[Russ Testa requested that this information be made available to the friars.]
The terrible news of the Israeli bombing raid that took the lives of over 50 civilians in Qana, Lebanon on July 30 underscores the need for an immediate cease-fire. The Hezbollah-Israeli crisis, which has been a vicious spiral of violence since it began over two weeks ago with Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers, has claimed far too many innocent lives and must come to an end.
In a Washington Post op-ed on July 28, “A Time to Act,” former secretary of state Warren Christopher warned that failure to achieve an immediate cease-fire would mean “civilians will continue to die, precious infrastructure will continue to be destroyed and the fragile Lebanese democracy will continue to erode.” Many foreign policy experts are also pointing to a dangerous increase in anti-American sentiment, rising support for extremism and a weakening of moderate elements in the region. Moreover, the continued violence is undermining any hopes of reinvigorating the Arab-Israeli peace process.
The Qana bombing has sparked some increased urgency on the part of the Bush Administration, but the U.S. is still not calling for an immediate cease-fire. Secretary of State Rice announced today a three-part comprehensive plan that she will present to the United Nations Security Council later this week. The plan includes “a cease-fire, the political principles that provide for a long-term settlement and the authorization of an international force to support the Lebanese army in keeping the peace.” The U.S. announcement is an important first step, however, the failure of last week’s Rome talks can’t be repeated. Your advocacy toward the Administration is urgently needed.
Stay Informed: To help keep you informed, Churches for Middle East Peace has created a Middle East Crisis Resource page, with links to reports, news sources, and statements from Arab and Jewish organizations, as well as the U.S. government and international bodies. This will be kept up-to-date for the duration of the crisis.
Call the White House Comment Line at 202-456-1111.
Your Message: Mideast Violence Must Come to an End: U.S. Must Support an Immediate Cease-Fire.
- I am grieved over the terrible loss of innocent life in Qana, Lebanon due to an Israeli bombing raid on July 30 and am distressed that the U.S. hasn’t done more to end the violence. The Hezbollah-Israeli violence that has escalated rapidly since Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers on July 12 has had terrible human consequences on both the Lebanese and Israeli peoples and must come to an end.
- The continued violence is increasing anti-American sentiment in the region, weakening moderate voices, and making prospects for a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace even more difficult.
- I agree with the July 21 church leaders’ letter to President Bush that said, “This violent conflict has created a grave humanitarian crisis, and no hoped-for benefit should outweigh the cause of saving innocent lives.”
- The announcement of U.S. plans to work with the U.N. Security Council this week to bring an end to the hostilities is an important first step, however, I ask that the U.S. support an immediate cease-fire to save innocent lives and allow the flow of humanitarian aid. Then, the U.S. must exercise leadership to launch an intensive diplomatic initiative that brings a lasting cessation of hostilities.