“Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare. It calls for the courage to say yes to encounter and no to conflict: yes to dialogue and no to violence; yes to negotiations and no to hostilities; yes to respect for agreements and no to acts of provocation; yes to sincerity and no to duplicity. All of this takes courage, it takes strength and tenacity.”
~Pope Francis, June 8, 2014
As the number of dead and wounded continues to rise in Gaza, Pax Christi USA calls for an immediate cease-fire by all parties in order to open the possibility for negotiations to end the senseless violence and address the underlying causes which fuel the decades-long tragedy in the Middle East.
Pax Christi USA mourns the loss of life on both sides of the conflict. We stand with all those who have been victimized by violence. Our hearts are broken over the death and destruction which only serves to terrorize hundreds of thousands of civilians in Gaza, those who call this relatively small piece of land home. We join with Pax Christi International members around the world in offering “our sincere condolences to all those in mourning and pray that those who have been killed will be the last to die violent deaths in this escalation of hatred and vengeance.”
As the violence escalates and broadens, we are witnessing, in some cases, the perishing of entire families, and the dismantling of what little infrastructure was still intact in the service of the basic human needs of the people who live in Gaza. The attack on Gaza has created a humanitarian disaster which is marked all the more tragic by the inability to provide the assistance needed because of the ongoing violence.
Pax Christi USA has been unequivocal in insisting that for peace to be possible, there must be an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, a dismantling of the barrier wall built on Palestinian land, and an end to the Gaza blockade. We have asserted that the policies of our own government have functioned to provide the support that enables the occupation and that we must continue to pressure our political leaders for a change in those policies. U.S. policy and aid must be tied to respect for human rights and the safeguards provided by international law for the human dignity of all. Even as the violence rages in Gaza, as U.S. citizens we have a responsibility to hold our own government accountable for its complicity in this conflict, as well as U.S. corporations which benefit from protecting the status quo.
We believe that even in tragedy lies hope. Our hope for the Palestinian and Israeli peoples is for a future built in recognition of their shared humanity, where the security of all is rooted in the practice of justice for all. Let this be the last of the bloodshed in this region which has suffered for so long. Let this tragedy awaken the consciences and loose the voices of the great majority of Israelis and Palestinians who yearn for peace. Let these be the last throes of the old hatreds and prejudices, and let the evil of this violence give way to the birth of a new day and a just peace for the Middle East.