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Reports 1995-1998 Edited by Dwain C. Epps

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Statement on U.S. and U.K. attacks on Iraq

Issued in Geneva, 17 December 1998.

The World Council of Churches condemns in the strongest possible terms the attacks on Iraq initiated during the night of 16 December by forces of the United States and the United Kingdom. We call for an immediate cessation of these attacks.

With the Secretary General of the United Nations we regard this as a sad day for the UN, for international diplomacy, and for the international rule of law.

Nearly eight years ago, the Seventh Assembly of the World Council of Churches condemned the Gulf War, which was raging as that Assembly met, and warned of its consequences for world order. The resolution of that Assembly and succeeding ones issued by the Council's Central and Executive Committees expressed deep concern about the consequences of such attacks, and of never ending sanctions, on the civilian population of Iraq, and we reiterate that urgent concern today.

The leaders of the two nations engaged in these attacks have said that there is no realistic alternative to the use of military force. The Eighth Assembly of the WCC, just concluded in Harare, Zimbabwe, has rejected such reasoning, and reaffirmed the Council's appeal that churches and nations give up the spirit, logic and practice of war as a solution to world problems. This Assembly has again decried the application of double standards by the nations, by which attacks such as these, which ignore the will of the civilian population of Iraq, are allowed, while the appeals of peoples such as those in Central Africa and Sudan for strong international intervention for peace fall on deaf ears.

The present attacks against Iraq which take place during the Christian season of Advent, and on the eve of the Muslim season of Ramadan, will be seen by people of these faiths around the world as an act of profound cynicism which injures religious sensitivities of believers in this season when both Christians and Muslims pray fervently for peace.

We therefore reiterate our appeal for the immediate cessation of these attacks. We reassure the people of Iraq of our constant prayers for their safety and well being. And we appeal in this Christmas season especially to the Christian leaders of the United States and Great Britain to open their hearts, to turn to God, and to respond to the promise and hope offered the world by the Almighty One who chose to reveal Himself to the world as the infant Jesus, the Prince of Peace.


Expression of condolences on the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin

Letter to H.E. Yosef Lamdan, Ambassador of Israel to the United Nations in Geneva, 6 November 1995.

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the World Council of Churches I have the very personal desire to express to you and through you to the Government and people of Israel sincere condolences on the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. I have today issued the enclosed statement which I would request you to transmit to your government in appropriate ways. The World Council of Churches will continue to support the search for peace with justice for Israel and its neighbours in the Middle East.

With respectful regards,

Yours sincerely,

Konrad Raiser

General Secretary

Statement on the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin

Issued by the General Secretary, 6 November 1995.

Once again the cruel hand of intolerance and hatred has struck down a leader who had the courage to choose the path of peace out of the wilderness of endless war. Israel, the Middle East and the world are impoverished by this ignominious deed and the loss it has caused.

As Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin was wise enough to see that in these lands, considered holy by those who follow the three Abrahamic faiths, there must be room for all and a way to live together in peace.

May God grant that those who resist such a choice take this tragedy as a warning and as an opportunity to turn towards the promise of a common future for Israel and its neighbours.

I convey the profound condolences of the World Council of Churches to the family and friends of the late Mr Rabin, and to the nation of Israel which mourns the loss of its leader.

Statement on the bombings in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv

Issued by the Rev. Dr. Wesley Ariarajah, Acting General Secretary, 5 March 1996.

With deep compassion, the World Council of Churches conveys its condolences to the surviving victims and to the families of those who lost their lives in the recent series of bombings in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Such acts of indiscriminate violence are universally to be condemned. They have no justification in any political ideology, for they constitute a violation of the very ethical basis of political action. They are repugnant to every manifestation of Abrahamic faith, Christian, Jewish and Muslim alike, for they betray the God of love and mercy, and God's laws and commandments.

We appeal to all who are caught up in the pain and passion of this moment not to give themselves over to the logic of the perpetrators of such violence. History shows all too clearly that the way of violence blinds the peoples to God's will that they deal justly and with mercy with one another, and that they pursue the righteous vision of peace.

Without peace, there can only be continued insecurity. Without a will to achieve peace, the pursuit of justice is without meaning.

Certainly, the time has come when the victims of violence on all sides must join hands both to condemn, and also to overcome that which denies them the security all seek.

We are deeply aware of the nearly impossible burdens borne by both Palestinian and Israeli political leaders at every level. The time has come when they too must learn to shoulder the load together. Neither side alone can find a way out of the present impasse, for it is a product of shared history.

We know too that the continuing crisis in the Middle East involves peoples, and political and other powers well beyond the region. They must not abandon their responsibilities to the peoples of Palestine and Israel, but renew their efforts to help construct a future free of bloodshed.

The WCC recommits itself to work incessantly with Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders and their faithful, trusting always in the will of God that all may enjoy the peace which only God can provide.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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