Letter to Our American Neighbors, Friends, Fellow Citizens, Government Representatives, and Our American Administration

The Middle East Study Committee Report begins with eight letters addressed to different communities. The PCUSA site has them posted, but for some reason, is currently down. I'll post all eight of them one by one. Please check back to www.pcusa.org/middleeastpeace for a fuller update. I expect the site should be back up and running soon. We are nine Presbyterians who are also American citizens. And while there are many audiences for our work, our hope is that we will also be able to encourage and challenge you to work with us, and allow us to work with you, to seek justice, security, and peace throughout the Middle East.

No doubt some of our words will come across as harsh rebuke; please hear them as our desire to speak the truth in love. We are grateful for the freedoms our nation provides us, and we see them as nothing short of God’s grace for us as a nation and as individuals. It is because of this that we speak as bluntly as we do, following Christ’s word to confess the log in our own eye before pointing out the speck in our neighbor’s. In short, we think our American ideal of the equal dignity afforded each human being is one for which we commendably strive. And when we as a nation fall short of that ideal, we must be honest with ourselves.

Our nation is powerful. As a result, when we act well, our works of good will, opportunity, and equality spread far. By the same token, when we behave badly, the consequences are devastating. It is our hope that, as a nation, we will confess the latter while we strive for the former in relating to the rest of the world. May this especially be true in the Middle East, where our intervention has been, at best, inconsistent, and at worst, destructive.

We have seen in Israel/Palestine, and in the neighboring nations, how governments who receive extravagant benefits of our foreign aid consistently violate the most basic of human rights. This is a fact that should give every American pause and should move us to hold our elected officials accountable.

And to you, those whom we have elected, whether Republican or Democrat, we are tired of partisan politics. We are weary of pronouncements that do nothing to further the cause of peace and actions that obstruct it in the Middle East. It is our foreign aid and political impotence that enable the continued Israeli Occupation, among other regional injustices. We implore you: Hold nations accountable for what they receive from our taxes. And, at the very least, implement existing American laws that would do much to alleviate unconscionable suffering. Our stated policy has supported a two-state solution for decades; the opportunity for that to happen is disappearing rapidly.

We are ready to work with you to bring peace, security, and justice to Palestinians and Israelis alike. And where we believe you are amiss, we will continue to speak truth to power.