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Statement of the
Justice and Peace Commission
Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land

11 Jul 2014

Call for a Courageous Change

“A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more” (Jeremiah 31:15).

A reality of violence and mourning

Israel and Palestine are echoing with the cry of mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, loved ones of the young people who have fallen victim to the latest round in the cycle of violence that plagues this land. Some of their faces are well known because the media have covered in detail their lives, interviewing their parents, bringing them alive in our imaginations, whereas others — by far more numerous — are mere statistics, nameless and faceless. The selective coverage, mourning and memory are themselves part of the cycle of violence.

We offer our sincere condolences to all those in mourning, Israelis and Palestinians. We must continue to pray that those that have fallen recently will be the last to die violent deaths in this escalation of hatred and vengeance.

A language that breeds violence

“The tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. (…) With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God (James 3:5-6. 9).

Our hope to bring the cycle of violence to an end is shattered by the irresponsible language of collective punishment and revenge that breeds violence and suffocates the emergence of any alternative. Many in positions of power and political leadership remain entrenched, not only unwilling to enter into any real and meaningful process of dialogue but also pouring oil on the fire with words and acts that nurture the conflict.

The violent language of the street in Israel that calls for vengeance is fed by the attitudes and expressions of a leadership that continues to foster a discriminatory discourse promoting exclusive rights of one group and the occupation with all of its disastrous consequences.

Settlements are built, lands are confiscated, families are separated, loved ones are arrested and even assassinated. The occupation leadership seems to believe that the occupation can be victorious by crushing the will of the people for freedom and dignity. They seem to believe that their determination will ultimately silence opposition and transform wrong into right.

The violent language of the Palestinian street that calls for vengeance is fed by the attitudes and expressions of those who have despaired of any hope to reach a just solution to the conflict through negotiations. Those who seek to build a totalitarian, monolithic society, in which there is no room for any difference or diversity, gain popular support, exploiting this situation of hopelessness. To these we also say: Violence as a response to violence breeds only more violence.

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