Sunday, February 27, 2005

I Write to the London Times

The UK London Times published a letter signed by the Bishops of Winchester, Bath and Wells, Chelmsford, Coventry and Exeter on February 24 (see A below). Lord Carey replied the next day (see B below).

So, I thought I'd write too as I am more than a part of all this, being one of those people "holding up peace" and the rest of the claptrap that is bandied about by these British clergymen.

So, this is what I sent:

"The Bishops' letter (Feb. 24) on Middle East peace not only avoids the issue of Arab-initiated violence of the most horrific kind as Lord Carey of Clifton highlights (Feb. 25), a blood shedding which we have witnessed now yet once again in Tel Aviv, but irrationally places the blame for Palestinian despair of ever seeing "tangible improvements" by pointing an accusing finger at the expansion of Jewish communities, construction of which must be frozen they demand.

"An easy response to these men of the Church would be to ask them to review the Bible, a book that provides a fair case for Jews to be living in Shiloh, Beth El and Hebron. But I would seek their understanding of why I and others am living in thedisputed territories of Judea, Samaria and Gaza by pointing out that Arab hostility and despair is unconnected to this activity and predated it.

"Prior to 1967, no so-called "occupation" existed and certainly no "settlements" were extant. Yet, Arabs were practicing terror and the Palestine Liberation Organization had been founded two and half years before the Six Days War provided Israel the opportunity for Jews once again to administer area that the League of Nations had intended to be part and parcel of the Jewish National Home.

"Consequently, any freezing or, worse, dismantlement of these communities will have no bearing on any 'peace'. They are not the cause of Arab terror and therefore cannot solve any problem the Bishops presume exists.

"Would the removal of Arab communities from Israel be considered an option in an effort to achieve peace? Why should Jewish revenant rights be discarded?"

Sir, We welcome the Government’s initiative in organising the London conference on the Middle East next week. This is an opportunity to strengthen the Palestinian Authority in making its contribution to peace.
The conference must address why previous initiatives failed.
During the 1990s, Palestinians witnessed a doubling of the settler population, and a deterioration in living standards. The Oslo accords were thwarted by the Palestinian inability to see tangible improvements on the ground.
Popular support is vital to any future peace process, not least because it will negate the militant influence. Tackling Palestinian poverty cannot be divorced from the political process.
In restoring the Palestinian Authority’s capacity to address poverty, the Government should work with indigenous civil society organisations. However, this strategy will count for little unless Israel can also be persuaded to freeze settlement construction and land confiscation.

Yours sincerely,
Church House,
Great Smith Street,

The Bishops of Winchester, Bath and Wells, Chelmsford, Coventry and Exeter (letter, February 24) are surely right in observing that the Prime Minister’s conference next week could mark a significant milestone on the long and bloody search for a lasting peace in the Middle East. However, I am surprised that they appear not to recognise that, as well as the problem of the settlements, atrocities against Jewish people have played their part in delaying that peace which is the dream of both Palestinians and Jews.
In the Alexandrian Declaration by religious leaders in the region, which I had the honour of co-chairing two years ago, we stated that “killing innocents in the name of God is a desecration of his Holy Name”. All three religions in the region should observe this and teach it — that is why a religious track to the political process is essential and should not be overlooked.

House of Lords

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