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RE: Violence in Gaza & Israel
December 31, 2008

We are both disheartened and grieved by the latest episode of heightened strife, senseless destruction, bloodshed, and widespread suffering in the Israel/Palestine conflict. Once again, we are shown how vendetta, collective punishment, and desperate acts of indiscriminate violence do not move forward the cause of social justice and peace. Indeed, if ever a victory is declared, it will be a pyrrhic victory, coming at an unimaginably high cost of life, infrastructure and property. Moreover, the means by which a conflict is conducted fundamentally shape the type of resolution that is achieved post-bellum. And so we pray for all parties – Palestinian as well as Israeli – to halt hostilities and declare a truce so that medicine, food, water, and other essential forms of humanitarian aid can be brought to those in dire need while alternatives are sought for the calming of the violence and the eventual resolution of the conflict.

When humankind has advanced so impressively in technological and material terms, the persistence and primitive nature of violence as a mode of self-assertion and as a means to resolve conflict can only be seen as a shameful backwardness that continues to plague our progress. We urge all people to seek more humane ways to address injustice, oppression, grievance, and fear; more promising paths to societal transformation and to the security and well-being that all people naturally crave. A willingness to imagine the position from the other’s point of view and a readiness to treat the other as you would wish to be treated yourself are necessary first steps to realizing just and sustainable solutions.

May God’s mercy be with the victims of the current violence, destruction, and the deprivation of basic essentials. May we find the wisdom and strength in our hearts and traditions to better promote understanding, real justice, enduring peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation in Israel/Palestine and everywhere.

Timothy J. Gianotti, Ph.D.

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