STATEMENT FROM UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST AND DISCIPLES OF CHRIST

October 17, 2000
[By way of Martin Bailey and John Worrel]

"What does the Lord require of you?  To  seek  justice,  to  love
kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)

On October 4 in Jerusalem, the  Common  Global  Ministries  Board
(CGMB) of the  United  Church  of  Christ  and  Christian  Church
(Disciples of Christ) co-executives, Dr. Dale Bishop and the Rev.
Patricia  Tucker  Spier,  presented  the  CGMB's  1999  Award  of
Affirmation to the Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, a Palestinian  Christian.
As the founder and director of the Sabeel  Ecumenical  Liberation
Theology Center in Jerusalem, the Rev. Ateek has consistently and
persistently called for "justice, and only justice" in resolution
of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This call is as appropriate,
and urgent, now as it has ever been.

Tension and violence has escalated over the past two weeks to the
extent that an emergency summit is taking place  today  in  Sharm
al-Shaikh, Egypt. Levels of crisis have reached heights unseen in
several years, provoked by Likud leader Ariel Sharon's  visit  to
the Al-Aqsa mosque area on September 28. Palestinian reaction  to
the visit, called intifada of Al-Aqsa, has been one of anger  and
frustration, a marked contrast to the  1987  intifada  which  was
full of hope that the Israeli occupation would finally be "thrown
off." This time, events could more accurately be described  as  a
war between two unequal  forces:  a  powerful  and  sophisticated
Israeli military, and the largely unarmed  Palestinian  populace.
Even so, the tragedy of the last two weeks is  that,  while  more
than 90 of the 100 people killed so  far  are  Palestinian,  each
death represents the ultimate loss for a family and a community.

As President Arafat and Prime Minister Barak meet with Presidents
Mubarak and Clinton, with King Abdullah II, and with UN Secretary
General Kofi Annan, tensions  remain  high  and  hopes  are  low.
Demonstrations and clashes continue in opposition to  the  summit
meeting. While the U.S. has taken a lead role  in  convening  the
summit, it has  done  little  so  far  to  pressure  the  Israeli
government to acknowledge responsibility for the continuation and
perpetration of unjustified control over the  Palestinian  people
and occupation of Palestinian lands.

While international attention is focused upon these negotiations,
a deeper concern is for the children who live in such  a  violent
situation: children who  are  unable  to  go  to  school  because
schools are closed for security reasons; children  who  feel  the
stress from which their parents attempt to shield them;  children
who begin to sense that their parents may not be  able  to  offer
them the security that only parents can offer; children caught in
the violent daily exchanges between adversaries.

In the midst of crisis, it is  the  Church's  responsibility  and
vocation to advocate on behalf of  the  voiceless.  Thus,  we  as
leaders of the United Church of Christ and the  Christian  Church
(Disciples of Christ):

* condemn the acts of violence and  aggression  committed  during
the current crisis, recognizing that Israel has at its  disposal,
and has employed, a preponderance of military capability;

* call upon the Palestinian and Israeli leadership to be bold  in
assuming responsibility for the escalation of violence, and to do
all in their power to end it;

* cautiously commend the result of  the  Sharm  al-Shaikh  summit
meeting, but call upon all parties involved to join in a  renewed
commitment to resume negotiations aiming for a just  and  lasting
peace with resolution of the outstanding  issues  of  Jerusalem's
final status, the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state,
and the rights of Palestinians for self-determination and of both
peoples for security;

* affirm the right of the Palestinians and the Israelis  to  live
within secure and recognized borders, according to UN resolutions
and international law.

* urge the  U.S.  administration  to  strive  to  embody  a  more
balanced stance so that it may demonstrate true leadership in the
role it aspires to play.

The two churches also commit to offer prayers for

* Palestinian Christian sisters  and  brothers,  especially  CGMB
partners, who are often forgotten when events  are  portrayed  in
terms of the conflict between Judaism and Islam

* the people of the two nations (Israel and  Palestine)  and  the
three faiths (Judaism,  Christianity,  and  Islam)  who  live  in
uncertainty every day, but who continue to maintain a hope for  a
day when there is a just resolution; and for their  leaders  that
they may be guided in wisdom to seek that just resolution; and

* missionaries serving in Israel/Palestine,  especially  UCC  and
Disciples appointees Marla Schrader and Dale and Betty Schwicker.

As Rev. Ateek closes his book, Justice and Only  Justice,  so  we
are reminded of our responsibility: "The challenge to Palestinian
Christians, and indeed to all Palestinians and to all  people  in
this conflict in Israel-Palestine, is: do  not  destroy  yourself
with hate; maintain your inner freedom; insist on  justice,  work
for it, and it shall be yours."
 
 

The Rev. John Thomas          The Rev. Richard Hamm
General Minister and President   General Minister and President
United Church of Christ    Christian Church (Disciples of
                                   Christ)
 

Dr. Dale Bishop     The Rev. Patricia Tucker Spier
Executive Minister,     President,
Wider Church Ministries           Division of Overseas Ministries
United Church of Christ    Christian Church (Disciples of
Co-Executive                       Christ)
Common Global Ministries Board     Co-Executive,
                                   Common Global Ministries Board