Christian Left rejects Hamas boycott

Leaders in Europe and the US back calls by church heads in J'lem to aid Hamas.

By GEORGE CONGER
April 14, 2006 02:17
2 minute read.
gaza food 298.88

gaza food 298.88. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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Leaders of the Christian left in Europe and the US are backing calls by the patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem for the EU and the US to resume aid to Hamas. On April 11, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches [WCC] , Dr. Samuel Kobia, wrote to the chairman of the Council of the European Union, Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, asking the EU to exercise "respect for the democratic mandate given" to Hamas and to allow "time for the new government to find its feet and demonstrate its intentions." The WCC warned of "of increasing suffering and new dangers to peace ahead" as a consequence of "decisions being taken these very days by the EU and other members of the Quartet." At its April 10-11 meeting in Luxembourg, the EU Council confirmed that it was "reviewing its assistance to the Palestinians" because of Hamas's failure to commit itself to "non-violence, recognition of Israel's right to exist and acceptance of existing agreements." The head of America's Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold, released an Easter letter on April 13 warning that "an impending humanitarian tragedy is unfolding" in Palestine. In a "plea to both the relevant government bodies of the world and to our church membership," Griswold asked that "all necessary aid be made available through non-government and, where possible, through government structures" to the Palestinians. Griswold chided US and EU policy of withdrawing from working with Hamas, saying, "Unilateral action does not lead to reconciliation" and that a "breakdown of the infrastructure of Palestinian society at this moment can only lead to further chaos, lawlessness and deep suffering." The letters of support followed lobbying by Palestinian Christian leaders of their Western counterparts. On Wednesday, the patriarchs and heads of the Christian churches of Jerusalem released an Easter letter stating that it was "not permitted to boycott a people on whom oppressions and injustices were and are imposed." The "international community" had failed to "put an end to these oppressions," which had led to "violence, terrorism and the humiliation of the human person." Instead of boycotting Hamas, the church leaders asked the "international community to seize the opportunity of this phase in history of the conflict in order to try seriously to put an end to the suffering of our land and of all its inhabitants." While Hamas's response to the Christian left's call for support is unknown, in a radio interview broadcast on April 6, the No. 2 man on its parliamentary list, Muhammad Abu Tir, argued that the Episcopal Church was secretly controlled by Jews. "Even the churches where the Americans pray are led by Jews who were converted to Christianity, but they were converted to keep controlling the Americans," Abu Tir told syndicated radio host Rusty Humphries. "I made a study and I know very well that all this radicalism in some parts of the Christianity, [including] the Anglicans who are being led by Bush, is because of the control of Zionists," Abu Tir concluded.

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