Statement on the Escalating Violence in and around Gaza

November 13, 2012

Louisville

We join with the Secretary General of the United Nations and others who have called for a de-escalation of the violence involving Israel and Hamas in Gaza and southern Israel. The combination of attacks on Israeli patrols, the launching of rockets against Israeli communities, and the violent response of the Israeli Defense Force all have contributed to a dangerous escalation of violence which is counterproductive for all parties.

Our General Assembly and our leaders have often and unequivocally condemned the launching of rockets from Gaza against Israeli citizens in the surrounding areas. There can be no justification for the terror and injury that these attacks have produced; and every such act has produced counter violence on the part of Israel, often resulting in greater loss of life. The reverse is also true. On occasion, the Israelis have initiated attacks on Gaza producing similar terror and injury, and resulting in rockets being fired by Palestinians in retaliation.

Our General Assemblies have called over and over again for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, with its daily humiliation of Palestinian citizens and continual encroachment on Palestinian territory. It should be clear to anyone with eyes to see, that the occupation, with its oppression of the Palestinian population, is a form of systemic violence which remains a barrier to peace which must be removed.

Retaliation always bears bitter fruit, and pushes the hope for peace farther away from fruition. We urge all parties to cease this cycle of violence and sit down together in the cause of peace, not revenge.  

  1. Congrats to Christian leaders for calling out Israeli brutality & inhumanity in its occupation of the Palestinians, stealing their homes & land, violating UN & International laws non-stop. Here's a quote: "I would like to be able to condemn such measures the various Churches have taken, but I would also like to see Israel living up to its aspiration to be a “light into all nations”. When I see news of more settlement activity, Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacres, Operation Cast Leads, midnight raids on Palestinian homes, beatings and imprisonment of children, bulldozing of Palestinian homes, and many other atrocities, I do not feel proud of my people. Israel wants no part of a “peace process” but simply wants All of Palestine. "To survive, Israel must lift its heavy boot off the necks of the Palestinian people and hiding behind legalisms to justify its immoral behavior. Let the Torah guide our behavi our".

    by Ray Lee

    December 8, 2012

  2. Once again our Stated Clerk speaks for a group that does not exist - a united PCUSA. I hope that we all pray for peace. Not all of us believe the Israel's defense of her people are not acts of revenge. The willingness of Hamas to subjugate the Palestinian people, even to the point of death, shows its eagerness to wage a zero-sum war.

    by Kerry Knox Westerwick

    November 27, 2012

  3. I wish someone.. anyone could please define for me just exactly what territory is being "occupied" by Israel.

    by Bob schwalbaum

    November 27, 2012

  4. Is the Stated Clerk giving the official PCUSA opinion on this issue? If not, he should not present his thoughts in this forum. If so, then I must wonder whether or not I should remain a member of this church. If being a Presbyterian means I must be anti-Israel, then it's time to go.

    by David Hannes

    November 23, 2012

  5. As I read the words written by leaders and members of our Church, words that undisputedly go from one end to the other end of the spectrum, I cannot to help to wonder, how are we helping to solve the problem when we cannot agree to disagree? Just to share a simple note from a Soldier, an Elder, a Seminary Student and friend to you. Proudly Serving our Lord and Savior from the Presbytery of San Juan.

    by Elder Raul Santiago

    November 20, 2012

  6. As an elder in the PCUSA, I am so disappointed in our denomination and its stance regarding Israel. I pray for our Church. I fear we have left our roots and have adopted positions which are both erroneous and grievous.

    by Linda Walters

    November 19, 2012

  7. Once again, I am very proud of the testimony of the PCUSA.

    by April Love-Fordham

    November 16, 2012

  8. Please look at our Mission Network's press release about the escalating violence in Gaza and Israel. We are a GA-mandated mission network of the PC(USA) and we have members from over 80 presbyteries around the country. We appreciate Rev. Gradye Parsons call for peace when there is no peace. Our press release: http://www.israelpalestinemissionnetwork.org/main/component/content/article/18/243-report-the-full-story-on-gaza-escalation-says-ipmn

    by Noushin Framke, Communications Chair, IPMN

    November 16, 2012

  9. From the first few comments that express very different readings of the very same letter, I am deeply appreciative of the Stated Clerk's willingness to speak into a complex and chaotic time. May God's peace be with us all.

    by Bruce Reyes-Chow

    November 16, 2012

  10. I am proud to be Presbyterian when I see that the church is strongly on the side of peace and justice. However, we must be careful to not perpetuate the myth that Palestinians in Gaza are instigators of the conflict, as this article intimates. Gaza has been under siege for many years now, with the blockade and attacks from Israel that go unreported. For a more indepth look at what is happening, please check out IMEU, Institute for Middle East Understanding: http://imeu.net They show a timeline of events. They also document the inhumane conditions of life for Palestinians, in Gaza and in the West Bank. We need honesty and accuracy in our reporting and statements.

    by Susan Brooksbank

    November 16, 2012

  11. Israel is causing most of the trouble.

    by Bill McGrath

    November 13, 2012

  12. Mr. Parsons' comments in this letter and in the open letter to Congress that he signed with other religious leaders (in which he falsely represented himself as the voice of the Presbyterian Church USA) are in direct contravention of the GA mandate for constructive engagement. Furthermore, Parsons' position clearly reflects his personal prejudices against the Jewish State, his opposition to a fair, just, and lasting peace, and an absence of integrity for once again blaming the respondents to violence rather than condemning those who commit egregious provocations to war. If you cannot be fair and balanced, Mr. Parsons, then please silence yourself.

    by The Rev. Dr. Douglas Huneke

    November 13, 2012

  13. Weak and inconsequential commentary on what is obviously provocative attacks against the Israelis. How pathetic. Hundreds of rockets daily rain down on the Israel and all Gradye Parsons can do is give some sort of balanced statement that "the violence should stop." Moral equivalence it is not.

    by Dan McMillan

    November 13, 2012

  14. This is a very important and good statement concerning Gaza. I wish there was a way to make this a reality, a stronger message to Israel and Palestine. Thamnk you for sending this message.

    by Robert P. Coffman

    November 13, 2012

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