Comments: Archbishop of Canterbury speaks about Gaza

Although I applaud the AoC for speaking out about Gaza,(which seems all that the BBC is interested in as well), why is there no one shouting out from the roof tops about our Christian brothers and sisters being persecuted and murdered in Iraq and Syria. Do we have to wait till the ancient Christian presence in these countries is extinguished before someone says 'what a shame - if only!!. We have (can't remember how many) Bishops sitting in the House of Lords, when are these 'Leaders' going to open their mouths and give us a lead. Perhaps if Canon Andrew White ( Vicar in Baghdad ) had this opportunity then his would be the voice we would listen to. The only place I've seen his reports are on Cramners blog

Posted by Henry Dee at Thursday, 31 July 2014 at 2:11pm BST

Andrew White was on the Today programme last Saturday (c. 7:30am) talking about the plight of Christians in Iraq.

Posted by kennedy at Thursday, 31 July 2014 at 3:01pm BST

The Israel/Palestinian conflict has always been bigger news and considering all the mainline churches pounding on and publicly divesting from Israeli companies it's obviously more important to the church at large. I was also surprised that White's call was ignored by so many. Episcopal Relief is seeking aid for Gaza but not Iraq. Since I'm an American I'm not sure, does the CoE have a relief agency helping the Iraqi refugees? The relief agencies I found were secular or RC or Samaritan's Purse(founded by Billy Graham's son). I'll have to see if our diocese has info for contacting/helping Canon White directly.

Posted by Chris H at Thursday, 31 July 2014 at 3:46pm BST

While not always able to agree with the good Archbishop's perspectives on other matters, I appreciate his comments on Gaza immensely. Thought his video greeting at the end of the Muslim fast was constructive as well. As a Canadian I especially appreciate the ABC's comments as an international figure as our Conservative government here as not missed an opportunity with its bellicose one sided bully pulpit diplomacy to undermine and slam the United Nations at every turn, and undermine the efforts The U.S. and others have been attempting at obtaining a ceasefire. The Canadian Church has also been advocating for peace and on behalf of the civilian casualties in Gaza. Every international voice of reason and compassion is welcome and needs to be heard.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Thursday, 31 July 2014 at 4:12pm BST

At last he speaks! I think he is learning since the last ill-fated visit to Israel when a visit to the holocaust museum was a highlight and the Christians in beleaguered Bethlehem were ignored.

... and Henry Dee is right, let's hear something about the severely persecuted Christians in Iraq. The war in 2003 had disaster written all over it but Bush, Blair and most of the other politicians wouldn't listen.

It's time for Archbishop Welby to move onto these 'hard' issues rather than staying simply on the safe Wonga type ground.

Posted by Concerned Anglican at Thursday, 31 July 2014 at 5:51pm BST

If the Americans had any integrity, they would have forced Israel to come to a settlement years ago. Doctor Welby has spoken out, but not the Chief Rabbi!

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Thursday, 31 July 2014 at 10:54pm BST

Hearts breaking over all the earth. This ongoing and bitter conflict must be resolved, not just by the combatants but by all of us.

Posted by Pam at Thursday, 31 July 2014 at 11:14pm BST

Spare me the "But what abouts???" on this thread: Gaza is horrifying enough. [Ignoring the theological objections of the tendentious] Allah/YHWH/God-in-Christ, MERCY!

Posted by JCF at Friday, 1 August 2014 at 12:56am BST

Thank you Archbishop Justin for also raising your voice in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Iraq and the persecuted Christians of Mosul.

Posted by Father David at Friday, 1 August 2014 at 8:38am BST

The situation in Gaza is truly shocking, and no amount of tone-deaf whataboutery can detract from its horror. For those whose sympathies are dictated primarily by confessional allegiances I'd note that there is a small but ancient Palestinian Christian population in Gaza too - if that makes a difference to you.

But yes, let's not forget that this is not even the bloodiest war going on in the Near East at present. Muslims as well as Christians are being persecuted in Syria and Iraq, and mosques as well as churches and shrines are being destroyed. In such a climate it seems almost blasphemous to make neat distinctions between the Christian, the Jewish, and the Muslim dead.

Posted by rjb at Friday, 1 August 2014 at 11:26am BST

The easiest way to donate in the UK is through the Jerusalem and Middle East Church Association (JMECA):

They also accept donations through the Charities Aid Foundation.

The Al-Ahli Hospital will need our help to get through the aftermath of what has happened.

Posted by Peter at Friday, 1 August 2014 at 12:13pm BST

Gaza is horrifying enough, although some of the photos purporting to be from Gaza may actually be from Syria and Iraq.

Posted by Paul Powers at Friday, 1 August 2014 at 2:04pm BST

My husband visited the Al Ahli hospital in 2000; he has unbounded admiration for the courageous and devoted Suheila Tarazi, the director, and we very much hope that people here respond to the appeal.
Justine Greening's comments on Gaza indicate how the present appalling situation has arisen:
"Even before this most recent conflict Gaza faced enormous challenges. Unemployment is over 60% for young people, 57% of households are food insecure and 80% are reliant on aid. The UN has warned that Gaza will be 'un-liveable" by 2020. Restrictions on the movements of goods and people do tremendous damage to the economy and living standards of the people of Gaza."
These are the effects of the 7 year Israeli blockade.

Posted by Helen at Friday, 1 August 2014 at 9:17pm BST

Some excellent analysis and insights here from Colin Chapman, retired C of E priest and Middle East scholar:

Posted by SimonW at Saturday, 2 August 2014 at 3:32am BST

The news this morning that the US is giving Israel yet more money to improve its 'Iron Dome' missile defence system re- emphasises two points:
Israel's utter disproportionate response to the Hamas provocations, and the responsibility the US has to control its client state Israel which could not wage war without the enormous sums by which it is subsidised.

I am afraid that pious hand wringing by archbishops and others will achieve very little. Only the US has the power to bring this obscenity to an end, yet, unfortunately the inter-relationship between the Zionist lobby, right wing Christians and the political right is so strong that nothing can be done.

God help the Palestinians and the ordinary Israelis and God help us all when the whole thing blows apart completely.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Saturday, 2 August 2014 at 8:21am BST

So there we have it... the USA ( who have just imposed sanctions on Russia), supported an Arab Spring which has turned into a nightmare, are now concerned about Israeli actions as regarding innocent targets in Gaza..then they went and awarded them $250 million in extra military aid and after the vote in Congress there was a standing ovation!

Posted by Robert ian williams at Saturday, 2 August 2014 at 1:53pm BST

I don't object to the money for Iron Dome_ it is after all defensive- but what is deplorable is America's release of ammunition to Israel at a time when Israel has demonstrated a truly horrifying disregard for Palestinians' lives. Britain too, according to the Independent, has approved the export of arms and equipment used against the Palestinians.
The line from David Cameron is that all this started with Hama's firing rockets at Israel, a position which is both ignorant and intellectually lazy.

Posted by Helen at Saturday, 2 August 2014 at 2:05pm BST

'Israel's utter disproportionate response', Mr Ashby, what would a strictly proportionate response be: fire a few thousands missiles indiscriminately, as did Hamas?

As for quoting the Independent: their so-called reporting led them to publish a letter of Brian Eno to the US government on the first page. That's the extent of their interest in fact.

Posted by Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente at Saturday, 2 August 2014 at 6:57pm BST

Thank you Simon Colin Chapman's article is really helpful context.

Posted by stephen at Sunday, 3 August 2014 at 6:38am BST

However we should not forget, many Arabs, particularly Christians who prefer living under Israel. There are 12 Arab members of the Knesset, a supreme Court judge is an Arab and there is free education and superb health services for all Arab israelis.

So who on this blog would prefer to live under Israel rather than Hammas?

Posted by robert ian Willaims at Sunday, 3 August 2014 at 8:54am BST

Three cheers for the Bishop of Manchester on the Sunday programme encouraging the Government to offer sanctuary in this country to the displaced Christians of Mosul and Northern Iraq, as we did so for the Ugandan Asians so many decades ago.

Posted by Father David at Sunday, 3 August 2014 at 8:54am BST

I am afraid that Lorenzo's response to my post shows just how difficult it is have a serious conversation about this horrendous problem without taking up entrenched positions. There is so much history to this conflict and different histories too that it may well be too late for any kind of real settlement. One can only be glad that the Arab countries are so convulsed by their own internal wars that they are unable to intervene.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Sunday, 3 August 2014 at 9:14am BST

No, Richard, dismissing my question as not 'serious' simply won't do: what, in your eyes, would constitute an Israeli response that is not utterly disproportionate, as you put it?

Posted by Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente at Sunday, 3 August 2014 at 12:25pm BST

I'm not going to rise to your challenge, Lorenzo, precisely because I don't think that the way to discuss the terrible problems of the Middle East is through challenge and counter challenge, argument and counter argument. This is supposed to be a Christian blog, looking at things from an Anglican point of view. There are plenty of places where political views can and are subjected to the sort if discussion you want. Here we have to ask 'what is the Christian response to all this'. And actually I don't know the answer to that question.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Sunday, 3 August 2014 at 2:05pm BST

Robert, Arab Israelis live in Israel because that is where they were born and that is where their homes are. It isn't a matter of "preference" in the sense that you or I might use the term.
Your comment I'm afraid displays a terrible ignorance about the conditions under which Palestinians live. Even in Israel there is extensive discrimination: read Susan Nathan's "The Other Side of Israel. If you travelled round East Jerusalem, for example, you would see this clearly. Even our own government recognises the appalling effects of the Israeli blockade on Gazans. As for the West Bank, 60% is under direct military occupation, and if you want to know what that's like read the OCHA reports on the internet.
Its easy to ignore the effects of half a century of Israeli rule (and I include Gaza, still under occupation according to international law on account of the blockade) because it rarely hits the newspapers, but the information is readily available to anyone who wants to know.

Posted by Helen at Sunday, 3 August 2014 at 10:25pm BST

Neither do I know the answer, Richard, and you are probably right about the time and place for such debates. 'Proportionality,' however, as bandied about in various Christian discussions of the topic all over the net, is traditionally deemed one of the four aspects of a just war in traditional Christian theology.

Posted by Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente at Monday, 4 August 2014 at 2:30pm BST

I wonder whether focusing on the issue of Israel's response and its proportionality or otherwise isn't starting in the wrong place. It assumes that the starting point was the Hamas rockets. But they too were a response to actions by the Israelis.
Can Christians not agree that it is wrong to kill the innocent, by whatever means; that people should be free to pursue their daily lives free of oppression, and that we all have a duty of care. The international community long ago simply decided to apply sticking plaster to the Israeli/Palestine issue, and that has left the Palestinians in limbo_ living the kind of existence that we would not accept for ourselves. The issue of human rights is surely one that engages TA Christians (judging from other threads), but it is denial of their human rights which in large part fuels Palestinian support for Hamas. Focus on human rights helps us to see people as human beings, surely the beginnings of a Christian response.

Posted by Helen at Monday, 4 August 2014 at 10:19pm BST

'It is denial of their human rights "which in large part" fuels Palestinian support for Hamas.'

What about the other part? The part that indiscriminately fires rockets into Israel? (The only reason there are not large numbers of Israeli casualties is because they have an effective missile defence system.) The part that sites their missile launchers deliberately in civilian areas? The part that does not recognise Israel as an nation? The part that spends (presumably) a large part of the income/aid they have on building underground tunnels in to Israel?

Posted by Stephen Morgan at Thursday, 14 August 2014 at 5:19pm BST
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