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A Christmas Plea to Neighbors

One of our members shared this powerful letter he sent to family, friends and neighbors at Christmas. How many of us have the courage to send the same or a similar letter to those we know well? This is the kind of outreach that can make a difference.

Dear Family, Friends and Neighbors,

Bethlehem is desolate this Christmas. Its people mourn the twenty thousand Palestinian Christians and Muslims killed by Israel since October 7. The atrocities continue.

Like many of you, I am deeply distressed by the horrors taking place in Israel-Palestine. Hamas’ heinous attacks in October are unforgivable and inexcusable. But it is essential to understand that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict did not begin on October 7, 2023, as some Israelis and Americans would have us believe. Nor did the conflict begin in 1987 when Hamas was created. The conflict began in the early 20th century and escalated periodically, especially in 1967 when Israel invaded, occupied, and began settling the West Bank and Gaza.

We are not Israelis or Palestinians, however. We are Americans and major players in the Near East tragedy. You and I, voters and taxpayers, are not bystanders. With our arms, money and political support for Israel, we are unwillingly complicit in Israel’s violations of human rights and international law. I am ashamed.

I believe that you would not support President Biden’s decision to continue supplying weapons and money to Israel. I believe that you disagree with his decisions to oppose a ceasefire and to protect Israel from justly deserved international censure.

Pope Francis and most Protestant denominations have taken strong stands against Israeli mistreatment of Palestinian Muslims and Christians. Many of our pastors pray for peace but are reluctant to do more. Be that as it may, with few exceptions, political leaders play little attention to denominations and bishops. (They don’t listen to diplomats and experts either.)

But politicians do pay attention to voters and donors, especially when voters communicate directly. We are not helpless. We have a voice. The Constitution affirms, “the right of the people to petition our government for redress of grievances.”

We can Google Congress.Govand from their websites learn where our senators and representatives stand on U.S. Near East policy. Their websites also include contact information. I have called the White House and written to the President and to my representative and senators. I urge you to express your concerns as well.

I sometimes hear people say, “The situation is complicated. I don’t know enough about it.” This is understandable. Pro-Israel media report the violence but do very little to explain its causes. As result, many Americans feel reluctant to speak up. But one does not need to be a historian to know that Israel should stop attacking the people of Gaza and the West Bank.

By all means, Pray for Peace. But also work for a Just Peace in the Near East.

Thankful for the Blessings I have received, and wishing for a brighter future for all of us, I am

Your brother, uncle, cousin, son-in-law, neighbor, friend.

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