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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada’s largest Lutheran denomination with 182,077 baptized members in 624 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches, and the World Council of Churches.

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A NEWS RELEASE
From Lutheran World Information (LWI)

MIDDLE EAST: ONLY EXTREMISM WILL BENEFIT
FROM CONTINUATION OF VIOLENCE;
LWF GENERAL SECRETARY NOKO DENOUNCES
CURRENT GRAVE ESCALATION OF CONFLICT



GENEVA, 18 July 2006 (LWI)--The General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko, has denounced the current grave escalation of conflict in Israel, the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. There needs to be a clear rejection of all violence as a means of securing peace, together with a genuine commitment to justice for all the people of the Holy Land, in order to forestall the accelerating spiral of violence, Noko urges in a statement, issued on Tuesday, 18 July.

"If there is one lesson that the troubled history of the Holy Land teaches us, it is that violence does not bring peace," Noko says. Only extremism will benefit from the continuation of the violence. In the face of so much experience of the cyclical nature of violence, the failure to learn the lesson of peace seems deliberate. In this situation, talk of "appropriate means" and criticism of "disproportionate responses" are simply inadequate.

Noko calls on the international community to finally move beyond platitudes, to doing what is necessary to calm the violence, restore hope, and push forward toward peace with justice. There is no hope, and no reason, in the deadly cycle of violence, he says. The violence, by whomsoever committed and with whatsoever proclaimed justifications, must cease. If peace is to be more than just a word, fundamental injustices must be redressed. It is past time for the international community to be clear, resolute and unconditional in this message.

According to Noko, a different approach to peace in the Holy Land is required, in which justice is at the heart. If the members of the international community do not insist on justice as a basis for peace, they will be complicit in the inevitable perpetuation of conflict, he concludes.

The full text of the statement on the situation in the Middle East by LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko, follows:

Statement by Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko
General Secretary, The Lutheran World Federation
Geneva, 18 July 2006

I join all those who have raised their voices to denounce the current grave escalation in conflict in Israel, the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. I lament the loss of life and the suffering that this violence has visited upon so many people, and its impacts on whole communities. And I grieve for the severe injury that these events have inflicted on hopes for a revival of the peace process in the region. Extremism, and only extremism, will benefit from the continuation of the violence.

If there is one lesson that the troubled history of the Holy Land teaches us, it is that violence does not bring peace. But in the face of so much experience of the cyclical nature of violence, the failure to learn the lesson of peace seems deliberate. In this situation, talk of "appropriate means" and criticism of "disproportionate responses" are simply inadequate. In order to forestall the accelerating spiral of violence, there needs to be a clear rejection of all violence as a means of securing peace, together with a genuine commitment to justice for all the people of the Holy Land.

I pray that all those for whom violence is the instinctive response to violence will be led to the path of peace. I pray that no more sons and daughters of Abraham, whether Israeli or Arab, will have to die in the name of violent and exclusivist ideologies. I pray that "the things that make for peace" will yet be learned, that the Holy Land will yet become a land of peace and an inspiration to the world. I pray especially for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and the other Christian churches in the region, that their witness for peace will be amplified against the louder drumbeats of war. And I pray that all those * including the staff of the LWF's field program in Jerusalem * who are engaged in providing relief and support to communities affected by the current situation will find that their essential work is enabled and supported as it should be.

Faced with the current crisis, the international community must finally move beyond platitudes, to doing what is necessary to calm the violence, to restore hope, and to push forward towards peace with justice. There is no hope, and no reason, in the deadly cycle of violence. The violence, by whomsoever committed and with whatsoever proclaimed justifications, must cease. Fundamental injustices must be redressed, if peace is to be more than just a word. It is past time for the international community to be clear, resolute and unconditional in this message. The international community's efforts to promote peace in the Middle East * the Oslo Accords and the "Road Map" alike * have been mortally wounded by the continued resort to violence and by the failure to redress obvious injustice. A different approach to peace in the Holy Land is required, in which justice is at the heart. If the members of the international community do not insist on justice as a basis for peace, they will be complicit in the inevitable perpetuation of conflict.

The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden, the LWF currently has 140 member churches in 78 countries all over the world, with a total membership of 66.2 million. The LWF acts on behalf of its member churches in areas of common interest such as ecumenical and inter-faith relations, theology, humanitarian assistance, human rights, communication, and the various aspects of mission and development work. Its secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland.

[Lutheran World Information (LWI) is the LWF's information service. Unless specifically noted, material presented does not represent positions or opinions of the LWF or of its various units. Where the dateline of an article contains the notation (LWI), the material may be freely reproduced with acknowledgment.]

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