Mr. President: Press firmly for ceasefire in Gaza and Israel

July 22, 2014

Louisville

As a body of 1.7-million members and more than 10,000 congregations, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) calls on the president of the United States to press for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel.

The situation is escalating beyond control. The bloodshed and wielding of power in the contested land is unconscionable. Hundreds have been killed and thousands wounded, and the death toll continues to rise.

This day, we as people of faith and agents of peace call for an end to the shelling, an end to the rocketfire, an end to the ground attacks. Civilian casualties strewn in homes, on streets, and even within a hospital lie in the wake of Operation Protective Edge launched July 8 by the Israel Defense Forces. It must stop, and it must stop now.

The PC(USA) cries out for this immediate ceasefire knowing the issue is not simple. The drama is layered thick with the realities of contested borders, occupation, blockades, security concerns, failed negotiations, terrorism, and refugees.

Yet bombing and invading Gaza, and firing rockets indiscriminately into Israel will ultimately accomplish nothing more than to inflict harm on the innocent, incite fear and terror among Palestinians and Israelis, and prolong a centuries-old fight.

The Israeli government and Hamas—both complicit in the ongoing violence—must take steps immediately to halt the mayhem. Is it naïve to even suggest that the sides return to negotiations aimed at a two-state solution? Perhaps.

Yet as people guided by a triune God who is active in all facets of peace and reconciliation, we advocate for it anyway. We challenge the Israeli government and Hamas to put down their weapons of war and take up the instruments of dialogue and engagement.

Likewise, we urge U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, working in collaboration with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to take all necessary steps to facilitate both an immediate ceasefire and resumed peace negotiations.

Just as the United States has moved swiftly to provide $47 million in humanitarian assistance to Gaza, America also must lead the way in insisting on a ceasefire and enabling negotiations. Therefore, we urge President Obama to use all the diplomatic weight afforded the highest office of this nation to end this conflict, and support all steps toward lasting peace in the Middle East.

The Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Ruling Elder Heath K. Rada, Moderator, 221st General Assembly (2014)
Ruling Elder Linda Bryant Valentine, Executive Director, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Read this atricle is Spanish (Sr. Presidente: haga firme presión a favor del alto al fuego en Gaza e Israel)

Read this article in Korean. (대통령께: 가자 지구와 이스라엘에서의 휴전을 위해 단호히 대처해 주기 바랍니다)

  1. "This day, we as people of faith and agents of peace" Thinking you are doing something isn't always doing it because actions do not always fulfill wishes. Unfortunately the people who wrote this do not view most of their peers in the Jewish community who disagree with them as also being people of faith who are agents of peace.

    by David Marshak

    August 12, 2014

  2. In a nutshell, this is a "nice" letter, but a pipe dream. You can't negotiate with terrorists as we continually see in the broken cease fire agreements by Hamas. Until Hamas is removed from Gaza Israel remains at risk. Let's not forget that Israel is the only democracy in the region and is surrounded by countries pledged to their destruction. From a biblical standpoint I'm not sure a two state solution is correct. The land was given to the Jews. Deut: 1-3

    by Creighton Jenkins

    August 1, 2014

  3. In a Dec. 4, 2013 statement, the Office of the General Assembly reiterated this understanding: "The General Assembly does not claim to speak for all Presbyterians, nor are its decisions and policies binding on the membership of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)...." So I am curious how this latest public statement can begin with the words, "As a body of 1.7-million members and more than 10,000 congregations, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) calls on the president of the United States to press for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel." This is simply not a true statement. Offering falsehoods in the interest of furthering peace is only going to attenuate the effectiveness of any future statements made by the leadership of the PCUSA, since the signers have made it clear that they neither abide by denominational understandings of the limited role of GA and the OGA nor show much concern for truth in their attempts to exaggerate the amount of support behind their well-intended but shallow pleas for peace.

    by Mateen Elass

    July 24, 2014

  4. I am gratified to see these thoughtful statements issued by GA officials! I have been very concernwd that the denomination, following our historic vote on divestment, keep acting on behalf of a just peace and ending of the occupation in Israel/Palestine. I am also wondering about the route of delivery of the statements to the President and other recipients, the response if any, and whether or not there has been or is planned other publicity than this website, for instance press releases or a press conference. If not I would encourage this. Thank you. I am a retired clergy and a member of the Middle East Task Force of the Chicago Presbytery.

    by William Bigelow

    July 23, 2014

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