November 6, 2000

U.S., OTHERS MUST HELP ENABLE PEACE,
SAYS JERUSALEM LUTHERAN BISHOP


     LOS ANGELES (ELCA) -- The United States and European Union
countries should act "to put pressure on Israel and take further
tangible measures" to protect Palestinians and find sustainable
solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said the Rev. Munib A.
Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan (and
Palestine). Younan, who spoke to a conference here on multicultural
concerns in the church, called for American Christians to support the
Christian church in the Middle East, and he outlined a vision for a
"just" peace in the region.
     Younan was a keynote presenter at the Multicultural Mission
Institute, Nov. 5-7.  The annual conference is sponsored by the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) through its Commission
for Multicultural Ministries.
     Younan represents a 2,000-member church that consists of
Lutheran congregations in Amman, Jordan, as well as in East
Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour and Ramallah.  He is a
Palestinian who has been an outspoken supporter for the concept of a
"shared" Jerusalem, involving Christians, Jews and Muslims.
     Younan said he is "happy" the United States is trying to
promote peace in the Middle East, however, he said the U.S.
government must become an "honest broker" and help the parties find a
"win-win solution."
     "We need immediate actions to put an end to the atrocities and
confrontation," Younan said of the present hostilities between
Israelis and Palestinians. "We need your (U.S.) government's
intervention with the other European Union governments and mediators,
so that dialogue and only dialogue will succeed to implement a
comprehensive lasting, just peace in the Middle East."
     The present Israeli government is becoming more "rightist and
radical" and is addressing the current conflict with "a military
security perspective rather than a political security perspective,"
Younan said.   Israeli security forces have used rubber-coated steel
bullets, rockets, tanks, helicopters and other weapons against the
Palestinian people, resulting in the deaths of at least 144
Palestinians, he said.  Some 5,000 Palestinians have been injured
since the current fighting began Sept. 28, Younan said.
     "The reality is that the Israeli army is attacking unarmed
Palestinian civilians with deadly accuracy," he added.
     Younan thanked partners of Palestinians who have spoken against
the violence, including the ELCA Conference of Bishops.  On Oct. 12,
the Rev. H. George Anderson, ELCA presiding bishop, wrote to
President Clinton on behalf of the bishops, encouraging Clinton to
continue his efforts to halt the violence in Israel and "forge a just
and comprehensive peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians."
The ELCA bishops also said the excessive use of lethal force by the
Israeli military and their use of tanks and helicopters has helped
escalate the conflict.
     Younan focused much of his 75-minute speech on the biblical
concept of "Jubilee" as the basis for churches -- including his
own -- to focus on peace and reconciliation for the region.  According to
the Bible, a Jubilee year occurs every 50 years.  It calls for
release from bondage, redistribution of land and wealth, and renewal
of the earth.  2000 is a Jubilee year, in which Christians worldwide
are called "to offer the Christianity of the cross, which is
sacrificial, imbued with love, forgiveness, freedom and
reconciliation," he said.
     Jubilee's theology can guide Arab countries and Israel to an
equitable solution, he said.  Younan also argued that Israeli-
Palestinian conflict is not a religious conflict, but a conflict over
land.  "The principle of 'land for peace' is a noble one and can
justly settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Younan said.
     There cannot be a peaceful solution for the Middle East without
a just peace in Jerusalem and for Jerusalem, he added, emphasizing it
must be a place for Christians, Jews and Muslims.
     Younan outlined many concerns of the Palestinian Christian
church.  Peace education is high on the church's agenda, he said.
The Jerusalem church is called to be a catalyst of peace education,
and now is the "kairos" of reconciliation, Younan said.  Peace
education and reconciliation must begin now, not when "politicians
sign peace treaties," he added.
     "Peace education will liberate the Israeli child from the fear
of thinking that their security is in arms, to an understanding that
Israeli security is in a liberated Palestinian neighbor.  The
Palestinian child must be liberated from fear, oppression and
occupation to discover that Palestinian security is in a liberated
Israeli neighbor.  This peace education helps both to see God in the
other, to accept the 'otherness' of the other and to recognize each
other's human, civil, political and religious rights," he said.
     "When we arrive in heaven, God will not ask the Israeli or
Palestinian, the Jew, the Christian or the Muslim, 'How much did you
consolidate your own community?' 'How much were you extremist and
fanatic?'  Rather, God will ask, 'How much did you promote justice
and peace toward the other who was or is the enemy?'"
     Younan said other concerns of the Palestinian church are the
emigration of Christians from the Middle East; education for
Palestinian children; ecumenical relationships among all Christian
churches in the Middle East; Christian-Muslim relations, which are
"quite healthy," he said; and Christian-Jewish relations, which need
"a lot of intensive work and investment."
     "You are our ambassadors and our partners," Younan told the
audience. "Be our support in every good deed of love and witness for
the sake of Christ.  Do not leave us alone.  Help us continue our
ministry of love where God has called us to be in His land of the
resurrection.  Pray for us and be interested in our mission."
     "You belong to us, and we belong to you," he said. "Our mission
is yours, and yours is ours."

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or NEWS@ELCA.ORG