Bishops condemn war on Palestinians



CANBERRA — Auxiliary Catholic Bishop Pat Power and Anglican Bishop of Canberra and Goulbourn George Browning issued a statement on April 1 condemning the Israeli assault on the Palestinian people.

"At a time when Christians around the world are celebrating the feast of Easter, we are appalled by the devastation being wreaked upon the Palestinian people", they stated.

The bishops called for "the Israeli government to withdraw its forces from the Palestinian territories immediately" and appealed to the Palestinian people to "refrain from any acts of terrorism".

The statement also pointed to the "inconsistency of the Israeli government condemning Yasser Arafat for his lack of control over suicide bombers, while at the same time ordering military action to undermine Arafat's leadership".

Power told Green Left Weekly what prompted him to issue the statement was the "television image on Sunday night of [US President George] Bush in his comfortable ranch telling the Palestinians to be good boys and girls and stop the terrorism", despite the "obvious terrorism of the Israelis".

He noted that some may interpret the statement as taking the side of the Palestinians, but that in reality "the situation is so uneven, where one side is armed with heavy armaments, tanks and helicopter gun ships ... and the other side resorts to stone throwing and suicide bombing".

While Power did not condone suicide bombing, he recognised that such acts were a "sign of how desperate people are".

"The US isn't giving leadership, so Australia with its allies and through the United Nations should do what it can do to see that an international peacekeeping force goes in to provide a buffer to the spiral of violence."

Power addressed an emergency rally of 100 people outside the Israeli embassy on April 2 called by the ACT Greens.

From Green Left Weekly, April 10, 2002.

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