Peace Not Walls joins 34 Organizations to Call for the End to the Blockade on GazaPeace Not Walls<div class="ExternalClassA1B2D6F6AC0E49C2B4DE1E7C1B47669E">​T<span style="line-height&#58;1.6;">he Lutheran World​ Federation- Jerusalem Program along with 34 other organizations and thousands of people launch a public call to end the Gaza blockade. </span><a href="https&#58;//" style="line-height&#58;1.6;">Sign the petition</a><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"> to #OpenGaza and allow homes, schools, and hospitals to be rebuilt after the 2014 war.</span><div><span style="line-height&#58;20.7999992370605px;"><br></span><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;"></span><p>&quot;On the anniversary of the end of the conflict between the government of Israel and Palestinian armed groups, 35 aid, faith, development, and human rights organizations are calling for construction materials like wood, steel bars and cement to be allowed into Gaza so that hospitals, schools and homes can be urgently rebuilt.</p><p>More than 635,000 people from around the globe have joined the organizations in backing an unprecedented joint call urging world leaders to press the Israeli government to lift the blockade on Gaza and remove the restrictions on basic building materials needed to reconstruct the coastal strip.</p><p>Last year's conflict saw over 19,000 homes destroyed, and 100,000 people left homeless. Donor governments have pledged $3.5 billion to rebuild Gaza, but a year on, Israeli restrictions on building materials continue to cause delays. Reconstruction has started on just over 2,000 of the 19,000 homes destroyed last year, and not a single home has been fully rebuilt.</p><p>Ibrahem El Shatali, a resident of Gaza City said, 'Many of my friends and family members have been homeless for months now — how can we live like this, surrounded by rubble with no hope, no future and no prospect of things getting better? All we need are basic building materials and a fresh start.'&quot;</p><p><strong>The full petition text supported by the organizations can be seen </strong><a href="https&#58;//"><strong>here</strong></a><strong> and calls on the leaders of the U.S. and the European Union, amongst others, to push for an end to the blockade and allow desperately needed building materials, including wood, aggregate, steel bar, and cement to enter Gaza.</strong></p><p>According to research carried out in a recent <a href="http&#58;//">joint international ​NGO report</a>, the illegal Israeli blockade has obstructed reconstruction efforts, worsening the humanitarian crisis inside the Gaza Strip.&quot; Claiming security concerns, including rocket and other attacks from Hamas' military wing, the Qassam Brigades, Israel restricts the entry of materials into Gaza that it defines as &quot;dual-use&quot; (materials that could be used for military activities). Without access to building materials, including wood, aggregate, steel bar, and cement that are on the &quot;dual-use&quot; list, reconstruction efforts have been delayed.</p><p><a href="https&#58;//"><strong>Sign the​ petition</strong></a><strong> and tell everyone -- let's get 1.8 million voices for urgent action, one for each person living in Gaza. Join more than 635,000 people who have already signed!</strong></p><p><a href="http&#58;//">Quoted text above from the Lutheran World Federation - Jerusalem</a> ​</p></div></div>09/02/2015"We Support Peace" Banner CampaignPeace Not Walls<div class="ExternalClassC1671269430F4A5CA2CE5169A60DDCC5"><p>​Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is inviting houses of worship across the United&#160;States to display a &quot;We Support Peace with Justice&quot; banner in public. CMEP explains &quot;It is our hope that various religious institutions will choose to publicly reflect their congregants wishes for a peaceful solution to the decades old conflict in the Middle East. In light of the most recent war, violence and devastation, there is an immediate need and urgent opportunity to advance this cause of peace. We hope that a strong public demonstration of support for peace and justice from people all across America will encourage political leaders to make the decisions necessary to end this tragic conflict.​&quot;</p><p>​For a Q&amp;A about the banner campaign and to order a banner<a href="http&#58;//"> click here.​</a><br></p><p>​<br></p></div>04/24/2015LWF Advocates for Gaza Reconstruction: World Not Delivering on Gaza Reconstruction Promises, New Report WarnsPeace Not Walls<div class="ExternalClass020112226D614E4EAEBB34AD8B1DB95E"><p style="margin-top&#58;15px;margin-bottom&#58;15px;line-height&#58;1.5;color&#58;#484f57;background-color&#58;#ffffff;"><span style="font-family&#58;calibri;font-size&#58;17.3333339691162px;">The international community must urgently change its approach to Gaza and deliver on promises of reconstruction, The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) together with 45 other agencies said today in a new report on the lack of progress since last year's conflict.</span></p><p style="margin-top&#58;15px;margin-bottom&#58;15px;line-height&#58;1.5;color&#58;#484f57;background-color&#58;#ffffff;"><span style="font-family&#58;calibri;font-size&#58;17.3333339691162px;">“Six months since donors pledged $3.5 billion towards Gaza's recovery, many people are worse off and not a single one of the 19,000 destroyed homes has been rebuilt. 100,000 people are still homeless and many are living in makeshift camps or schools,” the report says.</span></p><p style="margin-top&#58;15px;margin-bottom&#58;15px;line-height&#58;1.5;color&#58;#484f57;background-color&#58;#ffffff;"><span style="font-family&#58;calibri;font-size&#58;17.3333339691162px;">The report, &quot;Charting a New Course&#58; Overcoming the stalemate in Gaza,&quot; warns that further conflict is inevitable—and with it the cycle of destruction and donor-funded reconstruction—unless world leaders implement a new approach that addresses the underlying causes of the conflict. Donors must insist on a permanent ceasefire, accountability of all parties for ongoing violations of international law, and an end to the Israeli blockade that seals in 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza and keeps them separated from the West Bank. Rather than challenging the blockade, the report found that most donors are accepting ways to work around it.</span></p><p><span style="line-height&#58;1.6;font-family&#58;calibri;font-size&#58;17.3333339691162px;">Text above&#160;from LWF news release. <a href="http&#58;//">Click here for full text.&#160;​</a></span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;calibri;font-size&#58;17.3333339691162px;">​Further details, including a copy of the report, <a href="http&#58;//">can be found here</a>.&#160;&#160;​</span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;calibri;font-size&#58;17.3333339691162px;"><a href="http&#58;//">Click here​</a> for the December 2014 letter signed by the ELCA about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.</span></p></div>04/13/2015Easter Message from the Heads of Churches of JerusalemPeace Not Walls<div class="ExternalClassF2FC5B3D300C40EF80244447D2422A9E"><p>​The&#160;​​Easter Message of&#160;the&#160;​Heads of Churches in​&#160;Jerusalem states,</p><div>&quot;Along with all people of good will, we are deeply distressed by the level of violence still being falsely perpetrated in the name of religion in parts of the Middle East and elsewhere in recent times. Members of some of the ancient Christian communities in this region – especially in Egypt, Iraq and Syria – have been among those most directly affected, along with other minority populations. &#160; There is no true religion which advocates violation of the human person or the victimization of minority groups in society and we condemn such actions in the strongest possible terms. Those who engage in such barbaric behaviour dehumanize not only their victims, but themselves.</div><div><br></div><div>In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we urge people everywhere not to fall into despair. The very existence of this city of Jerusalem is paradoxically a sign of hope that God’s kingdom of peace, love and justice will prevail. There are indeed signs of darkness around us which make this a painful time to live through, but the darkest part of the night is often shortly before the dawn. The joyful proclamation of the Resurrection at dawn on Easter Sunday assures us that the last word lies not with violence and inhumanity but with God’s purpose of love, justice and hope which runs like a thread throughout history and will find its ultimate fulfillment in the coming fullness of his Kingdom.​&quot;</div><div><br></div><div><a href="http&#58;//">Full text of Easter Message&#160;​​​</a></div></div>04/02/2015Easter Message from Bishop Younan Peace Not Walls<div class="ExternalClass1CC4BD35275241C8BBC721F6073237BD"><p>In his Easter mesage from Jerusalem,&#160;Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), writes, &quot;But&#160;at this moment, I am telling my people to hold fast to the hope of the resurrection. We must always look to the empty tomb, trusting that because Christ is risen, God will never allow any stone to crush our spirit. Because Christ is risen, God will not allow the hearts of politicians and world leaders to remain cold as stone, caring only for their own interests and power. Because Christ is risen, God will not allow these peoples to be divided forever. Because the stone was already rolled back on that resurrection morning, we hold steadfast in the hope that God is at work even now, opening the eyes of the politicians, the churches, and the world—even as God has opened the tomb.&quot;&#160;</p><p><a href="http&#58;//">Full text of the Easter Message​</a></p></div>04/02/2015Peace Not Walls Action Alert: Help End Augusta Victoria Hospital Cash Crisis Peace Not Walls<div class="ExternalClass6803B88910034EDFAE2374D0BDD78CBB"><span class="xc_maintext"><p><span style="font-family&#58;verdana, geneva;">Last November, with the help of ELCA members like you, advocates for the Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH), operated by <a href="http&#58;//">The Lutheran World Federation</a> in East Jerusalem, applauded the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for releasing more than $13 million in helping relieve the cash flow crisis facing the hospital. AVH is again facing a cash flow crisis as a result of the inability of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to pay the fees for the patients it referred to AVH during the period of June through December 2014.</span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;verdana, geneva;">The funding from USAID, along with a similar contribution from the European Union, covered debt owed to the Hospital by the Palestinian Authority for patients referred by the PA to the AVH for medical care provided during the year 2013 through mid-May 2014.</span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;verdana, geneva;">Even though the PA made an additional payment of the equivalent of approximately $263,000 in December 2014, unfortunately, the uncovered costs of care for the rest of 2014 (about $16.6 million) as well as 2015 have not been met because the PA’s budgetary shortfalls persist.&#160; Meanwhile, the costs for patients referred to the AVH continue to mount at the rate of between $2 and $2.5 million per month.</span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;verdana, geneva;">The situation has taken on considerable urgency again because the PA's already precarious financial situation has been exacerbated by the Israeli government’s recent decision to freeze $127 million in tax revenues as well as by the possibility of new U.S. Congressional restrictions on American assistance to the Palestinian Authority due to the PA’s plan to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).&#160;</span></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;verdana, geneva;">Please ask the US Congress to issue a letter of authorization for the immediate transfer of unspent 2014 funds and 2015 allocations to USAID in order to meet an urgent humanitarian need of the Palestinian people by covering at least 50% of the PA de</span><span style="font-family&#58;verdana, geneva;">bt to Augusta Victoria Hospital and the other East Jerusalem hospitals.</span></p><p><font face="verdana, geneva">We have an <a href="http&#58;//">online form</a> to make it easy to contact your representative, including&#160;a sample letter.</font></p><p><span style="font-family&#58;verdana, geneva;">Contact the Peace Not Walls team for additional information&#58; </span><a style="font-family&#58;verdana, geneva;"></a></p><p><br></p></span></div>02/16/2015