Prayerful biblical reflections marked the end of the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel (WWPPI) in a service on 29 September at the Ecumenical Centre chapel in Geneva, Switzerland. Prayers for justice and peace in Palestine, Israel and the Middle East, as well as plight of prisoners unjustly detained in Israeli jails remained focus of the service.
The WWPPI is an initiative of the World Council of Churches (WCC) inviting its member churches, faith-based communities and civil society to join in advocacy and action to end to the illegal occupation of Palestine, calling for a “just peace” for all in Palestine and Israel.
The WWPPI, observed from 21 to 27 September, this year addressed the theme “Let my people go!” drawing attention to the situation of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails and Palestinians living under military occupation seeking liberation and dignity.
Ralston Deffenbaugh, assistant general secretary for international affairs and human rights at the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), offered the meditation at the service. He reflected on the WWPPI theme with several biblical references, especially from the Old Testament.
In the Hebrew scriptures, Deffenbaugh said, “are a great sign of hope amidst the Israel Palestine conflict, because they are full of prophetic calls for justice.” He invited participants to continue praying for “peace in Palestine and Israel, justice for all the people, and for release of the captives and recovery of the sight of the blind.”
In his reflections, Deffenbaugh also referenced the text from Peace-ing Together Jerusalem - a WCC publication by Dr Clare Amos, WCC's programme executive for inter-religious dialogue and cooperation.
Parts of the message from the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit were shared at the service. “This year’s WWPPI focus on prisoners thus points us to one of the enduring aspects of Israel’s ongoing military occupation of Palestine: the detention, arrest, and imprisonment of so many Palestinians,” reads the message.
“This has been a terrible year for both Palestinians and Israelis. Fighting between the Israeli military and various Palestinian groups in Gaza filled global headlines for the month of August. The WCC had raised its voice, expressing grave concern that lack of success in negotiations would lead to both new settlement expansions in the West Bank and to escalations of violence,” Tveit said.
The service was attended by members of ecumenical organizations based in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva. The service was led by Rev. Rebecca Ruggaber of the LWF, while Marta Spangler from the LWF shared prayers from the WWPPI liturgical material.