November 9, 2009
Contact: Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East
Fair Witness Expresses Serious Concern About The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation
Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East ("Fair Witness") is seriously concerned about the content and tone of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation's ("HCEF") 11th International Conference, held at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., October 24, 2009.
"I thought this conference was going to be about helping Palestinian Christians," said Rev. Thomas Prinz, pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Leesburg, Virginia. "But the main theme was attacking Israel, blaming it for all the problems in the Middle East. The occasional moderate voice could not be heard for the otherwise constant one-sided accusations against Israel."
"There were times in the conference when calls for coexistence camouflaged attacks on the Jewish state," added Rev. Prinz. "One speaker talked about the path to peace with Jews, Christians and Muslims together in Jerusalem, singing praises to one God. It was superficially very appealing. But his call for a one-state solution was really just a call for the destruction of the Jewish state and a situation where Jews become the minority in an Arab Muslim land. That's not a path to peace."
"Accusations we heard of Israel's planned 'ethnic cleansing' in 1948 and Jewish 'triumphalism' that led to 'one of the most consistent and egregious human rights violations in history' were extreme and offensive and have no place in a Christian conference with a stated theme of 'Building Peace Through Faith and Dialogue,' says Rev. Dr. Scott Ickert, senior pastor of Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church, Arlington, VA.
"Too much of the conference appeared based on misinformation," added Sr. Ruth Lautt, O.P., Fair Witness National Director. "For example, one speaker claimed that Palestinians descended from the Philistines. The Philistines disappeared from history probably by the late fifth century B.C., but not later than the time of Alexander the Great. They have no known historical connection to modern Palestinians. Making up specious connections between Palestinian Arabs and a seafaring European people from the second millennium B.C. does not help resolve a conflict where two people -- Jews and Palestinians -- have legitimate claims to parts of the same land."
Fair Witness fails to see how the conference helped achieve HCEF's stated goals which include "Promot[ing] peace, justice, and reconciliation in the Holy Land . . ."
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