presiding bishop katharine jefferts schori

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Father Roy writes:  The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church is a woman who flies an airplane:  Katharine Jefferts Schori.  The PB calls for peace in the Middle East to become an election issue.  The text of her letter is pasted below.   Peace, Roy 

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

photo: Jonathunder (creative commons licence)

article source: Episcopal News Service

Presiding bishop writes to presidential candidates

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has written to the presidential candidates, urging President Barack Obama and the Hon. Mitt Romney “to use the debate forum to articulate strong support for a just and peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as a clear plan for how you would work to support that goal in the next four years.”

The following is the text of the letter:

October 12, 2012

The Hon. Barack Obama The Hon. Mitt Romney
c/o Obama for America c/o Romney for President
P.O. Box 803638 PO Box 149756
Chicago, IL 60686 Boston, MA 02114-9756

Dear Mr. President and Governor Romney,

As each of you prepares for the two remaining presidential debates, I write to urge you to use the debate forum to articulate strong support for a just and peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as a clear plan for how you would work to support that goal in the next four years.

While the volatile political nature across the Middle East has emerged as a key theme in this year’s campaign, I am concerned by the relative absence of discussion of a conflict that is central to that region’s future. This week Palestinian leaders have signaled their willingness to consider a return to the negotiating table, and it will be vital for the next President to prioritize the re-launch of the peace process and to articulate a clear vision for how American diplomatic leadership can assist and encourage negotiations.

Support for a two-state solution is the shared policy of the United States government, the government of Israel, and the Palestinian National Authority. The contours of such a solution should be clear to all: a secure and universally recognized Israel, the homeland for the Jewish people, standing alongside a viable, contiguous, and independent Palestinian state with a shared Jerusalem as the capital for each state. Despite widespread recognition that a solution should reflect this goal, progress toward it has remained elusive.

In the meantime, the level of strife in the conflict has grown. Several current trends give significant cause for alarm, including the threat to Israel’s security from others in the region, most especially a nuclear Iran; continued Israeli settlement building, particularly in and around Jerusalem, at a pace and pattern that complicates the territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state; unacceptable levels of violence on all sides; and the humanitarian disaster of the Gaza Strip. Each of these complicates the task of peace negotiations, and each passing day makes a final solution more difficult to achieve.

While it remains fundamentally true that only direct bilateral negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians themselves can bring about a just and lasting peace, history is clear that American political leadership has the power to play a catalytic role in supporting the work of peacemakers. As you present your foreign-policy plans to the American people, I urge you to discuss specifically how you would work with our nation’s partners in the Quartet for Middle East Peace to support the resumption and successful completion of negotiations. I urge you to be as specific as possible, considering not just the complexities of the issues to be resolved by the parties, but also the impact of such factors as the upcoming Israeli elections, Palestinian political division, rising unrest and extremism in the region, and the tragic humanitarian dimensions of the conflict.

As Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, I lead a faith community with a particular concern for peaceful resolution of this long and devastating conflict. Our Church’s partner in the region, the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, has stood for decades as a voice of peace and moderation – and a significant provider of healthcare, education, and social services – in the midst of the various instabilities of the region. The Diocese of Jerusalem, together with its Episcopal and Anglican partners in the United States and throughout the world, works to build understanding and reconciliation through these forms of human service – in Israel and the Palestinian territories, as well as Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. The Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, the Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, has described the role of Christians in the Holy Land as to “work together with people of other faiths to encourage the politicians to put politics aside and meet midway, where all people are equal.”

I believe that the next American President has an opportunity and a responsibility to help make this vision of reconciliation a reality. The peace and stability of the region, the safety and human dignity of those who live in the midst of this conflict, and the moral character of our own nation all require the full engagement of the United States and its President in the resolution of the conflict. Would that we were again known as builders of peace on the global stage!

Please know that my prayers are with each of you, and with our nation, in these undoubtedly challenging and personally costly final days of the campaign. I remain

Your servant in Christ

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop
The Episcopal Church

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The background to this open letter was a comment made by Katharine Jefferts Schori – the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States.    Schori apparently rejected the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli goods and services, saying “invest in Palestine don’t divest from Israel”. Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, the founder of ‘Sabeel’, points out the fates of Israel and Palestine cannot be so easily separated.

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An Open Letter to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori by Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek

3 April 2012

Dear Bishop Schori,

Greetings from Jerusalem on this holy week in which we remember the passion and suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Your words at the March 25th Los Angeles luncheon in which you emphatically said, invest in Palestine don’t divest from Israel reached us on Monday of Holy Week. Those words shocked and hurt us.  They felt like nails hammered into our bodies and the truth of our reality, as though we Palestinians are living a lie — only imagining things, and if we only eat, talk, and share our stories, everything will be alright.  For twenty years now, that is exactly what we have been doing – eating, drinking, telling each other our stories, not to mention hugging and embracing, meanwhile Israel was feasting on our land.  Your words sounded as someone who never came and never saw.  As we go through holy week, we feel the ongoing agony, pain, and oppression of our people — our homes demolished, our land confiscated, our olive trees uprooted, our human and political rights denied and our dignity trampled.  After over 40 years of misery we only hear “the Episcopal Church does not endorse divestment or boycott.”

 

Economists’ reports, including the World Bank’s, have emphasized the futility of investment under occupation since all key aspects of a true economy are directly in the hands of Israel the occupier.  Israel alone holds control of the area’s water, movement and access, every border, air-space, electricity, electromagnetic spectrum, and trade relations.  Moreover, the Palestinians have recognized Israel (1988) and its right to exist (1993).  They have renounced and denounced “terrorism” and accepted a Palestinian state on 22% of historic Palestine.

Yet, the occupation is not over. The settlements are expanding, our suffering continues, and the international community is unable to halt the injustice.  Consequently, we see boycott, divestment, and sanctions as nonviolent direct action for the common good.

We thank God for those people – Christians, Muslims, and Jews who have eyes to see and ears to hear.  Thank God for people of conscience who are lifting up their prophetic voice!  Thank God for all those, religious and secular people that are standing with us in our nonviolent struggle.

By the mercy of God we will not allow the prophetic voice to die.  Thank God for the prophetic voices of people who wrote comments after your words.  Thank God for Bishop Desmond Tutu who was not afraid to speak the truth to the powers when he saw the oppression of the Palestinians and declared that it was worse than Apartheid in South Africa!

It is appropriate to recall Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey.  The Pharisees wanted Jesus to silence the disciples and the crowd who were shouting “Hosanna!”  The word hosanna means save us now.  It was the cry of oppressed people who were living under Roman occupation. They were looking for liberation from the yoke of the Romans.  The powers were embarrassed and afraid of what the Roman soldiers might do as they were watching on.  They turned to Jesus and said, “order them to stop.”  Jesus’ response was, “if these were silent, the stones will shout out” (Luke 19:40).

If the church is afraid to cry out against injustice and oppression, the living stones, the common people will cry out.  It is the cry of the widow to the unjust judge, “give me justice!”  Ultimately, the future is for truth and justice because God is a God of truth and justice.  It is only on such foundations that genuine peace can be built.  It is not money that Palestinians need most, it is justice and liberation.  Everything else will be added to us.

Next Sunday we will proclaim the victory of life over death, of justice over injustice, light over darkness, liberation over enslavement.  We will continue to struggle for a just peace for all the people of our land.

Christ is Risen.

Naim Ateek

Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, Jerusalem

cc. Bishop Suhail Dawani

Bishop J. Jon Bruno