THOSE people who seek peace between Israelis and Palestinians
should take time to listen to other points of view and make space
for God to help those of different faiths and cultures come
together, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the
United States, Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, said during a recent
visit to Jerusalem.
Dr Jefferts Schori was preaching in St George's Cathedral after
a week-long visit to the Holy Land as the head of an interfaith
delegation from the US.
She acknowledged that working for peace "requires vulnerability,
and a willingness to make space where God might enter and make
peace in us and in the world around us. Listening deeply to the
story another person tells is an essential and holy way of opening
Achieving this, she said, required "slowing down, sitting down
in patience, breathing deeply, and focusing our attention on
another rather than ourselves".
The 15-member delegation of Christians, Jews, and Muslims held
high-level meetings in Israel and the West Bank. Those they met
included the former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, and the
Palestinian Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah.
The group listened to "a wide range of perspectives on peace,
religion, and politics, and [shared] their own views about the role
the three Abrahamic faiths must play in helping to shape a better
world", the Episcopal News Service said.
Commenting on the visit, Dr Jefferts Schori said that the
delegation had "built bridges this week, and we're going to keep
travelling those bridges . . . until God's shalom and salaam and
Besides Dr Jefferts Schori, the group's co-leaders were the
President of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Rabbi Steve
Gutow, and the national director of interfaith and community
alliances for the Islamic Society of North America, Sayyid
Attempts to revive peace negotiations have failed to make
progress; so Palestinians have no choice but to carry on with daily
life as best they can. For those in the Gaza Strip, daily life is
still overshadowed by the effects of last summer's war with
The programmes manager for Palestine and Israel at Embrace the
Middle East, Stephen Tunstall, who has just returned from Gaza,
said that little of the $5.4 billion (£3.6 billion) pledged in
October for the reconstruction of Gaza appears to have reached the
territory. "Only a small proportion of the pledges have been
fulfilled," he said, "and the much-maligned UN-supported
reconstruction mechanism is yet to result in rebuilt homes.
"While houses stand in ruins, tens of thousands remain homeless.
Multiplied by the loss of jobs and government salaries, a
corresponding increase in crime and lawlessness, and shortages of
medical supplies and services, these are truly bleak days. Most
people are anticipating another conflict before long."
A new report on last year's conflict, Gaza 2014: Findings of
an independent medical fact-finding mission, published by a
Christian Aid partner, Physicians for Human Rights Israel
(PHR-Israel), alleges that large quantities of powerful explosives
were used indiscriminately by the Israeli military. The Israel
Defense Forces have denied such allegations, and insist that
attacks on Gaza were confined to carefully selected targets.
Christian Aid's policy and ad- vocacy officer, William Bell,
said: "Christian Aid welcomes this report, as an opportunity to
hear from those who endured and suffered the true horror of war.
Having visited Gaza just after the ceasefire, Christian Aid can
testify to the level of destruction and suffering of this
But, he went on, "Without international intervention that . . .
guarantees the long-term security and dignity of all living in this
region - both Palestinian and Israeli - then those lives will