Relief in Iraq & World Council of Churches on Israel/Palestine

After visiting the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, empty and badly scarred by Israeli firearms, one wonders where the Christian Churches are. I met the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Envoy in Jerusalem in the comfortable surroundings of the King David Hotel. I found out later that he had taken part in ending the siege of the Church of the Nativity. However it seemed he was far closer to the Israelis than the Palestinians. It seems to be forgotten that many Palestinians are Christians as well as Moslems. They appear to live side by side very well sharing the consequences of the Israeli occupation of their territory. They demonstrate by example what interfaith understanding should be. Who is listening? The links below lead to articles on the present situation.
Here there is also information on efforts to support peace in Iraq arguing for the withdrawal of foreign troops and an end to occupation. I would particularly urge you to watch the video clip Eyes Wide Open. This is a powerful statement about the dead of both US and Iraq and refers to events being held in Los Angeles during March. There is a petition addressed to George W. Bush.

Further views on Iraq by Iraqis.
The following is from an e-mail from the Middle East Fellowhips who have been rasing funds for relief efforts in Iraq and organising events in the U.S.
IRAQ RELIEF EFFORTS
Middle East Fellowship has helped raise over $20,000 for relief efforts in Iraq. The relief effort is being implemented by Nuhad Tomeh, one of our board members and the Presbytrian Church’s regional liaison for Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Iraq. We urge you to partner with us in this campaign.
WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES ENCOURAGES BOYCOTT
The World Council of Churches has issued a statement urging its members to consider the use of economic measures to wage peace in Israel and Palestine.
California Events: EYES WIDE OPEN EXHIBIT
American Friends Service Committee’s “Eyes Wide Open” Exhibit is coming to Los Angeles in March. The exhibit features a pair of boots honoring each U.S. military casualty, a field of shoes and a Wall of Remembrance to memorialize the Iraqis killed in the conflict, and a multimedia display exploring the history, cost and consequences of the war.


IRAQ RELIEF EFFORTS
Iraq has faced a variety of political, economic and social hardships in recent years. Currently, the situation is dire. Unemployment is extremely high, there is very little security, many have been injured or killed by coalition troops or insurgent violence and the political and economic future of the country seems uncertain. Middle East Fellowship has developed several emergency relief programs on behalf of the peoples of Iraq. The project is being implemented by Nuhad Tomeh, one of our board members and the Presbytrian Church’s regional liaison for Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Iraq. We have raised $20,000 in Iraqi relief aid and will continue to seek funds for these efforts.
Currently we have two campaigns. One is on behalf of the Iraqi Christian community who have endured several attacks on their churchs by radicals and, like all Iraqis, have suffered under the uncertainty and violence caused by the war and subsequent occupation. Our hope is to connect churches throughout North America and Europe with the Iraqi churches through this campaign. Middle East Fellowship has raised funds to help those Iraqi Christians in the greatest need and will work with the Middle East Council of Churches and other organizations to ensure the success of our efforts.
We are also seeking funds for the civilian victims of the military assault on Fallujuah who are still in need of basic assistance, such as dry foods and heaters. When Coaltion forces launched a major military offensive in Fallujuah, many Iraqis were forced to flee to Baghdad and other city centers. Many lost homes or property and are in great need of immediate economic assistance.
We urge you to partner with us in these efforts. Please also feel free to forward this article to anyone who might be interested in joining with Middle East Fellowship and Nuhad Tomei in assisting the peoples of Iraq.

WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES ENCOURAGES NONVIOLENT BOYCOTT OF CORPORATIONS INVOLVED IN THE OCCUPATION OF PALESTINIAN TERRITORY
According to a recent press release, the World Council of Churches is
encouraging its members to consider the use of economic measures as tool to wage peace in Israel and Palestine.
Here is part of the text of the release:
“The World Council of Churches (WCC) central committee reminded the
Council’s member churches that “with investment funds, they have an
opportunity to use those funds responsibly in support of peaceful
solutions” to the Israel/Palestine conflict.
“The WCC governing body encouraged the Council’s member churches “to give serious consideration to economic measures that are equitable, transparent and non-violent” as a new way to work for peace, by looking at ways to not participate economically in illegal activities related to the Israeli occupation. In that sense, the committee affirmed “economic pressure, appropriately and openly applied,” as a “means of action”.
“As an example, the WCC governing body mentions the “process of phased, selective divestment from multinational corporations involved in the occupation” now being implemented by the Presbyterian Church (USA). “This action is commendable in both method and manner, [and] uses criteria rooted in faith.”
“The recommendation, approved one day before the end of the 15-22 February meeting of the Council’s governing body in Geneva, is contained in a minute addressed to WCC member churches. In it, the committee also notes that “in the conflict in Israel and Palestine there is a renewal of hope, although there is not yet a reduction of the threats that separate the parties”.

California Events: EYES WIDE OPEN EXHIBIT
Eyes Wide Open, the American Friends Service Committee’s widely-acclaimed exhibition on the human cost of the Iraq War, features a pair of boots honoring each U.S. military casualty, a field of shoes and a Wall of Remembrance to memorialize the Iraqis killed in the conflict, and a multimedia display exploring the history, cost and consequences of the war.
When this exhibit was unveiled by our Chicago office in January 2004, there were 504 pairs of boots symbolizing the lost lives of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. With each passing week, each stop in a new city, more pairs of boots are added to represent the newly fallen. Alongside the boots stands a wall of remembrance with the names of the more than 11,000 Iraqi civilians who have been killed since the U.S.-led invasion.
At each stop, person after person leaves notes of commemoration, photographs of lost soldiers, identification tags, flowers, and American flags to accompany the boots on their journey.


QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
“A government that talks peace but continues to build settlements in occupied territory is either fraudulent or stupid. While I don’t rule out the possibility that the latter is true, I tend to think that the answer is the former.”
~Shay Rosen-Zvi, Israeli Refusenik

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