Friday, September 17, 2010

Affirm this Letter!

Dear Friend,
Read the enclosed text of the letter sent to our President by the CMEP (Churches for ME Peace). It deserves to be disseminated and supported by you and others.
Written on August 30, it still expresses the hope that the parties will act in the best interests of each other.
It isn't just what they "say" (about settlements, e.g.). It is that the Israelis are actually refraining from adding to the settlements, perhaps even after the September 26 deadline passes (despite what is being reported in the press today).
Israel has been reluctant to add to the settlements ever since the Obama "team" made such a Big Deal out of it this spring; AND because Clinton, Mitchell and Obama are continuing to MAKE a BIG DEAL out of continuing the "freeze" RIGHT NOW.
This letter is gaining support, even among "evangelicals", (Jim Wallis, Lynne Hybels (Willow Creek Church), Gradye Parsons (PC-USA), Wes Granberg-Michaelson (RCA) and Tony Campolo.
There are so many ways for this current series of "negotiations" to "FAIL". We need not enumerate them.
But here is what is needed now: Right thinking. Courage. Moderation. Persistence in the face of serious distractions. Considering what is best for "the other"; not being deterred by the violence and counter violence even now taking place, in Gaza, e.g.
If Abbas can get this "done", it will be a blow to the rejectionists (HAMAS); and Netanyahu will be able to restrain the extremists in his Likud base (the settlers).
There are still many "ifs" that need definition and action. There is risk for our President as well, and a challenge he must face: The Israeli lobby.
We have been quick to criticize Palestinians "violence" and withhold support; we must also be ready to keep criticizing Israeli settlement resumption, and be ready to withhold support for it--something it will be hard for Obama to do politically as well. Yet with our support, he will be able to stand up for what is "right".
President Obama has correctly "framed" the issues: 1) Security for Israel (peace); and 2) Sovereignty for Palestinians (justice). Each demands the other.
There is no peace without justice; there is no justice without "concern for what is best for the other". Persistence in making the right choices, again and again, until we get it right. These times test the character of the American, Israeli and Palestinians soul. We need to grow up. All of us.
Pray and work as if your life depends on it; Pray and hope as if all depends on "God". And you'll get it right. JRK

August 30, 2010

Dear Mr. President,

As leaders of American Christian faith communities deeply concerned with the need to end the long-standing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, we are pleased with the success of your diplomacy in bringing the Prime Minister of Israel and the President of the Palestinian Authority together in Washington September 1-2 to restart direct negotiations aimed at reaching an agreement on final status issues within the coming year. We fully support your goal of ending the occupation that began in 1967 and achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace with a viable Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and security.

At the same time we have no illusions about the difficulty of the task ahead. Both sides hold deep convictions contrary to those held by the other. Although many issues have been clarified in past negotiations, major compromises by both sides will be needed at considerable political risk and cost. Without your help it seems unlikely that an agreement can be reached. Time is short. If an agreement is not reached within the coming year, it may not be reachable at all.

For that reason we call on you and your negotiating team to continue your vigilant efforts to help the parties find acceptable solutions. We are heartened by the statement of Senator George Mitchell that he will remain closely involved in the negotiations. The U.S. will need to empower both sides to take risks for peace and when necessary to make proposals to bridge remaining differences. The United States must be clear that actions or words by either side in the coming year that undermine confidence in the negotiations, incite disrespect or prejudge the outcome of final status issues will not be tolerated.

In support of this effort, we pledge to maintain and expand our dialogue on this issue with American Jewish and Palestinian communities and to assure them of our steadfast support for achieving the aspirations of both Israel and the Palestinian people for peace and security.

Mr. President, we are praying for you as you seek to bring God's justice and peace to a place torn by walls and weapons. We are convinced that with your vigilant support this dream can be fulfilled, and the lives of Palestinians and Israelis, as well as U.S. national security interests, can be transformed for the better.


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