Monday, 29 December 2008

Praying for peace in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

This week the Ecumenical Prayer Cycle invites Christians throughout the world to pray for Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Throughout the past year of blogging and preparing worship in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva it has so often been like this, a country we are praying for through the cycle will be in the news at the time of the calendar. Normally because of the way news works the reason is not positive. Often like this week it is because the country is hardly ever out of the news.

The WCC general secretary has called for an immediate stop to the violence:
“The deaths and suffering of the last three days are dreadful and shameful and will achieve nothing but more deaths and suffering,” Samuel Kobia said in a 29 December statement. He was referring to the “over 300 lives lost, more than 1,000 people wounded, [and] uncounted thousands traumatized” in the Gaza strip as a result of the “bombardment of one of the most densely populated places on earth”. “This must stop immediately,” he added.
The statement reiterates previous WCC calls on “the government of Israel and Hamas to respect international humanitarian and human rights law,” and warns that in the present crisis the use of Israeli military ground forces “would deepen the current disaster”.
"The tired logic of public officials blaming others while denying their own government’s responsibilities has led to the loss of many lives. Governments need now to be accountable for peace."
Full statement here.

ENI also reports:
"The humanitarian consequences for innocent civilians will be even more grave than they already are if all parties do not immediately end all attacks and begin a new ceasefire," said John Nduna, director of ACT International.
In Jerusalem the Rabbis for Human Rights group issued a statement on 29 December saying, "The firing on Israeli communities adjacent to Gaza gives the State of Israel the right to defend her citizens, but both the Jewish tradition and international law do not allow the harming of innocent civilians."
The rabbis said "Many Israelis will quote from the Talmudic Tractate Sanhedrin, 'When somebody is coming to kill you, get up earlier and kill him first'. However, few are aware of how the Talmud continues, teaching us only to use the minimum necessary force and drawing a sharp contrast between defending ourselves against those attacking us, and harming an innocent third-party. These are also principles in International Humanitarian Law."

Today, as Israel declares war, we try to continue to pray for peace.
My peace-campaigning Mother-in-law has also sent me this:

Dear friends,

As we watch the Gaza bloodshed with horror, appalled at how the crisis is spiraling further out of control, one thing is clear − this violence will only lead to further civilian suffering and an escalation of the conflict. There must be another way. Over 280 are dead and hundreds more injured − rockets are striking Ashdod deep inside Israel for the very first time, and the sides are mobilising for invasion. A global response has begun, but it'll take more than words − the immediate violence won't end, nor will wider peace be secured, without firm action from the
international community.
Today, we're launching an emergency campaign which will be delivered to the UN Security Council and key world powers, urging them to act to ensure an immediate ceasefire, address the growing humanitarian crisis, and take steps to build real and lasting peace.1 Follow this link now to sign the emergency petition and send it to everyone you know:
After eight or more years of ineffective US and global diplomacy − and now Gaza's bloodiest day in recent memory − we must issue a global outcry demanding that world leaders do more than make statements if they're to bring peace to this region. The UN, the European Union, the Arab League and the USA should now act together to ensure a ceasefire – which includes an end to rocket attacks into Israel and opening the checkpoints for fuel, food, medicine and other
humanitarian aid deliveries.
With a new US President taking office in less than a month, a real opportunity exists to breathe new life into peace efforts. These latest hostilities require not only an immediate ceasefire but a
commitment from Obama and other world leaders that resolution of the Israeli−Palestinian conflict is at the very top of their agendas. As the whole world is impacted by this ongoing conflict − we should demand nothing less.
In 2006 we mobilised for a ceasefire in Lebanon. For years we've worked to encourage a just and lasting peace, taking out billboards and ads across Israel and Palestine. Now as we head into 2009, we need to come together again to demand a peaceful and lasting resolution, instead of a further escalation of violence. Follow this link to put your name forward for peace:
All sides to the conflict will continue to act as they have in the past if they believe that the world will stand by and allow them to do so. 2009 is a year that things can be different. As we face this
crisis, and the possibilities of a new year, it's time for us to demand a ceasefire and work together to finally put an end to this cycle of violence.
With hope and determination,
Brett, Ricken, Alice, Ben, Pascal, Paul, Graziela, Paula, Luis, Iain
and the whole Avaaz team

Next week the ecumenical prayer cycle invites us to pray for Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yeman, Iran, Iraq ...