WASHINGTON, D.C. — The violence raging in the Gaza Strip has prompted concern and action by the Province’s justice and peace leaders. They are urging education about the situation as well as participation in a letter to the President-elect.
The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) Directorate notified HNP friars this week of an ecumenical Christian letter that will be given to President-elect Barack Obama this month. It urges the new president to make Israel-Palestinian peace an immediate priority.
Letter to the President
The JPIC Directorate distributed an e-mail on Jan. 6 to all HNP friars encouraging them and their partners in ministry to sign the letter developed by Churches for Middle East Peace.
The e-mail reminded friars of the Province’s desire to engage in peacemaking, as stated at the 2008 Provincial Chapter.
The e-mail also said, “The bloodshed in the Holy Land, especially at the time when we as Christians celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace in Bethlehem, fills us with deep sorrow, regret and shock. Together with religious leaders and a broad spectrum of justice and peace groups all over the world, we denounce all forms of violence and urge immediate U.S. efforts to restore the cease-fire in Gaza. We believe that peace can only be achieved through justice and reconciliation and that the current militarism is counterproductive.”
“With the Obama administration, the United States has a new opportunity to redeem our reputation. We can help to stabilize the region and to achieve a fair, lasting two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Please consider joining with American Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox and Protestant leaders in sending a letter to President-elect Obama. Together, we can urge him to make Israeli-Palestinian peace an immediate priority during his first year in office.”
By sending an e-mail to the president, senators and representatives, “We can urge immediate U.S. efforts to end violence and restore the cease-fire in Gaza,” the letter said.
Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, co-chair of the JPIC Directorate, has recommended resources for background information about the Gaza situation. They include Web sites and articles:
Gush Shalom: One of the most courageous parts of the Israeli peace movement, according to Jacek.
B’tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.
Palestinian News Network: Based in Bethlehem, a source of information from a group of independent Palestinian journalists and editors.
The Narrow Gate of Justice: Sabeel’s Reflection on Gaza. The Web site of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation.
The True Story Behind this War is Not the One Israel is Telling: from The Independent (the British daily newspaper)
Talking Points: The Gaza Crisis. Institute for Policy Studies.
An article by Rabbi Michael Lerner titled, “Israel in Gaza: Right but not Smart”
The violence in the Gaza Strip highlights the urgency of addressing the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the recent e-mail said.
“The president needs to hear from American Christians now that peace in the Holy Land cannot be postponed and that we will support his peacemaking efforts,” said Jacek, adding that the deadline to sign the letter to President-elect Obama is Jan. 16.
A Franciscan peacemaking delegation to the Holy Land is being planned for March of this year in which 24 people are to participate -– including eight friars and four members of the JPIC Directorate, Jacek said.
“We hope that with your advocacy there will soon be a cease-fire and that our journey will be able to take place,” Jacek said. “As representatives of the Province, we will be able to share with you a first-hand account of the situation in the Holy Land.”
Jacek said he welcomes questions and comments about this campaign. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-434-8400, ext. 14.