News Archives


Qana bombing draws more calls for ceasefire

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
The Rev. R. Randy Day

Aug. 1, 2006

NEW YORK (UMNS) — Ten years ago, when the Lebanese village of Qana was bombed by Israel, the United Methodist Church adopted a statement condemning the action and dispatched a delegation to the White House to deliver it.

In light of the July 30 raid on Qana by Israel -- aimed at Hezbollah fighters but resulting in the deaths of more than 50 civilians, including many children ? the Rev. R. Randy Day has called upon United Methodists to “reaffirm and repeat” the action of a decade ago.

Day, who is chief executive of the denomination’s Board of Global Ministries, issued a statement on July 31 as the Hezbollah-Israeli conflict reached its 19th day. But hopes were dim for an immediate ceasefire.

The previous incident in Qana occurred on April 18, 1996, while the denomination’s highest legislative body, General Conference, was meeting in Denver. Nearly 100 people, mostly women and children, were killed when Israeli bombs fell on a refugee camp and U.N. peacekeeping area. General Conference delegates adopted a statement, “Crisis in Lebanon and Occupation of Palestine,” in response.

“In decrying the massacre in Qana, the General Conference called for the protection of children, youth, and civilians; better treatment for refugees; full religious freedom, and measures to assure the geographic, economic, and political security necessary for Israelis, Palestinians, and Lebanese to co-exist,” Day said.

A delegation -- led by Bishop Woodie White, then president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops ? was sent to Washington to share the statement with President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.

Day, who called for a total ceasefire to the current actions in Lebanon, said the behavior of both sides in the current Israeli-Hezbollah conflict should not be tolerated. “Suspicion that a village may be ?militant’ is no justification for bombing and killing 60 people who have taken refuge in a building,” his statement declared. “Such thinking is political and morally unacceptable.”

The highest priority, he noted, should be the protection of civilians, particularly women and children.

Map of Qana “The United States must join with the United Nations and major powers in acting quickly to bring about a permanent, enforceable ceasefire,” Day said. “Any other course of action is an abdication of moral responsibility. The use of air strikes by planes or missiles must come to an end. More than a million people, some 25 percent of the Lebanese population, have been displaced and towns in northern Israel are in jeopardy from Hezbollah missiles.”

He appealed to all Christian groups “to bring their full influence to bear on behalf of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” and to allow humanitarian concerns to override “theological preconceptions” of the region.

Day’s full statement can be found at http://gbgm-umc.org/global_news/pr.cfm?articleid=4157 on the Board of Global Ministries Web site.

Day and Jan Love, chief executive of the board’s Women’s Division, are among the signers of an interfaith plea for “A Season of Prayer for Peace in the Middle East,” sponsored by the National Council of Churches and Religions for Peace-USA.

A new Web site, www.seasonofprayer.org, has prayers, litanies, scripture texts, hymns, poems and other prayer aids from many religions traditions.

British Methodist church leaders also called for an immediate ceasefire and expressed concern about the bombings in Qana. “Children are bearing the brunt of this conflict, while adults fail to negotiate a peaceful resolution,” said Steve Pearce, Methodist secretary for children’s work, in a July 31 press release.

“The figures for the dead and injured show that one in every three deaths is of a child and that half of the injuries are to children. Children in these areas are exposed to the violence and hatred that is characteristic of war and could face serious difficulties in developing an understanding of what it is like to live in peace.”

The United Methodist Committee on Relief is working with long-time partners in the region to assist with humanitarian aid during this crisis and is seeking donations. Checks may be written to UMCOR, designated for “Middle East Emergency Fund,” Advance No. 601740, and placed in church collection plates or mailed directly to: UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087-9068. Credit-card donations may be made by calling (800) 554-8583. Online donations can be made at http://secure.gbgm-umc.org/donations/donate.cfm?code=601740&id=30. One hundred percent of the contribution goes to the Advance ministry indicated.

Church World Service announced an initial $1 million fundraising appeal on July 31 to support the humanitarian work of its partners in the region, the Middle East Council of Churches and International Orthodox Christian Charities.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

Related Articles
UMCOR needs funds for Middle East crisis
United Methodists join pleas for end to Middle East violence
Church’s mission personnel avoid latest Middle East danger
Resources
Board of Global Ministries
United Methodist Committee on Relief