Ecumenical News International

Johannes Friedrich: "Stop building settlements for the sake of peace"

June 04, 2012

To mark the end of the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel, the chair of the Protestant Middle East Commission (EMOK), Dr. Johannes Friedrich, stressed the need to express justified criticism of the policies of the State of Israel. At the same time, he warned against blaming Jews living in Germany for the wrong policy of the Israeli government. The former Lutheran bishop of Bavaria is a member of the EKD Council with particular responsibility for Middle East issues.

Speaking in Bavaria, Friedrich called it scandalous that Christians had not sought community with Jews over the centuries. "Even today anti-Israeli criticism often goes with an anti-Semitic attitude that turns victims - and Jews were victims for centuries - generally into perpetrator," Friedrich recalled. "However, a critical judgment of Israeli government policy is necessary time and again, unfortunately." In this context he praised the statements made by Federal President Joachim Gauck during his visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories: "The President left no doubt about the loyalty we Germans have to Israel's right to exist and the security of Israeli citizens. But he also raised clear questions about the erection of the wall and settlement policy. And he made it clear that the fate of Palestinians living and suffering under Israeli occupation cannot leave us cold." Friedrich added that we, as Christians, could support such criticism of Israeli settlement policy, and expect that Israel would stop building more settlements "for the sake of peace".

Friedrich referred to the message issued by the World Council of Churches (WCC) to mark the annual action week. "It is time for Palestinians and Israelis to share a just peace; it is time for freedom from occupation (.) it is time for the healing of wounded souls." He underlined its reminder: "The dream of one nation cannot be realized at the expense of another."

The EMOK represents 35 churches, missions, aid agencies and Christian organizations that maintain relations with the Middle East. It fosters cooperation and exchange among its members and with the Christians, churches and partners in the Middle East. In particular, it promotes cooperation on issues of Christian-Jewish and Christian-Islamic dialogue and follows political and social events in the region. EMOK advises the EKD Council and EKD member churches.



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