Thursday, December 7, 2023
Let the arms cease. Stop, brothers and sisters: war is always a defeat -- always! - Francis
The scale of the death and loss in Israel and Gaza is catastrophic -- and now that the so-called "pause" is over, it is once again worsening by the minute.
Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals in its terrorist attack on October 7, and fewer than 100 IDF soldiers in the weeks since. The brutal response by Benjamin Netanyahu's hard-right Israeli government has killed more than 15,000 Palestinians, including a heartbreaking 6,300 children and counting.
In response to this staggering loss of life, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian religious leaders around the world are calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire.
Churches for Middle East Peace -- joined by the National Council of Churches, multiple major denominations, and more -- held a candlelight prayer vigil outside the White House for an immediate ceasefire, plus immediate humanitarian aid and the release of hostages. In an accompanying statement, Bishop William Barber declared, "It doesn't matter whether you use the language of 'liberation' or 'security' to justify it, our faiths teach that it's wrong to spill innocent blood."
Pope Francis has implored, "Let the arms cease. Stop, brothers and sisters: war is always a defeat -- always, always!"
As followers of the Prince of Peace, we cannot remain quiet about this ongoing humanitarian crisis -- especially when far-right Christian Zionists like Tony Perkins and John Hagee are twisting our faith to justify ramping up the violence in the Middle East.
The Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in a statement, "Every human child of God -- Palestinian and Israeli -- deserves safety and security. We need to stop the killing. Today. Vengeance will not bring back the dead. Retaliation will not repair the harms and the hurt. We are called to love, even and especially when it seems impossible."
And he warned, "Staying quiet in this moment would be a stain upon our souls and would deepen our complicity."
In a statement from Churches for Middle East Peace, our friend Lisa Sharon Harper, president and founder of Freedom Road, said, "The slaughter of civilians is more than a war crime. It is an act of war against the image of God on earth... We demand a ceasefire now. We demand humanitarian aid for the Gazan people now. And we demand immediate release for all hostages."
Rabbi Sharon Brous, a leading national religious voice who also leads a prominent congregation in Los Angeles, asks people to "hold the humanity and heartache and the trauma and the need for security and safety of the Jewish people while also holding the humanity and heartache and the dignity and the need for justice for the Palestinian people. These are not binaries, these are things that we can and must achieve together."
A ceasefire would address not only the death, but also the suffering and humanitarian crisis. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warns, "The people of Gaza are in the midst of an epic humanitarian catastrophe before the eyes of the world. We must not look away."
In addition to the death and destruction -- including of countless homes, schools, and hospitals across Gaza -- at least 36,000 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli forces and about 1,000 children are now amputees. Meanwhile, around 1.8 million people (more than 80% of the Gaza Strip population) have been displaced since October 7.
There is no military solution to this crisis. Decades of war and violence have not brought Israel and Palestine closer to peace. We must act urgently and collectively to stop more loss of life, as well as the release of the remaining hostages and prisoners held without charges.
As Shane Claiborne of Red Letter Christians wrote on Threads yesterday morning, "Jesus shows us how to respond to evil without mirroring the evil...
We will not build a peaceful world by killing each other's kids. Love is the only way forward. For God is love. Ceasefire now. Now. NOW."
Sisters and Brothers of Emmaus: Please add your name to our letter to President Biden calling for an immediate ceasefire. Together let's join the millions of voices around the world who seek only peace -- holding the humanity and lives of both the Israeli and Palestinian people as precious and holy.
Thank you for everything you do to love your neighbor and speak out for peace.
In peace. - Rev. Nathan (he/him), Karli (she/her), and the Faithful America team