I sent the following letter to The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister; The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mr. John Maloney, Member of Parliament.
Dear Messrs. Harper, MacKay, and Maloney,
I am writing to denounce the current escalation in conflict and violence in Israel, the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. I am saddened by the loss of life and the suffering this violence has caused and continues to cause for so many people and communities. I am also disappointed and grieved by the harm that has come to any hope for peace in the region.
The history of the troubles in the Holy Land has taught us, only too clearly, that violence does not bring peace. In the face of what would seem obvious it seems that the parties involved deliberately fail to learn this lesson. In this situation talk of "appropriate means" and criticism of "disproportionate responses" are simply inadequate. In order to keep the situation from spiraling out of control, there needs to be a clear rejection of all violence as a means of securing peace, together with a genuine commitment to justice for all people of the Holy Land.
I pray that those who so easily turn to violence as a response to violence will be led to the path of peace. I pray that no more Israelis or Arabs will have to die in the name of violent and exclusivist ideologies. I pray that "the things that make for peace" will be learned, that the Holy Land will become a land of peace and an inspiration to the rest of the world. I pray for those in that region who witness for peace and who provide relief and support to communities affected by the current situation to find their work enabled and supported and their witness amplified against the louder noise of war.
I urge our government and our nation to join others in the international community, perhaps to show leadership in the international community, and move beyond platitudes and do what is necessary to calm the violence, to restore hope, and to push forward towards peace and justice. There is no hope to be found in violence, only a deadly cycle that spirals into more violence. The violence must cease. Fundamental justices must be redressed, if peace is to be more than just a word. It is past time for the international community to be clear, resolute, and unconditional in this message. Previous efforts to promote peace in the Middle East--the Oslo Accords and the "Road Map" alike-- have been mortally wounded by the continued resort to violence and by the failure to redress obvious injustice. A different approach to peace in the Holy Land is required, in which justice is at the heart. If we as Canadians and members of the international community do not insist on justice as a basis for peace, we will be complicit in the inevitable perpetuation of conflict.
Please, let us not stand idly by half a world away as sisters and brothers in our one humanity continue to suffer and die.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Thomas P. Arth