Web manager’s note: The following is a letter from the Primate to the editor of the National Post. It appeared on the newspaper’s letters page on April 6, 2002, alongside a letter from Marion Pardy, moderator of the United Church of Canada, who travelled with the Primate to the Middle East last spring.
Last spring, I had the opportunity, with a group of other Canadian church leaders, to experience first-hand the life of the Christian churches – our partners – in Palestine. We were deeply moved by the compassion and courage by which those churches live and serve. At the same time, we were horrified by the state of constant fear imposed on the Palestinian people by the armed forces of Israel. What we witnessed was a blatant double standard. The security and well-being of Israeli settlers mattered; that of the Palestinians did not.
The current violence in Palestine has deep roots, but Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory in defiance of United Nations resolutions is at its heart. The Anglican Communion has, since 1948, expressed concern for peace in Palestine, and the Anglican Church of Canada has expressed a similar concern in resolutions of General Synod. The United Nations, beginning with Resolution 194 in 1948, has been consistent in calling for justice for all the residents of Palestine. These resolutions challenge, not sovereignty of the state of Israel, but the use of the power of that state to uproot the Palestinian people. Our church and our tradition abhor violence. But peace without justice is as much a tragic illusion now as it was in the time of the prophet Jeremiah: “They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6.14)
When Israel withdraws from its illegal occupation of Palestine, when Palestinians are free to return in peace to their homeland, when civilians are no longer the targets of terror, either for suicide bombers or government tanks, then healing will begin. Any other path will simply entrench violence and death as the norm for this generation and many generations to come.
Michael G. Peers
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church of Canada
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