Archbishop of Canterbury condemns the spiralling violence in the Middle East

Archbishop Rowan Williams has condemned unequivocally the resort to violence in the current crisis in the Middle East. This is in the context of a pastoral letter of sympathy and support for Christian communities in the Lebanon. He is careful to condemn the use of violence on all sides; which is welcome . The Pope also condemns the violence on all sides because of the way it targets innocent civilians; but to his credit the Pope goes further in reminding the world that the context of this violence is an objective injustice – ” violations “of law and justice” at the root of the conflict could not be used to sanction bloodshed”. So often news bulletins about these conflicts between Israel and its neighbours treat the situation as if it is one of equal responsibility. The fact is that Israel controls the lives of Palestinians in every way under military regulation, the Palestinian people are strugglingto feed and clothe themselves, have no democratic voice in the laws that impinge on their daily lives; are effectively stateless and cannot travel; their young people have no hope for a future the way things are. Israeli citizens on the other hand live a modern western lifestyle with every access to justice and security. The murder of Israeli citizens by terrorist rockets seems to justify any level of disproportionate response but the slaughter of innocent Lebanese and Palestinian women and children by Israeli bombs is regarded as just an unfortunate by-product of Israel’s need for security. The use of violence by all sides will never the secure the future of either but will perpetuate a cycle of hatred; and condemn a whole generation of children to a poverty-stricken and fear-filled start to their lives. Why are the world’s political leaders not calling for an end to violence on all sides. Isn’t Israel’s tactics as reprehensible as the terrorists? Or is it because all of the world powers especially the US and the UK have no leg to stand on in condemning the use of bombardment of civilians and invasion of a sovereign state, because that is exactly the means they have used to try and solve the Iraq and Afghanistan situations.

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