As presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, I join my colleague, the Rev. Dr. Sani Ibrahim Azar, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, in being “deeply dismayed at the ongoing Israeli military incursions into Palestinian communities, especially in the city and refugee camp of Jenin.”
I echo what Bishop Azar said in his recent statement: “The extensive damage to human lives and property, including the death of children, does not further the cause of justice and will not bring Israelis or Palestinians closer to peace or security. Our church calls for the upholding of human rights for Palestinians, for a ceasefire, and for an end to the occupation. We lift our prayers for all affected communities, and for the restoration of justice and peace for all of the peoples of the Holy Land.”
In addition, as noted by the World Council of Churches Central Committee late last month: “We are witnessing a recent surge in attacks against individuals, families, churches and holy sites, as well as physical and verbal abuse targeting clergy by Israeli radicals.” The Israel Defense Forces, the Israel Security Agency and the Israel Police also recently said: “These attacks contradict every moral and Jewish value; they constitute, in every way, nationalist terrorism.”
There must be accountability, not impunity. As a church that accompanies our Palestinian siblings, we call for justice and an end to extremism.
I remind all members of the ELCA that the 2016 Churchwide Assembly approved a memorial to “urge this church’s members, congregations, synods, agencies and presiding bishop to call on their U.S. Representatives, Senators and the Administration to take action requiring that, to continue receiving U.S. financial and military aid, Israel must comply with internationally recognized human rights standards as specified in existing U.S. law, stop settlement building and the expansion of existing settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, end its occupation of Palestinian territory and enable an independent Palestinian state .…”
It is past time that the administration and Congress pursue these objectives. The ELCA will continue our advocacy for justice in the Holy Land in collaboration with our ecumenical, interfaith and other partners who share our commitments to seeking a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis.
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America