christians. The LWF together with partners from the ACT Alliance has started emergency assistance to internally displaced persons (IDP) in the Ninive valley close to the contested city of Mosul.</p><p>“The magnitude at which Islamic State militants are operating is absolutely terrifying and we deplore their actions in the deliberate targeting of civilians,” Michael Hyden, Humanitarian Coordinator for the LWF Department of World Service (DWS) said.</p><p>&#160;“Together with our partners Christian Aid Program in Iraq (CAPNI) we are assessing how best we can assist the affected population in Duhok governate,” Hyden added. According to official government data, the total number of IDP in this governorate alone is 462,270 as of 18 August 2014.</p><p>The signatories also stress the need to protect civilians and apply international law. “We are appealing for the protection of all people, including persecuted religious minorities such as the Yazidis and Christians – hundreds of thousands who have fled in fear for their lives,” Hyden said.</p><p>The organizations call for a lasting solution for peace, reconciliation and justice for all in the region.</p> <a href="http&#58;//">Click here for the statement</a><div><br></div><div><a href="http&#58;//">Click here for the LWF Response Team Report</a></div><div><br></div><div><a href="http&#58;//;date_filter%5bvalue%5d%5bdate%5d=&amp;field_tags_tid%5b%5d=886">Click here for more Response News​</a></div></div>08/22/2014Jewish, Christian and Muslim Religious Leaders Welcome Ceasefire; Call Urgently for a Two-State Peace AgreementPeace Not Walls<div class="ExternalClass60694BF3D0934C839333B17794C5322E"><p></p><p>​Below is the&#160;<a href="http&#58;//">National Interreligious Leadership Initiative</a>&#160;for Peace in the Middle East statement&#160;<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">welcoming the ceasefire in Israel and Gaza,&#160;</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">with endorsements&#160;by thirty-three national Jewish, Christian, and Muslim leaders</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">​.</span></p><p><br></p><p>A<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">u</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">gust 14, 2014</span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;&#160;</span><strong style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;</strong><strong style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;</strong><strong style="line-height&#58;1.6;">&#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160; &#160;</strong></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Jewish, Christian and Muslim Religious Leaders Welcome Ceasefire;</strong></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>Call Urgently for Renewed Negotiations for a Two-State Peace Agreement</strong></p><p>As leaders of American Jewish, Christian, and Muslim national religious organizations, united in the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (NILI), we welcome the ceasefire agreement of Israel and Hamas, and the negotiations to make it permanent.&#160; We were appalled by the kidnappings and murders of Israeli and Palestinian teenagers. We believe the loss of even one human life is a tragedy that grieves God. &#160;In the recent weeks of war between Hamas and Israel, we mourn the innocent civilians killed. &#160;We offer our prayers as well for the wounded and for the families of all the victims of violence.&#160;</p><p>&#160;This tragic escalation of violence demonstrates once again that there is no such thing as a stable status-quo in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ideas being promoted in some circles for returning to the previous status quo or managing the conflict are dangerous.&#160; Acknowledging the recent failed negotiations, we call on Israeli and Palestinian political leaders to renew negotiations to achieve a two-state peace agreement, the only realistic resolution of the conflict in which both people can live in peace, security, and mutual recognition. The crucial choice leaders on both sides face now is between negotiating a two-state peace agreement with a new sense of urgency or condemning Palestinian and Israeli children and youth to continued conflict -- more violence, more suffering, and more deaths.</p><p style="text-align&#58;justify;">​We strongly supported Secretary of State Kerry's efforts to achieve a negotiated peace agreement, and urge the United States to renew efforts to reach a two-state agreement as soon as possible.&#160; Recalling President Obama's words in Jerusalem, &quot;Peace is necessary...peace is also just…and peace is possible,&quot; we believe the outline of a possible two-state agreement is widely known, including ideas drawn from previous official and informal negotiations for fair, realistic compromises.&#160; While none of the previous plans present a complete outline, the Taba Agreement (2000), the Arab Peace Initiative (2002), People's Voice Initiative (2003), Geneva Accord (2003), and the (unofficial) Israeli Peace Initiative (2011) are sources for principled and practical ideas to help resolve all the issues, including borders and security, settlements, refugees and Jerusalem.</p><p>It is more urgent than ever that the United States and the international community press for a two-state peace agreement. While appreciating that maintaining a sustainable ceasefire is now the priority, we would welcome an early opportunity to meet with Secretary of State Kerry to discuss how we can assist with renewed U.S. efforts to achieve a negotiated two-state peace agreement. We pledge to mobilize active public support from members of synagogues, churches and mosques across the country for active, fair and determined U.S. leadership for peace.</p><p><strong>List of Endorsers follows.</strong></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>NILI Statement Welcoming the Ceasefire</strong></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>In Israel and Gaza - August 2014</strong></p><p style="text-align&#58;center;"><strong>List of Endorsers</strong></p><p><span style="text-decoration&#58;underline;"><strong>Christian Leaders&#58;</strong></span></p><p>Bishop Richard E. Pates, Chairman, USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace</p><p>Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington</p><p>Archbishop Vicken Aykasian, Director, Ecumenical Affairs, Armenian Orthodox Church in America</p><p>Archimandrite Nathanael Symeonides, Ecumenical Officer, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America</p><p>Jim Winkler, President/General Secretary, National Council of Churches of Christ USA</p><p>The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America</p><p>Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr., President, Council of Bishops, United Methodist Church</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, former Editorial Vice-President, 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 Steven A. Fox, Chief Executive Officer, Central Conference of American Rabbis</p><p>Rabbi David Saperstein, 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 Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus, Past President, Central Conference of American Rabbis</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>*Organizations for Identification Only</p><p><strong></strong></p><p><strong>​For More Information Contact&#58;&#160;<strong>&#160;</strong><strong>Ron Young&#160;(425) 327-7545</strong><strong>&#160;</strong>​</strong><strong>&#160;(<strong style="text-align&#58;center;"></strong>)​</strong></p></div>08/19/2014LWF and ELCA Respond to Violence in and around Gaza Peace Not Walls<div class="ExternalClass0DBADA60D1D24B1BB2C109D834E47560"><p>​<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">In a 23 July </span><a href="http&#58;//" style="line-height&#58;1.6;">joint statement</a><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"> by Lutheran&#160;World Federation President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan and General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge, the global Lutheran communion reiterated its call on all parties for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and expressed its &quot;deepest concern and dismay&quot; over the flagrant disregard for international humanitarian law and other binding legal instruments, as fatalities from the Israeli and Palestinian conflict have now surpassed 1,422 Palestinians, 56 Israeli soldiers, and three Israeli civilians (latest count according to the </span><a href="http&#58;//" style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Washington Post</a><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">).</span></p><p>&quot;The LWF states with all firmness&#58; conflicts and wars do not, and cannot provide any excuse to cease observing international obligations. As we have seen in the past, tampering with these obligations only opens the floodgates for atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity,&quot; Younan and Junge emphasized.</p><p>As the humanitarian crisis in Gaza continues to escalate the Lutheran World Federation's Augusta Victoria Hospital <a href="http&#58;//">dispatched a medical team to Gaza</a> on Friday, August 1, 2014.</p><p>Find below the LWF Statement on Gaza, ELCA presiding Bishop Eaton's letter to Bishop Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), and Bishop Younan's response to Bishop Eaton.</p><p><a href="http&#58;//">The Lutheran World Federation Statement on Violence in Gaza</a> (July 23, 2014)</p><p>LWF Press Release&#58; <a href="http&#58;//">Abide by International Law in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict</a> (July 23, 2014) </p><p><a href="http&#58;//">Bishop Eaton's Letter to Bishop Younan</a> (July 17, 2014)</p><p>ELCA Press Release&#58; <a href="http&#58;//">ELCA presiding bishop joins call for peace in the Holy Land</a> (July 17, 2014)</p><p><a href="http&#58;//">Bishop Younan Responds to Bishop's Eaton's Letter to ELCJHL on Gaza Ceasefire</a> (July 29, 2014)</p><p><em>Take Action here by writing to your representatives&#58;</em></p><p>ELCA Peace Not Walls Action Alert&#58; <a href="http&#58;//">Call on Congress&#58; Stop Gaza Assault</a> </p></div>08/01/2014WCC General Secretary Calls for Reversal of Israeli Knesset law Categorizing Palestinian ChristiansJulie Rowe<div class="ExternalClassDAF401AE66E840919A3762D73E44BBC9"><p>​<img src="http&#58;//" alt="World Council of Churches" title="World Council of Churches" style="margin&#58;5px;width&#58;435px;" /><br>19 March 2014 - Joining voices of the churches in Palestine and Israel, the World Council of Churches (WCC) General Secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit has expressed “grave concern” about a law recently passed by the Israeli Knesset or parliament.<br><br>The law passed by the Knesset on 24 February would define the status of Palestinian Arab Christians in the state of Israel.<br><br>Top officials of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land have said that this new law “introduces a distinction between Christian and Muslim Palestinians and states that Christian Palestinians are Christians and not Palestinians”.&#160; The church added&#58; <span> <span>“This campaign clearly has as its aim to divide Christians from their Muslim compatriots. However, it is equally dangerous because it will divide Christians among themselves even further,”</span></span><br><br>In a statement issued on 18 March, Tveit called on “Israeli authorities to reverse this law to stop an injustice against the Christian citizens of Israel”.&#160; He encouraged the WCC member churches to “raise this issue with representatives of Israel and with their own governments”, urging reversal of this law.<br><br>Tveit said that this law establishes a “legislative distinction between the indigenous Palestinian Arab Christians and Palestinian Arab Muslims, both of whom are citizens of the State of Israel”. This distinction, he stressed, is an “unacceptable severing of entire communities from their cultural identity”.<br><br>Tveit added that the “Knesset has transgressed all proper distinctions between state and religious authority by attempting to define the nature and character of Christian communities within Israel against their own will and self-understanding”.<br><br>Warning of the adverse implications of this law, Tveit said that “rather than creating divisions among communities, the Knesset should pave the way for breaking down barriers that divide people according to ethnicity and religion.” Tveit echoed heads of the Catholic Church in Israel, who stressed that “it is not the right or the duty of the Israeli civil authorities to tell us who we are”.<br><br>The WCC has long affirmed the right of religious communities to define themselves, condemning the manipulation of religious identity for political gains.<br><br><a href="https&#58;//;URL=http&#58;//">Read full text of the WCC general secretary’s statement</a><br><a href="http&#58;//">Statement on Knesset law by he Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries</a><br><a href="https&#58;//;URL=http&#58;//">WCC’s Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum</a><br><a href="http&#58;//">WCC programme &quot;Churches in th<span class="ms-rteThemeFontFace-1"></span>e Middle East”</a></p></div>03/20/2014