Canadians are greatly handicapped in comprehending and fathoming the complexity of the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict, now in its third week, and reaching the dubious distinction of being, what the Globe and Mail has labelled, “the longest war the Jewish state has waged in Gaza.” From the peaceful nation in which we live, and from the pleasures of the summer months, Canadians, while listening to and watching daily reports of increasing numbers of deaths and immeasurable physical destruction, lack any immediate knowledge to understand the struggles of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples.

Canadians, however, are people of many nations who have almost universally migrated here from other lands because of conflict or natural disasters over the past three hundred years. Indigenous peoples received increasing numbers of people to this land we now know as Canada. Today, Canada is regarded as a nation of peace and opportunity.

It is that peace and opportunity that all Canadians would pray for the peoples of Israel and of Palestine.  The Presbyterian Church in Canada laments the horrific loss of human life in the present conflict. The past sixty-six years – three generations – have been dominated by a world-wide emphasis on bringing peace to this area known as the Holy Land.

As a Christian denomination we urge all sides of the present conflict to cease hostilities and resume peace negotiations. God, whom we all worship and acknowledge, laments the loss of every human life.  We urge Palestinians to acknowledge the existence and right of Israel to exist as a sovereign state. We urge Israelis to end the occupation of Palestinian lands. We urge both sides to move from this time of brutal, tragic and hateful separation to a situation of peace and a just and lasting solution – the State of Israel recognized by all its neighbours with its citizens living without fear and in peace, and a sovereign Palestinian state, with its citizens living without fear and in peace.

May the God of the three Abrahamic faiths be acknowledged as Creator of all and called upon to be the source of peace and reconciliation so that all peoples may rise above what Pope Francis has called the “spiral of hatred and violence”.  Our prayers join those of all people of good will calling for the strongest efforts for reconciliation so that Israelis and Palestinians may live side-by-side in peace.

“May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers. For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you.” For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.”  Psalm 122: 6–9 

—The Reverend Professor Stephen C Farris, Moderator of the 140th General Assembly