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NCC deplores bombing in Jerusalem
amid perceptible steps toward peace

New York, March 25, 2011 -- The National Council of Churches deplored the bombing of a crowded bus in Jerusalem Wednesday that killed a women and injured at least 24 persons.

"In the 61 years of its existence, the National Council of Churches has consistently condemned violence as a tactic for advancing political ideology," said the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, NCC general secretary. "The bomb that tore through this bus served no earthly cause but was a murderous assault on all that Christians, Muslims and Jews deem holy."

Kinnamon noted that Israel and Palestine are a geopolitical tinderbox where violence can erupt at any time.

"Anger and frustration festers on both sides," Kinnamon said. "Israelis live with the constant possibility of missile attacks and terrorist attacks on innocent civilians, including children. Palestinians live behind walls that impede access to their businesses, crops, houses of worship and medical facilities. It's an untenable situation that makes violence inevitable."

But that in no way makes the violence acceptable, Kinnamon said. "Regardless of how justifiable it may seem, violence is condemned in holy scripture in all the Abrahamic traditions -- Christian, Muslim and Jewish."

Kinnamon also said the apparent decision by Hamas to resume rocket attacks on Israel is "deplorable."

The rocket attacks and the Jerusalem bus bombing are particularly evil because it distracts attention from small but encouraging steps toward peace, Kinnamon said.

"The U.S. sponsored peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, though set back by Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, are not yet dead," he said.

There is a growing peace movement in Israel among thousands who are tired of war and who believe their government's treatment of Palestinians is unjust, Kinnamon said.

"And this month there were nonviolent rallies by thousands of young Palestinians critical of Hamas and the Palestinian authority and calling for a national-unity government and new democratic elections throughout the Palestinian community."

The rallies were attacked by thugs from both Hamas and the Palestinian authority, according to reports.

But Kinnamon said he had received a message from Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center in Washington, discerning a kernel of hope in the rallies.

Waskow wrote, "The old and destructive journalistic slogan, 'If it bleeds, it leads,' has once again resulted in the elevation of murder to the Big Story and the use of nonviolent protest by Palestinian youth has been all but ignored  by US media."

Waskow added: "But the nonviolent rallies -- sparked by the Egyptian revolt but deeply rooted in Palestinian hunger for fresh leadership and a new way of seeking Palestinian statehood alongside Israel -- might be far more important in the longer run than the vile murders of Israeli civilians, which are far more likely to freeze the status quo of fear and rage than to bring change."

Kinnamon said, "the murders of Israeli civilians was vile indeed, and we will condemn such acts of mindless violence whenever they occur."

"At the same time," Kinnamon said, "we call on all observers -- journalists, diplomats, relief workers and religious leaders -- to encourage perceptible movements toward peace and do whatever they can to keep the hopeful embers alive."


Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 37 member communions -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches -- include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell), pjenks@ncccusa.org

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