GRAFTON, Mass. — As we watch the ongoing wave of violence in the Holy Land — with Palestinians attacking Israelis with knife stabbings and car run overs seemingly at random, and the severe Israeli response to the terror — we ask ourselves, how the Church should respond?
Israelis now live in fear of leaving their homes and becoming the target of a random terror attack. Innocent Palestinians fear being mistaken for a terrorist and arrested or shot by Israeli police.
As expected in this conflict with two opposing narratives, each side blames the other. Israelis refer to widespread incitement on social media, from Hamas, Islamists within Israel and even Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. Palestinians point to provocative behavior on the part of right wing Jews on the Temple Mount, and frustration with the occupation.
“As we watch the spread of Jewish and Palestinian blood, we feel called to help our brothers and sisters of all faiths in the Holy Land,” says Reverend Jane Willan, pastor of the Congregational Church of Grafton and Steering Committee Member of the UCC Clergy For A Just Middle East Peace. “The lives and futures of two peoples are at stake, and we cannot afford to resort to shallow responses such as accusing Palestinians of not wanting peace, or divesting from Israel. In this complex conflict, simplistic answers help no one.”
“As Christians, we are always called to be reconcilers and peace makers,” adds Rebecca Wiseniewski, also a Steering Committee Member. “It is truly time for the Church to search for a new approach. An approach which will bring healing to both people, and help them find a creative and bold new vision for peace.”