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How Your Church Can Support Peace for Israel, Palestine

Many Christians across the United States may have little interest in, and perhaps not much knowledge of, the World Council of Churches (WCC). Some Christians are even quite critical of the WCC.
Nevertheless, the WCC is involved in many commendable activities. Their sponsorship of World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel (WWPPI), scheduled from Sept. 21-27 this year, is a good example.

WWPPI is an initiative of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum of the WCC. That group is described as “an international, inter-church advocacy initiative for peace in Israel and Palestine.”

Certainly, Israel and Palestine are places in the world badly in need of peace. On July 8, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge in the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip.

A ceasefire has been in effect since the last week in August. But seven weeks of Israeli air strikes and Palestinian rocket attacks left more than 2,100 people dead and more than 10,000 wounded, most of them Palestinians—a majority of them civilians.

While conservative Christians, as well as those who are conservative politically, tend to be strong supporters of Israel, the WCC tends to be more on the side of the Palestinians—as I think they should be.

That is one reason some are critical of the WCC—and some may well be critical of my position as well.

Certainly neither the WCC nor I support the violent activities of Hamas. But it seems quite clear that the Palestinian people as a whole have long been the victims of grave injustice.

More and more of Palestinian land has been taken by Israeli force. For example, on Aug. 31, Israel’s government made its largest appropriation of occupied West Bank land in a generation, taking some 1,000 acres that legally belonged to Palestinians.

For many reasons, resources for the WWPPI declare, “It’s time for Palestine.” One piece includes the following statements:

−     It’s time for Palestinians and Israelis to share a just peace.

−     It’s time to end more than 60 years of conflict, oppression and fear.

−     It’s time for freedom from occupation.

−     It’s time to stop bulldozing one community’s homes and building homes for the other community on land that is not theirs.

−     It’s time for people who have been refugees for more than 60 years to regain their rights and a permanent home.

−     It’s time to be revolted by violence against civilians and for civilians on both sides to be safe.

−     It’s time to reunite the people of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

−     It’s time to seek forgiveness between communities and to repair a broken land together.

−     For Palestine, for Israel and for a troubled world, it’s time for peace.

This year the International Day of Prayer for Peace is scheduled for Sept. 21. In the week that follows, church organizations, congregations and people of faith are being encouraged to participate in worship services, educational events and acts of advocacy to support a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians.

I hope that, at least to some degree, this will be done in the churches across the U.S. and around the world.

At the very least, I hope that on Sunday in addition to the usual prayers for people in the congregation who have health needs, there will be some fervent prayers for peace in Palestine and Israel.

It’s high time for peace and justice.

Leroy Seat was a missionary to Japan from 1966-2004 and is both professor emeritus of Seinan Gakuin University and pastor emeritus of Fukuoka International Church. A version of this article also appeared on his blog, The View from this Seat, and is used with permission. You can follow him on Twitter @LKSeat.