STATEMENT OF EPISCOPAL CONCERN FOR ISRAEL
April 12, 2002
WE THE UNDERSIGNED members of the community of Episcopalians in America, both clergy and lay, protest the unbalanced condemnations of the Jewish State issuing from the headquarters of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, and from other parts of our church hierarchy. In doing so, we offer the following PRINCIPLES for the prayerful consideration of all members of our faith:
- The fundamental cause of the conflict in the Middle East is the Arab refusal to accept the reality of a non-Muslim state in the region. This refusal is expressed not just as hatred for Israel, but as hatred of Jews everywhere, and it has been fostered for many decades by Arab governments and by the current leaders of the Palestinian people.
- The resolution of this conflict cannot be found until the Arab governments and Palestinian leaders stop fomenting the virulent anti-Semitic hatred found throughout the printed, electronic, and internet media in Muslim communities, which includes "blood libels" as terrible as anything found in Nazi Germany, and open praise of suicide bombers as "holy martyrs".
- The Bishops' desire for justice for the Palestinians should not obscure the terrible security problem that Israel has faced throughout its existence, surrounded by 22 countries that have sought its extinction, and subjected to a terror campaign against civilians that has gone on uninterrupted for over 50 years. The desire for peace must be accompanied by good judgment, and the judgment of the Bishops has been tragically
- Under constant attack, Israel has been forced to take self-defense measures which our local Bishops portray as an "unjust occupation" -- despite Israel's withdrawal of its military from Arab villages and towns in the 1990s -- turning the victimizers into victims and the victims into aggressors. This is morally confused and dangerous, because it rewards terror with concessions, and in the process encourages more terror.
- Israel has shown itself repeatedly to be ready for peaceful negotiations, honorable but painful concessions, and further talks. But every concession since 1948 has been met on the Palestinian side by demands for more concessions or, as in September of 2000, open warfare.
- We lament attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions that rise at an alarming rate all over the world. Just as church leaders helped prevent a backlash against innocent Muslims after the attacks of September 11, they should now speak out against the attacks on Jews and on Israel. By remaining silent they only encourage further anti-Semitic libels and
postpone the day when Arab and Muslim leaders finally and truly accept the necessity of living in peace with Israel.
- We urge all men and women of good will to stand with our Jewish friends at a time when the Arab war against Israel is being advanced by terror and anti-Semitism all over the world. We must not let this darkness fall again.