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August 30, 2001
President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, DC  20500

 Dear President Bush:

We write today to express grave concern about recent events in the Middle East, in particular, the recent occupation of the town of Beit Jala by the Israeli military.  We appreciate that your Administration called for the Israeli military to withdraw, and urge you to continue to press the government of Israel to comply.

We would especially like to voice our distress regarding the Israeli military's occupation of the Lutheran church in Beit Jala and other of its properties including an orphanage and school.  We view this occupation of a Christian site for military purposes as extremely serious, and urge you to communicate with all parties the concern that the violence not spill over into places of worship of any faith.  We believe all places of worship are sacred.

On June 7 a delegation of US religious leaders met with Secretary of State Colin Powell taking a letter signed by an additional eighteen heads of U.S. churches and related organizations, myself included.  Our views about the situation in the region remain unchanged.  If anything, recent events have only served to emphasize these concerns, and to heighten the need for strong American leadership as an irreplaceable factor in resolving this tragic conflict of interests.  We urge your Administration to support the deployment of multinational observers with the aim of promoting peace, justice and security in the Occupied Territories.

Since last December, churches across the United States have participated in daily prayer vigils lifting up peace in the region, and the precarious situation of the churches in Jerusalem.  We also continue to offer our prayers and encouragement for you, and for your Administration, in your calls to end the cycles of violence and for the opening of new avenues toward a just peace in the region.

Yours in Christ,
Rev. Bob Edgar, General Secretary
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.


Link to:

NCC News Story 8/30/01: "Edgar Writes Bush, Jerusalem Church Leaders with Concern About Israeli Military Occupation of Beit Jala"

Dr. Edgar's Letter to Five Church Leaders in Jerusalem
Dr. Edgar's Letter to Lutheran Bishop of Jerusalem Munib A. Younan
18 U.S. Church Leaders' June 7, 2001, Letter to Colin Powell

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