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July 2014

21 July – Pax Christi at NJPN Conference, Swanwick

Gaza_SwanwickPax Christi and Kairos Britain offered workshops, Time for Action, on  Palestine & Israel at the National Justice and Peace Conference last weekend.  They also organised a prayer vigil for Gaza on the Saturday evening attended by around 80 participants who gathered around images of Palestine while sharing prayers for peace and for peacemakers in Palestine & Israel.

The workshop offered the following action points for Gaza and the on-going occupation of Palestine

Time for Action – Israel & Palestine workshop action points.

 Short term

  • The UK sells £6.3 million of weapons to Israel each year.  We also buy weapons and technology from Israel.  One of the most important actions we can take is to have a total embargo on sales of weapons to and from Israel – and to enforce the same with the European Union.  Sign petition here 

 

Pax Christi's Ann Farr (black t-shirt) with workshop participant

Pax Christi’s Ann Farr (black t-shirt) with workshop participant

  • We need 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.
  • We 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 FCO and our new Secretary of State Private.office@gsi.gov.uk

 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 on the Pax Christi website.

Where possible engage with Jewish and Muslim communities –  in parts of Israel 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 building peace and justice  in Palestine & Israel.

 

8 July, Christian Campaigners call for Church House to boycott the arms trade: Campaigners will be holding a silent vigil on Wednesday 9 July between 11.00 and 12.00 noon in The Sanctuary, in front of Westminster Abbey.

 

arms dealers-churchA coalition of Christian campaigners have called for the Church of England to stop facilitating arms trade events. This follows the announcement that Church House, the headquarters of the Church of England, will be hosting an event attended by some of the largest arms companies in the world.

The Chief of the Air Staff’s Air Power Conference, taking place in Church House Conference Centre, Westminster, on 09-10 July will have a focus on aerial weaponry. The event will be addressed by the Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond MP, and is sponsored and attended by a number of arms companies, including BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Finmeccanica.

Church House Conference Centre is part of Church House, the building that houses the administrative headquarters of the Church Commissioners, the Archbishops’ Council and other parts of the Church of England. The Conference Centre is a wholly owned subsidiary company of the Church House Corporation, whose president is the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi said: “A number of Christians are very concerned about this event. The Church of England’s ethical investment policy includes ‘conscientiousness with regard to human rights’ as one of its criteria. How then can it host and accept income from some of the largest arms exporting companies whose weapons are used to abuse the rights of others?”

Unfortunately this is not the first time that the arms trade has held an event in Church House Conference Centre. For example, a similar conference took place in November 2012 and was met with opposition from Christian activists, who sent letters to Church House Conference Centre and to the Archbishop of Canterbury. A prayer vigil outside Church House on the morning of the Conference.

Emma Anthony, of Fellowship of Reconciliation, said: “The Church is kidding itself when it says that RUSI is an independent security think tank. In reality, they’re anything but independent as they couldn’t exist without funding from the arms industry. There is no way, with those sponsors, that these conferences are anything other than the repugnant preparation for war. The Church should reject this process, let alone facilitate it.”

Symon Hill of the Campaign Against Arms Trade Christian Network said:“The arms companies are not hiring Church House Conference Centre because they want to be nice, or to support the Church. They are doing it because it’s good for their business. By agreeing to host them Church House Conference Centre is supporting the arms trade by giving practical support and a veneer of legitimacy to an industry that profits from death and destruction.”

 

 

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