An Inter-religious Call to the US Government

The destruction of lives and communities and human dignity now happening in the Middle East besmirches the very Name of God and endangers the peace of the world.

We condemn the deliberate targeting of civilians through suicide bombings.

We condemn the totally foreseeable and inevitable deaths of civilians through the shelling and bombing of their neighborhoods.

We condemn the use of violence to pursue political ends.

Whether these various acts of violence are "morally equivalent" or not means little to the dead, the maimed, and their suffering survivors. What matters is to end this violence.

The Israeli and Palestinian peoples seem unable to do so because they are caught up in the fear and rage that has spiraled out of control. For the sake of human decency and for the sake of the peace of the world as a whole, we call on the United States to act.

The immediate present and the future are intertwined so tightly that action by the United States must address both: On the one hand, the immediate violen ce cannot be ended without swift motion to achieve a solution in which a secure State of Israel and a viable State of Palestine live side by side in peace. On the other hand, that goal cannot be achieved without ending the present violence. Both hands are necessary.

We therefore call on the United States to take two actions at once, and simultaneously:

1. Bring about the creation of an international force to protect both Israelis and Palestinians from violence.

2. Call a regional peace conference including Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and all the Arab states, and peace-committed religious leaders and leaders of civil society in the region, to take up at once the Saudi proposals for regional peace endorsed by the Beirut Conference and the peace proposals that came close to agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority at Taba late in 2000.

The United States should bend every effort to secure agreement on the emergence of a viable Palestine and a secure Israel, based on the 1967 boundar ies with adjustments that the two parties mutually agree on, and on commitments to meet the moral and material needs of the region's refugees while preserving Israel's character as an expression of Jewish peoplehood and Palestine's ability to meet the deep needs of the Palestinian people wherever they live.

Today all the holy places in the Middle East are being desecrated by violence, whether they are under direct attack or not. Only in such a settlement can the holiness of those places be affirmed. Today the Image of God in every human being is being desecrated. Only through such a settlement can the greatness of God be affirmed.

In the Name of God Who is compassionate and just, in the Name of God Who suffers in the suffering of human beings, in the Name of God Who demands that we pursue justice through just means and seek peace by actively pursuing it, we call on the United States to act at once.

Initiators: Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary, National Council of the Churches of Christ; Rev. Jim Wallis, editor, Sojourners; Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Break the Silence.

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