October 23, 2001

TO: CMEP Email Network
From: Corinne Whitlatch

RE: Action alert and message from Patriarchs and Heads of Jerusalem Churches

Today's newspapers report that the Bush administration condemned, in an "unusually tough message," the Israeli military incursion into Palestinian controlled towns in the West Bank.  The Washington Post article begins, "By harshly denouncing the actions of one of its closest allies, the United States yesterday implicitly acknowledged that its traditional alliance with Israel could gravely complicate its new war on terrorism."  To offset the considerable criticism the Administration will receive, your message to the Administration should include appreciation for their condemnation of Israel's West Bank incursion.

Mark Brown, representative to CMEP from the ELCA, prepared this action alert based on first-hand reports from the Palestinian Lutheran community in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour.  The need for international observers was a topic of the September CMEP newsletter and the September 18 email message to you.

ACTION ALERT:  Violence in Occupied Territories Escalates; Observers Needed

October 20, 2001

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

Heavy exchanges of gunfire between Israelis and Palestinians continued through much of the day yesterday in Bethlehem, Beit Sahour, and Beit Jala.  Your assistance is needed to help end the cycle of violence and promote a climate where negotiations to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict can take place.

Please read the October 19 appeal from the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem (pasted in below) concerning the escalation of violence in Bethlehem and many locations throughout the West Bank.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

1)  Call or e-mail President Bush and Vice President Cheney as soon as possible.  Ask the White House to support the deployment of multinational observers to promote peace, justice and security in the Occupied Territories. These observers should be charged with monitoring and reporting on Israeli and Palestinian compliance with human rights and international humanitarian law standards. Observers should be deployed in all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip under a framework agreed upon by Israel and the Palestinian Authority.  Express your appreciation for the Administration's support for a viable Palestinian state.

>>>The White House call-in line is 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414.  The e-mail address for President George W. Bush is president@whitehouse.gov and the e-mail address for Vice President Dick Cheney is vice.president@whitehouse.gov.

2)  Ask your Members of Congress to call on the Bush Administration to support the deployment of multinational observers and other confidence building measures that will help to break the cycle of violence.  Ask your Members of Congress to back the Administration's support for the creation of a viable Palestinian state as part of a peace agreement with Israel. (See the Web site of the Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs, www.loga.org, for information on the need for international observers.)

>>>The U.S. Capitol Switchboard is 202-224-3121.

3)  Urge the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to do all that they can to end all forms of violence and intimidation, including helicopter, tank, and fighter jet attacks, assassinations, mortar attacks, suicide bombings, house demolitions, destruction of trees and other property, and torture while in detention.  Ask both parties to support the deployment of international observers.  Insist that the premises of religious, educational, medical and other humanitarian institutions be respected.  Let churches, mosques, and synagogues be sanctuaries of peace, not armed strongholds of any side.

>>>Contact the Government of Israel by sending an e-mail to interreligious issues staff at comp@israelemb.org or to the general e-mail address for information requests at ask@israelemb.org, or by phoning 202-364-5500.

>>>Contact the Washington office of the Palestinian National Authority by phoning 202-785-8394.

Thank you for your help.

Please sign up your congregation as a participant in the Prayer Vigil for Middle East Peace.

Mark B. Brown
International Affairs and Human Rights
Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs
Washington, DC

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APPEAL FROM JERUSALEM ON BEHALF OF BETHLEHEM

WE THE PATRIARCHS AND THE HEADS  OF CHURCHES IN JERUSALEM

Appeal to our Brothers and Sisters around the world to help in a time of urgent need in the Holy Land.

Following the targeted killings, there has been a dramatic intervention, within the last few hours, in the Autonomous Palestinian Territories by the Israeli Armed Forces. Tanks are everywhere; buildings have been sieged; some areas are under curfew and there is extensive shooting.

We are particularly concerned about Bethlehem (the place of our Savior's Birth) with Beit Jala and Beit Sahour, Aida Refugee Camp, AI-Bireh, Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus and Gaza. The restrictions on movement preventing people going to work, attending school and even university, mean that Charitable Institutions, Hospitals etc.  are placed under great strain to care for residents and patients. Children everywhere are being traumatized.

At a time when Western leaders are concerned with fighting terrorism it seems that Palestinian residents (both Moslem and Christian) are subjected to similar acts for which the world takes little notice.

Whilst we deplore all acts of violence, we appeal to World Church Leaders and the International Community to make urgent representation to the Israeli Government to bring this intolerable situation to an immediate end and begin the process of negotiations in order to work towards a peaceful and a just solution.

Jerusalem                    October 19

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Corinne Whitlatch, Director
Churches for Middle East Peace
110 Maryland Ave. NE, #108
Washington, DC 20002
202/546-8425; fax 202/543-7532
www.cmep.org