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I’m crying out for justice, peace and reconciliation for ALL people of the Holy Land

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Thabo Makgoba is the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town.

Just as we condemn Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, and the horrific 7 October attacks on civilians – reminiscent of the pogroms carried out against Jews in the past – so too we condemn the Israeli attacks on Gaza, which have led to mass civilian casualties.

The escalating levels of fighting and destruction we have seen in Israel and Palestine since 7 October 2023 are fast turning the land we call holy into one of those places in the world where conflict and deep-seated violence is destroying any form of human society, based on a sense of the common good, and even levels of minimal human decency.

The injustices and aggression that characterise the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians tear me apart, forcing me into quiet contemplation of the horrors we are seeing. I’m wanting to cry out for ceasefires and humanitarian corridors, but almost despairing of whether it will make the slightest difference.

Finally, the international community needs to take responsibility for its role in fuelling the conflict, with its weapons exports to the Middle East.

The rhetoric of parties to the conflict, demonising their enemies as inhuman, is frightening in its familiarity to South Africans who lived under apartheid.

For as our Truth and Reconciliation Commission heard, it gave licence to soldiers on the ground to ignore the professed assurances of humane treatment by their leaders, and to commit gross violations of people’s human rights. Dehumanising rhetoric leads to crimes against humanity and, in Rwanda, it even led to genocide.

Just as we condemn Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, and the horrific 7 October attacks on civilians – reminiscent of the pogroms carried out against Jews in the past – so too we condemn the Israeli attacks on Gaza, which Amnesty International has documented as unlawful and indiscriminate, leading to mass civilian casualties.

Condemn any acts that target civilians

I stand with the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem in their statement that: “We unequivocally condemn any acts that target civilians, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity or faith. Such actions go against the fundamental principles of humanity and the teachings of Christ, who implored us to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’. (Mark 12:31).

Together with the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, Dr Hosam Naoum, I call for:

  • An immediate cessation of violence; and
  • The establishment of humanitarian corridors into Gaza to facilitate the provision of food, water, medical supplies and electricity to civilian infrastructure.

I also call for the unconditional release of hostages, and stand with the church leaders in Jerusalem as they appeal for sincere dialogue aimed at finding lasting solutions that promote justice, peace and reconciliation for all the people of the Holy Land. The occupation of the West Bank of Jordan has to be ended and the Palestinians given the right of self-determination there and in Gaza. Equally, Israelis need to be able to live in peace and security.

Finally, the international community needs to take responsibility for its role in fuelling the conflict, with its weapons exports to the Middle East. Any nation which arms a party to the conflict, whether directly or indirectly, implicitly makes this war its war too.

I reiterate the appeal by church leaders in Jerusalem: “We call upon the international community to redouble its efforts to mediate a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land, based on equal rights for all, and on international legitimacy.” DM

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  • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

    Archbishop this statement is unfortunately disingenuous. The Anglican Church of South Africa has consistently sided with the Palestinians. On 28 September 2023 the Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) officially declared Israel an apartheid state. Since 7 October the Jewish community has received no acknowledgment or comfort (private or public) from the ACSA for the largest single-day massacre of Jewish people since the Holocaust. Not that we are looking for empathy or sympathy, nor need any from this quarter, but your statement is transparent to suggest being delivered or received with equanimity.

    Of the 8 billion human beings in the world today, there are approximately 2.4 billion adherents to Christianity (31.6%), 1.8 billion Muslims (24.1%) and around 16 million Jews (0.2%). There are 103 Christian nations, 56 Muslim ones and only one Jewish state, Israel, which constitutes 0.025% of the land mass of the Middle East. Archbishop, after you have checked these facts, pray on them, and ask yourself with all due respect, who’s right to exist is the only one regularly challenged and what is the real motivation?

  • Kanu Sukha says:

    Thank you arch for correctly defining it as a conflict between Israel and Palestinians … not as some have between the Israeli regime and Hamas. Hamas entered the scene long after the ‘creation’ of the Israeli state … which when it suited them, it conveniently supported. It is the scapegoat which the current BB regime uses for its various abuses against Palestinians in general. I do have a question though … if the unconditional release of ‘hostages’ (notwithstanding that all Palestinians have been ‘hostages’ of the Israeli regime for decades) is part of your call … can you imagine (given what they are doing to it now with the tacit endorsement of the US) how and what BB and his gang would do not just to Gaza, but the West Bank also ? This is the same mindset that led to the murder of Rabin … and Gandhi, MLK and the likes . Strength to your message .

    • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

      I read many of your comments in these articles, and although I differ, I respect that you are entitled your own opinion. I am concerned at you describing the “hostages” in inverted commas, as if this is somehow in dispute or if somehow if they are Israeli/Jewish they are less than human. Your comment is also consistently along the lines of Israel being a US / western construct. Do Jews have no right to existence or self-determination? In your view is there no such thing as a Jewish holy land? What should the 16-odd million Jews today (7 million in Israel and 7 million in diaspora who call Israel home) do, in your opinion?

  • Esskay Esskay says:

    The dutiful condemnation of the 7 Oct massacre does not conceal your bias and almost all other human rights activists who view Israel as the guilty party. Calling the terrorists beasts or animals is unfair to beasts or animals. No creature other than depraved and deluded humans would perpetrate such evil. And I am sure you know that Israel never targets civilians – the civilians are positioned as human shields – Israel targets Hamas – Hamas sacrifices its people. Please pray for revelation.

  • David Forbes says:

    What took you so long Arch? Three weeks? 8000+ dead (not counting the nearly 2000 missing, of which nearly 1000 are children? God doesn’t condone killing, nor the Gaza genocide. Tutu would have spoken out on the day Netenyahu declared war (an unequal war, really, stones against tanks). Really, you owe us an explanation! Your handwringing about whether you could make a difference: yours is one voice in 7-billion, if you raised it, people would listen, but you do it now, when the blood of children is flooding the streets of Gaza. You can’t build a “holy land” on the graves of children. And as for the Zionist apologists, ignore them. Their side is heard in the mass media all the time, and America pushes their line continually, with their sick European allies who have sided with Israel and ignored the genocide until now. Human rights activists stand on the side of Palestinians precisely because most of the world (including the UN, has declared Zionist policy to be apartheid). Mr Steve Kruger condemns the “terrorists” but what is the continual bombing of civilians with the STATED AIM of driving them all out, or of killing them all, once and for all, if not terrorism? Those children that survive this Zionist-inspired holocaust will be traumatised for life. BB and co have a genocide plan, didn’t you know? Read the news. All animals are of a higher moral code than humans, it is the evil that men do that lives long after they have turned to dust.

  • David Kramer says:

    Thank you Archbishop Makgoba.

  • Dietmar Horn says:

    Hamas is using the entire population of Gaza as a human shield. This is the most reprehensible and inhumane form of warfare I know. Hamas is therefore solely causally responsible for the suffering of the population. If authors and commentators critical of Israel cannot name this fact and do not expressly condemn it, they are showing who they are. In my opinion, they have no moral compass whatsoever.

    • Stephen Paul says:

      Bravo. The most lucid few lines I have read amongst all the moral depravity. Of course Hamas knew that their pogrom / Nazi-like attack on Oct 7 was an act of war and any Israeli response would have their civilian population in the firing line so that all their useful idiots in the media and the U N would be condemning Israel and calling for a cease fire to protect the civilians. And inflame the Muslim world in both Islamic and western countries. The Archbishop’s sentiments are commendable if somewhat trite and I would be interested to know what, in his words, living in peace and security for both sides, looks like.

      , live in peace and security.

  • Dietmar Horn says:

    The policies of Netanyahu, his extreme right-wing coalition partners and the behavior of settlers in the West Banks are rightly discussed controversially in Israel itself, as well as in all democratic states. This is exactly what makes the difference between autocracies, both religious and secular. There, people do not have the opportunity to express criticism of their political and religious leaders and to demand compliance with human rights in their own country without risking life and limb. I can understand that people of Islamic faith have difficulty recognizing this difference. But the fact that representatives of a large Christian church can be so blind dismays me deeply.

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