Faith leaders react to the Free Gaza flotilla incident

The efforts of peace activitists to break the Gaza siege from the sea were thwarted on May 31, 2010, when Israeli soldiers boarded at least one ship in the flotilla and killed at least nine people on board. Here are two responses to the incident from a faith perspective.

Click here for a statement from Sabeel, the Palestinian liberation theology center in Jerusalem.

Click here for a statement from Rev. Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the ELCA, the U.S. partner of the ELCJHL.

Bishop addresses international audience of Sabeel conference

Bishop Younan, Sabeel conference

Bishop Munib Younan displays his UN refugee card during his sermon at the seventh International Sabeel Conference. He spoke about the role memory plays in identity, calling for Israelis and Palestinians alike to look realistically at the past in order to move toward a peaceful future. His Nov. 19 sermon at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem was a part of the worship service that concluded the Sabeel conference, “The Nakba: Memory, Reality and Beyond.”

Bishop Younan Calls for Palestinian Christians and the International Community to Seek Just Peace

Bishop Younan told a conference of 400 people on Saturday, November 3, that it is the responsibility of all Christians world-wide and the entire international community to help the Palestinians achieve some justice that will lead to peace He said the situation is getting very difficult for all Palestinians.

The Bishop spoke at Sabeel’s 6th International Conference entitled “The Forgotten Faithful,” a 7-day look at the life of Palestinian Christians today. Central to the conference was a survey of 1400 families in the West Bank and Israel (they were denied access to Gaza), which showed that a high percentage of young families are seeking to emigrate because of lack of jobs and to find a better life. The conference traveled to Jerusalem, to Bethlehem, Jericho, Ramallah and several villages around there, then ended in Nazareth and villages around there.

The Bishop outlined 5 things churches should do in their role in peacemaking. In our context as Palestinian Christians, living prophetically means that we are to:

  1. Condemn all forms of violence and sin
  2. Uphold a prophetic vision of just peace
  3. Uphold a prophetic vision of a modern, civil, democratic society
  4. Seek common values of mutual respect and human dignity with other faiths
  5. Work ecumenically and globally for the sake of humanity and justice

He ended his speech with these words: “It is time to liberate our world from the extremism and hate that seeks to dominate and distract us from promoting common values of love, justice, peace and human dignity. It is time to help make religion a driving force for reconciliation and healing that it should be rather than a part of the problem. It is time for us to realize that there has been enough hate, enough violence, enough occupation! How many more deaths, shattered cities, walls of concrete will it take before we refuse to further destroy one another? If ever there was a time to transform our swords into ploughshares, our hatred into love, occupation into liberation, it is now.