The World Evangelical Alliance has urged the international community to make all possible efforts to end the “complex” conflict in Gaza and southern Israel and expressed sympathy for all its victims.
“The God who is near wants to bless the Jewish people but not at the expense of the Arab people and He wants to bless the Arab people but not at the expense of the Jewish people,” declared the Rev Dr Geoff Tunnicliffe, international director of the World Evangelical Alliance.
The statement, released over the weekend as the Israeli military action in the Gaza strip entered its second week, was also signed by the WEA ambassador to region, the Rev Harry Tees.
It emphasized that the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), whose member bodies claim to number more than 400 million evangelical Christians worldwide, represents both Christians in Israel and Palestinian Gaza.
“We pray for those who have lost loved ones as well as those who have caused lives to be lost,” Tunnicliffe said in his effort to embrace all sides involved in the bitter and emotional conflict.
“We know that the God who heals and forgives longs to restore and rebuild the broken-hearted,” he said.
Tunnicliffe joined other church and faith leaders with an appeal to diplomats and politicians worldwide to do their “utmost to end all hostilities and consequent violence” in Gaza.
“We also call upon the international community to carefully but resolutely respond to the crisis,” the WEA international director said. “The feelings on the ground are highly sensitive; it is not a time to blame but to respond with concern for all who are undergoing trauma.”
He acknowledged that it may be hard to imagine a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict given its complexity, but “we dare to dream together of a Middle East where Jews and Arabs are able to enjoy life side by side in peace.”
Observers note that the WEA statement stands in stark contrast to the partisan pro-Israeli messages that have been coming out of many sections of the evangelical churches in the United States.
It will be seen as another attempt by the movement to realign itself around humanitarian and bipartisan concerns while holding to scriptural principles.
Unremitting ‘Christian Zionism’ has been an article of faith for many hardline evangelicals over the years, but the voices of progressives and moderates within the movement have been getting stronger in recent years – and may receive a further boost, nationally and globally, when Barack Obama reaches the White House.