On the occasion of the 2019 World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, the bishops of England and Wales are urging readers of The Catholic Universe, as well as the international community, to support justice and peace in the Holy Land.
“This week is an important opportunity to enrich our prayer, deepen our awareness and strengthen our action in support of justice and peace in the Holy Land,” a spokesperson for the Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales told The Catholic Universe.
“For more than 50 years the scandal of occupation has violated the dignity of both Palestinians and Israelis.
“As Pope Francis reminds us, the search for peace can never be separated from the defence of basic human rights: ‘For the good of all, there is a need to intensify efforts and initiatives aimed at creating the conditions for a stable peace based on justice, on the recognition of the rights of every individual, and on mutual security’.”
The World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel runs from Sunday 15th to Sunday 22nd September, with this year’s theme focussing on ‘Humanity and Equality in God’s Creation’, as announced by The World Council of Churches.
Pax Christi International has also marked the occasion by joining the call for all to acknowledge and defend humanity and equality in God’s creation.
“Pax Christi members have campaigned for a just peace in Palestine and Israel for many, many years,” Theresa Alessandro, director of Pax Christi, told The Catholic Universe. “We hear from our partners in the region distressing accounts of deep and worsening injustice, violence and suffering with no end in sight.
“Any society where a huge wall divides communities is one where hope is hard to find,” she continued. “During this week especially, we join people of goodwill in Palestine and Israel and around the world in calling for a change of heart and of political structures, a recognition of the humanity and rights of all who live in Palestine and Israel.
“We welcome the significant work of accompaniment, peace and nonviolence education, awareness-raising, and acts of solidarity by which so many people are working to try and resolve this conflict,” Ms Alessandro added.
In a statement, marking World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, Pax Christi International pointed out that calls for humanity and equality could not be more urgent for those whose lives and futures are affected daily by the realities in Israel-Palestine.
‘The ongoing conflict in Israel-Palestine has created victims from all communities,’ Pax Christi International revealed. ‘Both Israelis and Palestinians have suffered at the hands of each other and both are responsible for egregious acts that have harmed innocent people. Our peace movement denounces all acts of violence and believes that all those who promote acts of aggression must be held accountable. We support all organisations in Israel and Palestine that are seeking nonviolent solutions to this conflict.’
The peace movement warns that the ‘cycle of violence and revenge’ has ‘fuelled a virulent dehumanisation by some toward the other’ and has created a ‘toxic environment’ that demeans the basic humanity of some and elevates the inherent value of others.
‘It is, at its core, the most dangerous threat undermining hopes for a just and sustainable peace,’ warned Pax Christi International. ‘For Palestinians, whether they live in Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) including East Jerusalem, as fourth-generation refugees in United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) camps or in the diaspora, their basic human rights and freedoms are too often violated and their humanity made elusive.’
Pax Christi International pointed out that in Israel, Palestinian Arab Israeli citizens constitute approximately 21 per cent of the population.
It said it is ‘deeply concerned’ by the passage and enforcement of more than 65 Israeli laws that either explicitly discriminate or have in their implementation a significantly more disparate impact on Palestinian Arab Israeli citizens.
‘We must ask ourselves that if we embrace the belief that all humans are created by God as equals and that all persons deserve to live in fullness with dignity and equal rights, must we not raise our collective voices to demand that Palestinians and Israelis share equally in these inalienable gifts from God?’ the peace movement said.
‘Pax Christi International strongly affirms its commitment to advocate for a just and sustainable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which recognises, affirms and protects the human dignity of every woman, man and child.
‘We call on the international community to assert its influence and push for a renewed peace process based on respect and protection of human rights,’ Pax Christi International added.
Picture: The Bishop of Clifton, Declan Lang, right, shakes hands with Palestinian Christian Daoud Nassar at the Tent of Nations on 16th January 2017. (CNS photo/Debbie Hill).