We are deeply saddened by the misguided, one-sided resolution on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict presented to the Evangelical Lutheran Church Assembly.
- The resolution sympathizes with and supports only “the people in crisis in Palestine,” never mentioning Israelis and their suffering.
- The resolution and the background paper that shaped it were based on information supplied by Bishop Munib Younan and Dr. Tawfiq Nasser, who are not neutral sources. Both are activists for the Palestinian cause. No Israeli official was consulted or cited in the resolution or background paper.
- While claiming to be ecumenical, the resolution’s authors do not include Israeli Christians or Jews unless they stand “in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”
- It ignores all Palestinian responsibility for the ongoing conflict, especially terrorism and incitement, and places no demands on Palestinians.
- It does not even allude to, let alone condemn, the terrorist war launched against Israelis and the anguish it has caused: the 25,375 terrorist attacks, the 1067 Israelis murdered and the 7307 crippled or maimed, 69% of them civilians.
- It does not mention, let alone condemn, terrorist groups like Hamas whose charter calls for the “obliteration of Israel” and the imposition of sharia law and who are fighting against peaceful compromise, oppressing ordinary Palestinians and threatening Christians in the PA.
- It only blames Israeli actions for the conflict. It claims “the continuing Israeli occupation” for the ongoing conflict, ignoring the fact that Israel has been trying to give Palestinians self-government for decades, that the PA governs 98% of the Palestinian people and that Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and the northern West Bank are an unprecedented gesture.
- The resolution uses and supports partisan phrases and causes in this war, such as “Break down the walls,” and “Peace not walls.” Those who support these positions show an indifference to the legitimate security concerns of Israelis. Those who support a two-state solution ignore the problems of Palestinian society that would threaten Israeli safety if that state were created. Moreover, they deny the existence of a hard core of activists who are opposed to the existence of the Jewish state and to that end are encouraging the US to end its support of one of its most valuable allies.
- The resolution and background material use erroneous information to condemn Israel’s security fence:
- It is a security fence, not a wall. Only 3% is a wall; the other 97% is a chain link fence.
- The fence is not being built “on Palestinian land.” Only 5% of its planned route will intrude over the green line, the now defunct armistice borders of the 1948 War. This is disputed land; the unallotted portion of the former Palestinian Mandate. Borders were to be determined through bilateral negotiations which were interrupted by the 2nd Intifada.
- The security barrier does not confiscate any land. Most of it was built on public lands. When private lands had to be used, owners were offered compensation or a lease agreement. Israel has transplanted over 60,000 trees that fell on the Israeli side of the barrier to ensure that Palestinian farmers are not adversely affected. This is not the behavior of a government trying to steal land, but of a nation looking to minimize the impact of its policies on non-combatants.
- The resolution fails to acknowledge why Christian churches are threatened. It is not because of Israel, which is the only state in the Middle East that willingly accepts Christians and religious diversity. Christians are threatened by the PA which has declared itself an Islamic state, plans to base its legislation on sharia law, and has called it a crime to convert from Islam to Christianity. Harassed by Muslim groups, thousands of Christians are fleeing the PA.
- The resolution can condemn the fence only by ignoring the terrorism that built it and Israel’s need to protect its innocent citizens. The resolution ignores the efforts to reduce the fence’s impact on the lives of Palestinians. Rabbi Arik Asherman, Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights, a group concerned about the plight of the Palestinians, has stated unequivocally that the fence enjoys the support of a huge majority of Israeli citizens even as they regret the impact it has on Palestinians.
The fence is a peaceful, passive, non-lethal form of self-defense that does not murder, wound, cripple or orphan, unlike the terrorism it tries to prevent. Some Palestinians may find the fence causes inconvenience, but this inconvenience can end once the Palestinian Authority stops terrorism. Moreover, this inconvenience has to be weighed against the innocent lives that the fence saves from terrorism.
- Instead of supporting Israel as it struggles to withdraw from Gaza and the northern West Bank and condemning the continuing attacks even as Israelis prepare for these withdrawals, it encourages Palestinian terrorism, incitement, intransigence and hostility.
Christian groups should be promoting conciliation, understanding, forgiveness and brotherhood. This resolution does not. It is a dishonest portrayal of the Arab-Israeli conflict and encourages more violence against Israel.