When a delegation of U.S. Protestant and Orthodox representatives returned in late April from a visit to the Middle East, they immediately issued a statement “equally and unequivocally” condemning the suicide bombings against Israelis and “the violence of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.” Both types of violence, the Christian leaders said, were “counterproductive to achieving peace with justice.” The statement went on to outline “a just resolution” that would include “secure borders” for Israel and an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
To Robert Edgar, the general secretary of the National Council of Churches and one of the leaders of the delegation, it was an evenhanded statement—the type that the NCC and other Protestant and Orthodox denominations have been issuing for more than 20 years. But Edgar knew the statement would land the NCC once again in trouble with U.S. Jewish leaders.
Chris Herlinger, former senior writer for Church World Service, is a contributing writer for National Catholic Reporter’s Global Sisters Report. He is the coauthor, with Paul Jeffrey, of books on Haiti and Darfur, published by Seabury. A third book, Food Fight: Struggling for Justice in a Hungry World, has just been released.