Palestine – time for action

(Via Independent Catholic News

By Pat Gaffney and Ann Farr

Pax Christi (Pat Gaffney) and Kairos Britain (Ann Farr) ran two timely workshops on Palestine at the National Justice and Peace Network Conference last weekend. The following outlines their workshop structure, a vigil for Gaza and follow-up action ideas.

Participants were invited to look at a series of photographs as they came in and to choose the one that challenged them most. Images illustrated the situation in Palestine today: the restriction of movement, the arrest of children by the Israeli military, the demolition of homes. They also showed positive images including families gathered together, of Jews and Palestinians coming together to break the fast on the Mount of Olives and of the rebuilding of homes by an Israeli support group.

The first presentation looked at the context of the conflict in Palestine/Israel: pre 1948; the creation of Israel and subsequent displacement of thousands of Palestinians; refugees living in West Bank and Gaza – no status – fewer resources – no right of return – no compensation. Then the 1967 – 0ccupation; the separation wall/the checkpoints – loss of land – loss of freedom of movement; Israeli settlements’ expansion – illegal but growing in building and population; demolitions in the Jordan Valley – clearing the valley of Palestinians. The Arms Trade – to and from Israel – received attention.

The groups were asked to work in 2s/4s to react to what they had heard and ask questions. There was then a presentation on the work of Kairos Palestine – Kairos Britain. This is a network of individuals, organisations and faith communities formed in response to the Kairos Palestine document, ‘A Moment of Truth’.

The network continues the work of the Christians who met on Iona in May 2012 and issued the Iona call to the Christian communities in Britain and Ireland. It seeks a just and lasting peace in the region based on the realisation of full human and political rights for all, and calls for an end to oppression and injustice.

Participants were given an action planning sheet to write down some actions they wanted to explore further when they left the conference. The sessions ended with a short time of silence to reflect on what was heard and those involved in the conflict – then the Pax Christi multi- faith prayer for peace for said.

Suggested action ideas

Short term

The UK sells £7.9 billion worth of weapons to Israel each year. It also buy weapons and technology from Israel. One of the most important actions is to push for a total embargo on sales of weapons to and from Israel – and to enforce the same with the European Union.

And call to reinforce UN Resolution 1860 – calling for a cessation of hostilities in Gaza. The resolution was formed in 2009 and stands today. It was upheld again by the EU on 16 July 2014. There is need to affirm the EUs obligation to uphold humanitarian and international law.

Write / speak to your MP on these issues as a matter of urgency and also email the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and our new Secretary of State

Medium term

Support the World Week of Peace for Palestine & Israel, 21 – 27 September. This is an ecumenical week of prayer, action and advocacy for peace and justice in Palestine and Israel. The theme for this year is ‘When did we see you in prison’ with a focus on child prisoners. Materials and liturgical resources are on the Pax Christi website.

Where possible, engage with Jewish and Muslim communities – as is happening in parts of Israel where Jews and Muslims have been coming together to ‘break fast’ on some days during Ramadan. Interfaith dialogue and witness is important – and should also begin to engage in some of the hard questions that relate to peace and justice building in Palestine & Israel.

Long term

Come to the NJPN Conference 2015 with the theme “The things that make for peace”. This will explore the interconnection between issues of poverty, war and the destruction of the environment and how we need to work together on these issues to bring about change.


A prayer vigil for Gaza, organised by Pax Christi and Kairos Britain, was held on the Saturday evening at the Swanwick conference. 80 justice and peace activists gathered, in solidarity with thousands around the world, to pray for a peaceful resolution for the people of Palestine.


The Sabeel Prayers from Jerusalem were shared, including a plea for the international community to speak out for justice and compliance with international law and human rights:

God of justice and mercy, give the leaders of the world the eyes to see the suffering and pain of your people in Gaza, and inspire them to act against such violence. Now is the time for the international community to rise up and demand that justice is done so that peace may reign.

God of justice and mercy, our people are tired of temporary solutions. We pray that the international community through the UN will have the courage and determination to face the root causes of the problem and bring about a permanent resolution by ending the occupation of Palestine – West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem.

For further reading see:

Kairos Palestine document, ‘A Moment of Truth’.

Iona Call to Peace


‘No More War – War Never Again’ peace vigil, Monday 4th August at St. Francis Church

War-no-moreA peace vigil will be held on Monday 4th August, 11am-1pm at St. Francis of Assisi RC Church in Middlesbrough.

The vigil – titled ‘No More War – War Never Again’ – will include a service at 12 noon which will be attended by local MP Andy McDonald.

Organiser Tom Robinson said: “We invite all people of good will to attend our peace vigil as we ask for peace in our troubled world.

As we mark the entry of Britain into World War One on 4th August, we hope this vigil will strengthen our efforts to build a more just and peaceful world.”

The church will be open between 11am-1pm for silent prayer and reflection. All are welcome to attend the noon service which will include hymns, readings, prayers and a blessing of candles. We are delighted to be joined by Fr. Peter Ryan, from Lealholm, who will give a peace reflection.


National Justice and Peace Network Conference 2014

Sr. Josie Bulger, Emma Russell, Barbara Hungin, Tom Robinson, Moira Bridge, Nan Saeki, Anne Tracy against a backdrop of the Justice and Peace stall.
Sr. Josie Bulger, Emma Russell, Barbara Hungin, Tom Robinson, Moira Bridge, Nan Saeki, Anne Tracy against a backdrop of the Justice and Peace stall.

Delegates from around the country were ‘Called to life in all it’s fulness’ at this year’s National Justice and Peace Network annual conference.

Attending the conference – in Swanwick, Derbyshire – from the Middlesbrough Diocese were Barbara Hungin, Nan Saeki, Emma Russell, Tom Robinson, Anne Tracy, Elizabeth Love, Sr Josie Bulger and Moira Bridge who provided the ever-popular Fairtrade stall.

This year’s conference encouraged delegates to accept the responsibility of their baptism by being priests, prophets and kings. Guest speakers included CAFOD’s Clare Dixon, journalist and film producer Mary Colwell, Jesuit theologian Gemma Simmonds and MP Sarah Teather.

In addition to a number of stalls from Christian organisations (such as Pax Christi, Progressio, CND and Archbishop Romero Trust), workshops covering Palestine, climate change and the welfare state were just some of the activities on offer.

Barbara Hungin said: “The essence of the weekend is the opportunity to be inspired, and to consider effective practical action in partnership with so many others focused on Justice and Peace and the Integrity of Creation.”

Tom Robinson commented: “This has been a wonderful chance to meet like-minded people and share ideas on how we can put the social Gospel into action. A particular highlight was the energetic Justice and Peace Mass led by Columban priest Fr Peter Hughes.”

Emma Russell added: “It’s been interesting to hear the keynote speakers’ different views on our roles and responsibilities as baptised Catholics both within the church and within our local and global communities.”