by NZ CATHOLIC staff
AUCKLAND – The Auckland Anglican and Catholic Bishops called on the New Zealand government called on Israel to return to “its pre-1967 borders as a pre-requisite for dialogue to establish a lasting and just settlement in the Holy Land.”
Bishops of the Anglican Diocese of Auckland Ross Bay and Jim White and Catholic Bishop Patrick Dunn “to assist refugees from war and violence and to be generous in allowing re-settlement in New Zealand” as they also urged the government to work hard to attain peace through diplomatic channels in war-torn Gaza.

A man carries a Palestinian girl, whom medics said was wounded in an Israeli airstrike, at a hospital in Gaza Aug. 8. Father Raed Abusahlia, president of Caritas Jerusalem, which is operating in Gaza, has expressed grave concern for the coastal strip's residents with fighting once again erupting between Israel and Hamas. (CNS photo/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa, Reuters) See GAZA-ABUSAHLIA Aug. 8, 2014.

In a statement, the three bishops said, “we believe the continued violence in Gaza violates the human dignity of Palestinians and Israelis alike, and condemn all parties who are capitalising on this tragedy in pursuit of their own selfish political ends.”
The bishops aired their support to the appeals made by Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon for peace in the Holy Land. “We pray for peace on earth and a just solution to all forms of social injustice,” they said.
“Violence and war are never a proper solution to disagreements, and the Israeli bombing and missiles and the Hamas rockets targeted at civilian populations is a grave moral evil,” they said.
They expressed sadness over the deaths of more than 2,000 people due to the violence.
“Retaliation and violence are never the right responses and will only make problems worse, harden positions on all sides, foster vengeance and hatred, causing more deaths, destruction and human suffering. All of these will prevent peace from becoming a reality,” the bishops said.
The bishops entire statement follows:

A call for peace and justice in the Holy Land

In accordance with repeated requests by the United Nations we, Bishop Patrick Dunn and Bishop Ross Bay, on behalf of the Catholic and Anglican communities in Auckland, call on Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders as a pre-requisite for dialogue to establish a lasting and just settlement in the Holy Land.

We believe the continued violence in Gaza violates the human dignity of Palestinians and Israelis alike, and condemn all parties who are capitalising on this tragedy in pursuit of their own selfish political ends.

We note with sorrow the deaths in the violence of more than 1900 people, the majority of them civilians, and are appalled that around one third of victims are children with one being killed on average each hour the conflict continues.

Violence and war are never a proper solution to disagreements, and the Israeli bombing and missiles and the Hamas rockets targeted at civilian populations is a grave moral evil.

Retaliation and violence are never the right responses and will only make problems worse, harden positions on all sides, foster vengeance and hatred, causing more deaths, destruction and human suffering. All of these will prevent peace from becoming a reality.

We support Pope Francis’ appeal for the “courage to forge a peace which rests on the acknowledgment by all of the right of two States to exist and to live in peace and security within internationally recognized borders.”

We join with the Archbishop of Canterbury, who declared that: “As each day passes we see more innocent lives, including those of children, lost in the terrible cycle of revenge – no good can possibly come of this.)

We also support the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon who has stated that “in the name of humanity” an “immediate and unconditional” ceasefire must happen, allowing for the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip.

We reject all forms of anti-Semitism and anti-Arab racism and support the many initiatives that encourage Israelis and Palestinians to get to know and understand each other and so grow towards peace.

We call on the New Zealand Government to make full use of all diplomatic channels to work hard towards an immediate end to the violence and for a just resolution of the injustices faced by the Palestinian people as well as the difficulties faced by Israelis who are living in fear as a result of the conflict.

These injustices demonstrate a loss of dignity and humanity for all sides in this conflict and there are serious wrongs perpetuated by them all.

For the Palestinians the loss of land, intimidation and harassment by Israeli security forces, the blockade of Gaza, the illegal Israeli settlements, the cruel security wall dividing people, and the hindering of their travel with unfair travel restrictions result in inhuman living conditions, unemployment and poverty.

For the Israelis the constant threat from Hamas rockets, the use of tunnels by suicide bombers and militants who are intent on attacking civilian targets, and the ever increasing tension all mean that life is wretched for ordinary citizens.

We call on our government to assist refugees from war and violence and to be generous in allowing re-settlement in New Zealand when needed, and encourage the government, aid agencies and individuals to continue to be generous in donating humanitarian medical and food supplies for the victims of war and violence.

We support the efforts of Israeli and Palestinian peace groups to find a solution to the conflict.

We take great heart from the many people around the world who have spoken out for peace, participated in peace rallies and taken action to end the violence. And we seek to follow the example of all those who have struggled hard for social justice, rejecting the way of violence and war and refusing to kill their fellow human beings who are made in the image and likeness of God.

We pray for peace on earth and a just solution to all forms of social injustice.

Bishop Ross Bay and Bishop Jim White, Bishops of the Anglican Diocese of Auckland

Bishop Patrick Dunn, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Auckland

9 COMMENTS

  1. This meaningless pap above means nothing in the real world. Hamas, in Gaza and elsewhere, is fighting God’s chosen people, the apple of His eye, the very race from which the Lion of Judah sprang.
    Have you no understanding at all of the importance of Israel to the Lord God?
    Don’t you ever read the Bible and know that He is going to come and destroy her enemies with a terrible destruction?
    What is the point of saying anything if you can’t speak the truth that God has so graciously given us?
    Hamas is a terrorist band of ugly and cruel thugs. You must know that Israel is a hundred miles above such terrorism-obsess madmen and only does what it does in defence of God’s chosen ones.
    Israel must not give an inch but must them until they are cowed into silence. It won’t be hard, they are gutless cowards who prey on the defenceless among them – little children and babies.
    I’m disgusted that you can talk such mindless piffle.

  2. Sad that so many leaders don’t realise that to trust a terrorist organizations media releases via those who want a story, are most likely not telling the TRUTH. There are too many lies from Hamas to take seriously even the photos that we are allowed to view, and interviews that are monitored by Hamas… they control GAZA for their aim-to push the Jews into the sea. Read their charter and look at the fruit of the millions being poured into this area. The people will be set free only when Israel takes the land back and brings peace to those who want it. Hamas wants war, and lives are expendable and cheap in their ideology.

    The facts are there to see but people are fooled by what the reporters get to tell us from Hamas’ PR. media men.
    My Bible says that this land belongs to God, and He’s given it to His Jewish People in covenant. And He does not break covenant, even if one party does not keep their part.
    PLEASE lets all help the poor ARABS of GAZA by getting rid of Hamas, not by accusing Israel of defending her people
    (The term Palestinian is mis appropriated -read the history books written before Arafat ‘s .replacement history came to be accepted. Palestine is not the Biblical name, the Arabs, Christians, and Jews who live there are from the land of Israel, the Promised Land or the Holy Land and since Roman occupation- Palestine. God calls it His land for His name sake and His Son’s return to this piece of His creation..

  3. The recent article in NZ Catholic causes me some very grave concern. A careful reading brings me to the conclusion that it was mandated by requests from the UN.
    The article says what is obvious really. War is hell and innocents suffer, it is best to talk and resolve conflict by adult humanitarian means etc. It disturbs however when the intent of the article seems to be to pressure Israel and play a part in the negotiations by laying down requirements that Israel must meet but none that Hamas has to agree to.
    Another misjudgement in my view is to consider the conflict in purely political terms rather than religious or ideological. This is a very grave error. It has been well said that if the “Israelis laid down their arms there would be slaughter of Jews but if the Hamas laid down their arms there would be peace.” After all, what do the tunnels target?
    In any matter context is most important and so the history of present day Israel deserves study. A quick 5 minute précis at,You tube: Prager “The middle Easy Problem” would serve as a primer.
    Hamas runs Gaza at present. Their Mission statement would read “elimination of the Jews”: complete and utter.
    Hamas charter 1988. The platform of the Islamic Resistance movement.
    Intro. .. Hence our permanent state of preparedness and our readiness to sacrifice our souls etc… in the path of Allah.
    …our struggle against the Jew is extremely wideranging and grave, so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield…
    Article 1 “The Islamic Resistance Movement draws its guidelines from Islam……thinking, interpretations, life and humanity ….. is inspired by it in whatever step it takes.”
    Article 3…. raised banner of Jihad in face of oppressors etc
    Article 4 “movement welcomes all Muslims …Allah will reward..”
    Article 5 “Only under Islam ….will all members of regions coexist in safety etc”
    Article 7 …..”The prophet said: “The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews and kill them; until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees which will cry: O Muslim there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and Kill Him. “(Bukhari Hadith)
    Article 8 Slogan: “Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Quran its constitution, Jihad its path and death for the cause of Allah its most sublime belief”
    Article 32 mentions the infamous spurious “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” as being genuine.
    Enough to show that the goal of Hamas is destruction of Israel not peace and is based on divine unchangeable mandate.
    The first victim of this type of motivation is the Muslim himself. The second is the unbelievers. (you and me) and which is currently happening as “Islamic State” gains power and influence in Iraq. Persecution of Christians and fellow Muslims is widespread and appalling.
    Reformed theology should not stop one from looking things squarely in the eye and appreciating the dangers inherent in Radical Islam today. It behoves every right thinking person to study history and Islam very carefully indeed.
    One does not ascertain truth by counting heads (even those with mitres upon them)
    Sincere regards
    Peter Mills

  4. What Islam and Hamas does to Christians

    I am deeply concerned when i see letters condemning Israel when almost all Islamic counties regularly deny women’s rights to the point of stoning them, gays are killed, Christians jailed or beheaded, public executions are carried out as though this is normal behavior in public areas. No freedom of the press or free and fair elections, streets get named after suicide bombers, school children in Gaza are taught that Israelis are Pigs or Apes and Christians should be killed along with the Jewish population. I have yet to see the public outcry at these atrocity’s – only condemning Israel and turning a blind eye to the many well documented human rights abuses in the Middle East is Anti-antisemitism. We are right to criticize Israel, but not only Israel.

  5. The bishops opened with “Israel should return to its pre 1967 borders.” A very telling statement! Israel did accept when the UN granted the Jews a homeland; the Arabs (Jordanians) refused and immediately declared war on the fledgling state. Approximately 750,000 Jews fled Arab lands and were integrated into the Western societies where they settled.
    For example, Iraq’s Jews numbered 140,000 in 1948: today they number 0. It is the Christian’s turn now as the Islamist fanatics would have a caliphate to cover the whole of the Middle East and much much more…… Do you think the attempt to kill the Jews would stop with the Jews if Hamas was successful? You would need to be very naïve to think so.
    Why do the bishops not demand that Hamas accept Israel’s right to exist and that they remove from their charter:
    Article 6: … strive to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.
    Article 7: last sentence is “To kill all the Jews.”

    Hamas makes it very clear that they will kill all the Jews. Hitler also made that clear before he tried to.

    Before 1948 Jews living in the Holy Land were known as Palestinians and Arabs as Arabs, some of whom lived in Palestine.

    Since 1948 Israel has won every war and that which you call “1967 borders” are nothing of the sort; they are armistice lines. One of many examples of how truth is distorted. It is anti-semitic because they have one rule for the rest of the world and another for Jews. Egypt made peace with Israel and supported Israel’s recent “Operation Protective Edge” which was aimed at destroying Hamas’ tunnels which began under hospitals, schools and mosques. When 90% of UNRWA staff are paid Palestinians is it any wonder that they are corrupt and shut their eyes to Hamas’ human rights abuses.

    Some recent headlines you might like to Google:
    Is UNRWA Aiding Terrorism?
    A British Muslim Visits Israel For The First Time.
    Gazans Suspected of Collaborating With Israel Are Executed AUG. 22, 2014
    Melanie Phillips: Western Jewry – Paying the Price for Gaza
    An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth

  6. Now that the rockets have stopped?

    Israeli Children, Parents On Gaza Border Start New School Year with Mixed Feelings
    By Anav Silverman Tazpit News Agency [no copyright]

    On Monday, September 1, schools across Israel opened the school year, as 2,105,394 children took their places in the classrooms a week after a 50-day war with Hamas ended in a ceasefire agreement on August 26. In southern Israel, where cities and communities were most affected by Hamas rocket fire and terror attacks, special activities took place to help children ease back into school following a summer spent mostly in bomb shelters.

    “There are mixed feelings – there is great happiness going back to a routine,” Sharon, a mother from Kibbutz Or HaNer, near Sderot, told Tazpit News
    Agency. “On the other hand, we do not know what will happen next with the ceasefire,” said Sharon, whose children go to school in the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council.

    “The children were really happy to go back to school, to walk around freely for the first time in months. Just today, the kids and I had ice cream for the first time all summer sitting out on the grass,” Sharon told Tazpit.

    “There is a feeling that the war stopped, but also that it hasn’t. Parents here are full of emotions regarding the return to school after such a difficult summer. Many of us became refugees from the rockets. Just think, teachers who went through this horror themselves are opening the school year,” she added.

    Over 4,562 rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip during the summer, striking civilian population centers throughout the country.

    Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Education Minister, Shai Piron and Finance Minister, Yair Lapid, showed solidarity with southern Israelis today, visiting schools in southern Israel. In Sderot, Prime Minister Netanyahu visited a new religious elementary school with Sderot mayor, Alon Davidi. The prime minister spoke with first grade students who spent the first lesson learning about the Hebrew alphabet.

    “I know that you spent your vacation doing things not according to what you planned,” the prime minister said.” I hope that during the upcoming holidays you will have the
    chance to have some fun, to play and to be with your families and friends,” the Israeli PM told the first graders.

    “Be good friends with each other and hunger for knowledge. This is what distinguishes us and gives our people special strength,” he said.. “We are the People of the Book and today the people of the tablet as well. We hold on to our heritage and also the future. Study the Bible, our heritage, math, computers and science. Acquire knowledge for the sake of the nation of Israel, for the state of Israel, for the land of Israel, for yourselves and your families.” ”

    Among the 2 million students starting school, 149,705 are first graders and 122,750 students are entering the 12th grade. The Absorption Ministry also pointed out that 1,900 students are new immigrants and are entering the Israeli school system for the first time, which includes 250 first graders.

    Education Minister, Shai Piron further added that that he was assigning a special assignment to the first graders this school year, which he noted wasn’t homework but classwork. “Look around you. See who may not have many friends and who may have had few visitors this summer. If a kid doesn’t come to school because he is sick, don’t forget to call him. Act with respect to your teachers. And when you speak to each other on the playground, do not forget to use clean language.”

    “Our biggest test is not how we act during times of war but how we act during times of peace. The true test is about morality, identity and love of mankind,” said Piron during his visit to the south.

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  7. The call of the Bishops for Israel to return to “its pre-1967 borders as a pre-requisite for dialogue” seems oblivious to the fact that with regard to the Gaza Strip, Israel did exactly that 9 years ago.
    In a bid for peace and dialogue, Israel withdrew to the 1949 Armistice line between Israel and Gaza (which was never a “border”) and gave the people of Gaza full control over their own territory, with zero territorial claims against Israel.

    However, far from leading to “dialogue to establish a lasting and just settlement”, the people of Gaza elected Hamas, a terrorist organization which calls for the complete destruction of Israel and the massacre of all non-Muslims, and then to show that they were serious, fired thousands of rockets at Israeli towns, hitting homes, schools, synagogues, and kindergartens.

    All Israelis pray and hope for peace, but calling for a unilateral territorial compromise, without any guarantee that the territory will not be used to attack Israeli civilians is a call for war, not for peace.

    With blessings of Peace,

    Michael
    (Modi’in, Israel, formerly of Lower Hutt)

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