October 31, 2007

To: President George W. Bush
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Members of United States Senate
Members of House of Representatives

From: Religious Leaders and Organizations of Greater Chicago

We are a coalition of faith-based organizations, religious leaders, and religiously identified organizations and individuals. We are Christians, Muslims and Jews from the Greater Chicago region. We represent communities with deep spiritual and family ties to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories and communities who are deeply concerned about the humanitarian crises stemming from Israel’s 40-year long military occupation of the West
Bank and Gaza Strip.

We are calling on you, our country’s leaders, to protest the Israeli government’s decision of September 19, 2007, to declare Gaza a “hostile entity.”

Israel claims that this designation gives it the freedom to cut electricity, fuel, and other basic necessities to the 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, half of whom are children and the majority of whom are impoverished. Some 1.2 million Gazans already depend on international food handouts to survive. Their situation has been made significantly worse by Israel’s frequent prevention of vital supplies and services from entering Gaza. Through this new declaration, the Israeli government appears to be attempting to justify and gain political support for policies that already amount to the collective punishment of a whole population.

Secretary Rice has stated that the U.S. “will not abandon the innocent Palestinians in Gaza, and indeed will make every effort to deal with their humanitarian needs.” How can this commitment be upheld if our government stands by silently while Israel moves to exacerbate an already dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza? If the United States is genuinely interested in fostering peace between Israelis and Palestinians, the Israeli action cannot stand without rebuke.

The Israeli government justifies its policies as a way to pressure Gazans to turn against those who fire crude homemade rockets into Israel. Indeed, Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli communities are illegal and must be condemned. The firing of these Qassam rockets killed four Israelis in 2006-2007; at the same time Israeli missile strikes and military actions in civilian areas killed hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza, including at least 147 children. These illegal acts also deserve condemnation.

Israel’s harsh strategy will only prejudice future negotiations to end the conflict, which needs unified and empowered Palestinian and Israeli leadership to reach a comprehensive peace agreement.

Therefore, we urge you to take immediate action to:

• Call on the Israeli government to immediately rescind its decision to designate Gaza
as a “hostile entity.”

• Demand that Israel’s government fulfill its obligation as an occupying power under international humanitarian and human rights law to ensure the welfare of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip, notably its obligation to ensure the supply of essential necessities such as electrical power and to allow the movement of people and goods.

Remaining silent in the face of growing impoverishment and threats against the people of Gaza implies our consent. As people of faith and as Americans, we expect our government to support policies that foster peace and prosperity, not further violence and suffering in the Middle East.

* * * *
List of Signatories to Interfaith Letter

1. The Rev. Dr. Larry L. Greenfield
Executive Minister
American Baptist Churches of
Metro Chicago
Co-Convener, Chicago Faith
Coalition on Middle East Policy

2. The Rev. Cotton Fite, Ph.D.
Priest Associate, St. Luke’s
Evanston, IL

3. Michael McConnell, Regional
Great Lakes Region
American Friends Service

4. Rev. Catiana McKay, Pastor
United Church of Rogers Park
Chair, Commission of Christian
Unity and Interreligious Concerns
Northern Illinois Conference
United Methodist Church
Chicago, IL

5. Elizabeth Mertic, Member
Lake Forest Friends Meeting

6. Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid
Council of Islamic Organizations
of Greater Chicago

7. Pauline M. Coffman, Ed.D.
Member, Middle East Task Force
of Chicago Presbytery
Oak Park, IL

8. Joyce M. Cassel
Principal, Chicago Mennonite
Learning Center

9. Newland F. Smith, 3rd
Church Network for Education
on Palestine,
Episcopal Diocese of Chicago
Peace and Justice Working Group

10. Delbert M. Leppke
Working Group on the Middle
Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America (ELCA), Metro Chicago

11. Rev. Harold Vogelaar, Ph.D.
Former Director: Center of
Christian-Muslim Engagement for
Peace and Justice
The Lutheran School of Theology
at Chicago

12. Rev. Susan B.W. Johnson
Hyde Park Union Church
Chicago, IL

13. The Rev. Andrea C. White, Ph.D.
The University of Chicago
Divinity School
Minister of Adult Religious
The University of Chicago
Rockefeller Memorial Chapel

14. The Rev. Rich Landers
Hyde Park Union Church
Chicago, IL

15. Rev. Robert V. Thompson
Lake Street Church of Evanston

16. The Rev. George V. Hudgins, III
Pastor, Community Church of

17. Rev. Dr. M.L. Codman-Wilson
Sr. Pastor, Christ Community
Church of Wheaton

18. Dieter R. Schulte
Member, Working Group on the
Middle East
Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America, Metro Chicago Synod

19. Pam Edelmann Sall, Ebenezer
Lutheran Church
Middle East Working Group of
the Metropolitan Chicago Synod
of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America

20. Rev. Phil Yetter, Pastor
First Baptist Church of Berwyn
Berwyn, IL

21. Mary E. Anderson
Church Women United
Barrington, IL

22. Lynn Pollack
Member, Jewish Voice for Peace
Evanston, IL

23. Rev. Don Wagner
Center for Middle Eastern Studies,
North Park University
Chicago, IL

24. Rev. Paul G. Palmer
Pastor Emeritus
Community Presbyterian Church
Mount Prospect, IL

25. Rev. Dr. Sid L. Mohn

26. Martha Reese
Member, First United Church of
Oak Park (PCUSA/UCC), Middle
East Task Force of Chicago
River Forest, IL

27. Rev. Carol McVetty
Northshore Baptist Church
Chicago, IL

28. The Rev. Jeffrey Doane
Pastor, Lincoln Park Presbyterian
Chicago, IL

29. Rev. Jean Marie Duran
Living Lord Lutheran Church,
Bartlett, IL

30. The Rev. Kara Wagner Sherer
St. John’s Episcopal Church
Chicago, IL

31. Tom Cordaro
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of
Pax Christi Illinois

32. Edgar Hiestand
Ecumenical/Interreligious Office
North Illinois Conference United
Methodist Church
Oak Park, IL

33. Rev Beth Freese Dammers
Pastor, Presbyterian Church
First United Church of Oak Park
Oak Park, IL

33A. Orlando Redekopp
Pastor, First Church of the
Chicago, IL

34. Bob Selby, Chair
Ministry for Peace and Justice
HOPE United Church of Christ
Naperville, IL

35. Rev. Paul A. Hottinger
Naperville, IL

36. The Rev Alan L. Streyffeler
Ordained clergyman of the United
Methodist Church
Naperville, IL

37. Joan Ehrenberg
Unity Lutheran Church, Chicago
and the ELCA Metro-Chicago
Synod Working Group on the
Middle East

38. Yali Amit
Member, KAM Isaiah Israel

39. Lynn Kendall

40. Rev. Said Ailabouni
Barrington, IL

41. David W. Doudt
Chaplain, Provena St. Joseph
Hospital, Elgin

42. Duane Mevis
Wesley United Methodist Church
Naperville, IL

43. Working Group on the Middle
Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America, Metro Chicago Synod

44. John Lengle and Donna Lengle
Members, Highland Avenue
Church of the Brethren
Elgin, IL

45. Rev. Calvin S. Morris, Ph.D.
Community Renewal Society
Chicago, Il

46. Jennifer Bing-Canar
National Director, Middle East
Peacebuilding Program, AFSC
Chicago, Il

47. Bernard F. Reilly, Clerk
Peace and Social Concerns
Evanston Friends Meeting

48. Jesse Bacon
Steering Committee Member –
Jewish Voice for Peace - Chicago
Chicago, IL

50. Judith McAtee
Member, Western Springs
Presbyterian Church
Western Springs, IL

51. David Boris
Board Member, North Suburban
Peace Initiative

52. Rev. David Bebb Jones
Convener of the Middle East Task
Force of the Presbytery

53. Caren Levy-Van Slyke
Member, Committee for a Just
Peace in Israel and Palestine

54. Joy Reis, member, Jewish Voice
for Peace-Chicago

55. Rabbi Roy Furman
Religious Studies Department
DePaul University
Chicago, IL

56. Rabbi Brant Rosen
Evanston, IL

57. Dr. Lauren Langman
Member, Tikkun-Chicago

58 . Mary Sotir
Member, St. Athanasius Peace and
Justice Ministry
Evanston, IL

59. Rev. Daniel Dale
Wellington United Church of
Chicago, IL

60. Rebekah Levin
Member Secular Jewish
Community and School of Oak

61. Rev. Paul S. Allen
Pastor Emeritus, Winnetka
Congregational Church

62. Thomas L. Garlitz
Catholic Diocese of Joliet Peace
and Social Justice Ministry

63. Rev. Dr. Jane Fisler Hoffman,
IL Conference, United Church of

64. Reverend Christopher L. Pierson
Director of Connectional
Ministries, Northern Illinois
Conference of the United
Methodist Church
Elgin, IL

65. Mary Knightwright
United Methodist Deacon
Aurora, IL

66. The Rev Stephen H. Swanson
Pastor St. Paul Lutheran Church
Villa Park, IL

67. Archpriest Nicholas Dahdal, Dean
1220 S. 60th Court
St. George Antiochian Orthodox

68. Rev. Fr. Mousa Haddad
Church of the Virgin Mary
Alsip, IL

69. Pastor John Stoltzfus
Lombard Mennonite Church
Lombard, IL

70. Rev. Dr. Pamela R. Lightsey, PhD
Dean of Students
Garrett-Evangelical Theological
Evanston, IL

71. Connie Baker
President, Church Network for
Education on Palestine
Elmhurst, IL

72. Breeze Richardson
Clerk, on behalf of the 57th St.
Meeting of Friends
Chicago, IL

73. Rev. Grayson Van Camp
Parish Associate, the Presbyterian
Church of Western Springs
[email protected]

74. Ahmed Rehab
Executive Director, Council on
American Islamic Relations –

75. Dr. Mohammed Krad
President, Prayer Center of
Orland Park, IL

76. Fr. Robert H. Oldershaw,
Pastor Emeritus,
St. Nicholas Catholic Church

77. Sr. Dorothy Pagosa
8th Day Center for Justice
Chicago, IL

78. Miryam Rashid
Middle East Program Director
American Friends Service
Committee - Chicago