As the PCUSA develops peacemaking policy regarding the Middle East, it must employ the clear-headed approach for which Calvinists have been known for generations. We cannot be seduced by rosy scenarios that suggest relatively easy solutions to very tough complicated problems. The problems facing both the Israelis and Palestinians are real and tough. Boycotts or use of military force will not make the problems go away. Indeed, they will only intensify them.
As an example of the thorny obstacles that threaten to derail peace in the Middle East, December, 2011 witnessed massive celebrations in Gaza by Hamas to celebrate its 24th anniversary. The comments and actions by Hamas’ leaders once again called for violence and the destruction of Israel. Hamas boasted that it has killed 1,365 Israelis in over 1,117 attacks (including 87 suicide bombings), and launched 11,093 rockets at Israeli targets. Ismail Haniyeh, the top Hamas leader in Gaza, stated: “The armed resistance and the armed struggle are our only choice to liberate the land, to liberate all of Palestine from the sea to the river and expel the invaders.” The rally in Gaza was attended by school children dressed in military uniforms and carrying fake rockets and rifles. The actions and rhetoric of Hamas stand in sharp contrast to the very concrete peacemaking actions taking place on the West Bank under the leadership of Salam Fayyad, Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority.
If the PCUSA is to be an effective peacemaker, it must support responsible voices and parties in both Israel and Palestine while rejecting calls for actions against either party that will only increase tension in the area. Therefore, PFMEP prays for an end to Hamas’ intent to eradicate Israel from the face of the earth; an end to new settlement construction by Israel; and for all parties to return to the negotiating table. Seemingly intractable conflicts in places from Northern Ireland to Serbia-Croatia-Slovenia have been resolved with negotiations. It is not too late for this to happen in Israel and Palestine.