From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Middle East: "Where Will This Take Us?"

From "Frank Imhoff" <>
Date Thu, 06 Dec 2001 07:25:50 -0600

Lutheran Bishop Says Current Hostilities Create More Retaliation

CHICAGO, United States of America /GENEVA, 6 December 2001
(ELCANEWS/LWI) - Saying he is "very sorry" for the killing of
Israeli and Palestinian civilians, the Lutheran bishop in
Jerusalem has expressed deep concern about where current
hostilities in the Middle East will lead.

"Where will this take us?" asked the Rev. Munib A. Younan, bishop
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan (ELCJ), in a
telephone interview with *ELCANEWS on December 4. "This will not
take us anywhere. There will be more hate, more retaliation, more

The ELCJ has congregations in Jerusalem, Jordan and Palestine. The
bishop said most Palestinians are unable to travel to work because
the Israeli military has blocked or severely limited access
through key checkpoints. In Ramallah, the Lutheran School of Hope,
part of the Lutheran Church of Hope, has been closed because of
shelling, he said.

People can reach Bethlehem, an area under Palestinian control, but
getting out is "a nightmare," Younan said. Evangelical Lutheran
Christmas Church is in Bethlehem.

Younan made his comments amid recent bombings and heightened
military action. Two suicide bombings in Jerusalem, and two bus
bombings in Haifa in recent days left 25 Israelis dead and scores
of people injured.

The Israeli government blamed Yasser Arafat, leader of the
Palestinian Authority, for not stopping suicide bombings, and the
U. S. Administration said Israel has the right to defend itself
against such attacks.

In response to the bombings, the Israeli Defense Force destroyed
helicopters used by Arafat, and damaged his Gaza City compound. At
least three Palestinians were killed. On December 4 Israeli war
planes and helicopters struck five targets in Gaza and the West
Bank, including a building next to where Arafat was meeting with

Many Palestinian people are angry with the U. S. government for
giving Israel "the green light" to respond with military action,
Younan said. The U.S. government should be an "honest broker" in
seeking peace in the region, he said.

"Don't punish us as a nation because of what a handful of people
did," Younan said. "Retaliation and counter-retaliation takes us
nowhere. We expected Mr. Bush to tell both sides to stop it

Younan also disagreed with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's
contention that Israel is defending itself in the same way the
United States is acting in Afghanistan. "This is something
different," he said. The real issue is Israel's occupation of
Palestinian areas within the country. The occupation is the source
of Palestinian anger and must end, he stressed.

Younan said the ultimate goal must be to get all parties to the
negotiating table, where they can "build confidence in each

The ELCJ joined the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in 1974. The
LWF is involved in the search for peace in the Middle East through
continuous advocacy. At its annual Council meeting last June, the
federation stressed its call for negotiations that would lead to a
comprehensive and just settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian

*ELCANEWS - Evangelical Lutheran Church in America News Service

(The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the
Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund (Sweden), the LWF now
has 133 member churches in 73 countries representing over 60.5
million of the 64.3 million Lutherans worldwide. The LWF acts on
behalf of its member churches in areas of common interest such as
ecumenical relations, theology, humanitarian assistance, human
rights, communication, and the various aspects of mission and
development work. Its secretariat is located in Geneva,

[Lutheran World Information (LWI) is the information service of
the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). Unless specifically noted,
material presented does not represent positions or opinions of the
LWF or of its various units. Where the dateline of an article
contains the notation (LWI), the material may be freely reproduced
with acknowledgment.]

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