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A speech by Bishop George Browning
Anglican Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn

outside the Israeli Embassy, Canberra, 1 May 2004

I come as a Christian leader to this place today to be one in solidarity with my Jewish and Islamic brothers and sisters against any form of harassment, intimidation or injustice perpetrated against any of us. If there is any anti-Semitism, I wish to stand with my Jewish sisters and brothers to condemn it. If there is anti-Islamic sentiment, I wish to be present with my Islamic brothers and sisters in protest against it.

It is in this spirit that I am here today to speak as strongly as I am able to in protest against policies that are intimidating, harassing and unjustly treating a whole nation of people - the Palestinian people.

The Palestinians are not without blame; without reserve, I condemn the slaughter of innocent Israeli blood by suicide bombers. This barbarous behaviour is morally bankrupt. But, when a people are treated as less than human, when a people are harassed and intimidated beyond all justifiable limits, when the divine candle of hope is snuffed out, we should not be surprised by some people's extreme responses.

If people fight for their freedom with their own bodies against another people who have great strength of armament, including weapons of mass destruction, supported by the acquiescence of the strongest nation on earth, the cause is not equal.

I also condemn the systematic slaughter and deprivation acted out against a whole people. The deliberate and sustained diminution of all that is Palestinian is morally indefensible.

  • To summarily execute other people's leaders (and many innocent bystanders) is against the beliefs of our three religions. It is indefensible.
  • To cut off water from the homes of people whom the Bible describes as the sojourner or neighbour, is outrageous.
  • To build a wall on territory that the international community acknowledges as belonging to others, is a crime.
  • To lock people away in suffocating density, unmatched anywhere else on earth, is spitting in God's face.
  • To decide for the future of others without allowing them to be part of the conversation is to be judge, jury and executioner.

The present political boundaries of the Middle East are an artificial construct of the West. For good or ill they are now a given. However, history will treat the West and the United States in particular with contempt, in as much as we continue to morally and financially support such terrible injustice within these boundaries.

My faith demands of me that I do to others, as I would have them do to me.

My faith also tells me that greatness in the eyes of God will be determined upon the basis of how I treat the least of those who cross my path.

My faith in these respects is no different to that of my Jewish and Islamic brothers and sisters.

I do not wish to stand in front of you, or behind you, but with you. Only in this way will God's gift of peace be possible in this broken world that God comes to redeem. It is a peace that will only come with justice, it is a peace that we must seek together.

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