Church Leaders Discuss Middle East Peace with Secretary of State Colin Powell

By Strickert, Fred | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, September 3, 2001 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Church Leaders Discuss Middle East Peace with Secretary of State Colin Powell


Strickert, Fred, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


Church Leaders Discuss Middle East Peace With Secretary of State Colin Powell

Dr. Fred Strickert is professor of religion at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.

"Shout out from the tops of church steeples your concern for Middle East peace."

With these words Secretary of State Colin Powell offered a delegation of church leaders encouragement and hope. The delegation of 10 church leaders met with Powell on June 7 to present a formal letter and to discuss the churches' concern for U.S. policy in the Middle East.

THE BISHOPS' LETTER

"There is no higher priority for peacemaking in the world today than between Israel and the Palestinians," said the 16 bishops and representatives of Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox churches whose names were affixed to the letter. They referred to the conflict as "a cancer that threatens the health of the whole region, U.S. relations with Arab and Muslim countries, and interfaith relations worldwide."

The letter was an outgrowth of the delegation of church leaders which visited the Middle East last December. It described how that earlier delegation "saw the destruction wrought by Israel's military might on the homes and livelihood of the Christian towns of Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and Beit Sahour.

"We have heard from our Palestinian Christian partners, and seen for ourselves," they said, the destructive impact of Israel's settlement policy separating village from village, confiscating more and more Palestinian land, creating friction with its military checkpoints."

In their letter, the church leaders reminded Secretary Powell that the churches have appealed to the U.S. government for over 20 years regarding the issue of settlements. While successive administrations have also spoken out, the Israeli government has ignored U.S. advice and continued expansion of Jewish-only settlements.

The leaders noted with dismay "Israel's practice of assassination and economic strangulation of the fledgling Palestinian state as counterproductive to either security or peace," and called upon Israel "to abandon military force and return to negotiations as the path to security."

Methodist Bishop William Oden emphasized that the letter was not one-sided. "I don't believe the letter was tilted toward the Palestinians and was not even-handed," he was quoted in a religious news service story. "The security of Israel is important to the United States, as is the independence of Palestine."

In addition to its criticism of Israeli policy, the leaders appealed to the Palestinians "to abandon violence as a means to end the occupation." Nevertheless, unlike many media reports and unlike administration statements, the church leaders did not see "the Palestinian uprising" as the root of the problem. "We understand the rage that comes from decades of occupation, dislocation and the feeling of having been betrayed by the peace process," the leaders noted. The problem, they said, is the escalating cycle of violence: "Breaking the cycle of violence is fundamental to restarting the peace process and rebuilding the hope and will for peace."

Finally, the bishops offered criticism of the U.S. role as weapons supplier for Israel in this conflict: "The use of F-16 fighter jets against civilian populations is unacceptable and must be challenged by the U.S. government."

Likewise they questioned the use of attack helicopters as being in violation of U.S. law covering "end-use" in weapons sales, calling for a suspension of further sales and a reconsideration of Clinton administration promises to increase military aid to Israel over the next eight years.

In order to bring a halt to inappropriate weapons use and to stop settlement activity, it was suggested that the Bush administration apply "considerable diplomatic pressure and possibly economic pressure."

The letter concluded by expressing a concern which "extends to each person suffering from this conflict.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Church Leaders Discuss Middle East Peace with Secretary of State Colin Powell
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?