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2019 news stories and opportunities for action,
from and for the Palestine Portal community.
World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel (WWPPI) 2019
15-22 September 2019: Christian global awareness week offers resources that churches can use in September and throughout the year.
The theme for the WWPPI 2019 is: “Humanity and equality in God’s creation.” Organized by the World Council of Churches, each year during the week that includes the International Day of Peace (21 September), churches, related organizations, congregations, and people of faith are encouraged to participate in worship services, educational events, and acts of support for a just and sustainable peace for both Palestinians and Israelis.
This year’s theme has been chosen to challenge racism, xenophobia, stigmatization, exclusion driven by populist policies and other growing trends. The aim is to inspire and revive concern for the human dignity of all people equally, regardless of ethnic, religious or political differences, and the struggle for the realization of the equal and inalienable human rights of all.
“The theme has a special immediacy in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the unfulfilled search for sustainable peace based on the recognition of the inalienable human rights of all people in the region,” says WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit. Get details and resources
⚠️ ACTION ALERT:
CPT: Urgent call for reservists and interns
Are you being called to engage in peacemaking?
SEE THE CALL
Israel continues to ban human rights observers from Palestine, and Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is committed to maintaining our presence with our partners in al-Khalil/Hebron. We request interns and Reservists to join the Palestine team ASAP!
• Presence on the team is requested by August 25
• Both trained CPTers and interns are welcome Airfare and costs on the ground covered by CPT, with a three month commitment.
Interested? Contact Mona el-Zuhairi immediately email@example.com.
ELCA Assembly 2019
Adopts four actions on Israel/Palestine on: human rights investment screen, Palestinian children in military detention, political action for humanitarian aid, and more
SEE THIS NEWS
On August 6, 2019, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran in America (ELCA) approved four Assembly Actions related to Israel and Palestine by a vote of 96%. The Assembly Actions deal with:
1. Asking Portico (the ELCA’s investment arm) to continue the work of implementing the church investment screen passed in 2016, for justice in Israel/Palestine
2. Supporting justice for Palestinian children detained and abused by Israel
3. Supporting Augusta Victoria Hospital and other Palestinian supportive services through direct political pressure to support humanitarian aide and to change “anti-terrorism laws that defund Palestinian aid.
4. Encouraging members to learn more about and engage more deeply with church partners in Palestine and to continue to listen to various perspectives on the conflict. Learn more about these church actions
⚠️ ACTION ALERT:
Support education and travel for seminarians to learn about Palestinian human rights!
SEE MORE ON THIS ACTION
UUJME has long sought to educate and engage UU seminarians on the issue of Palestinian human rights—the opportunity to do so is now at hand! A course entitled “Ethical Witness: Decolonizing Travel to the Holy Land” is being planned at the Starr King School for the Ministry (SKSM) for the Spring 2020 semester.
The course will be taught by SKSM Alumna Faryn Borella, MA in Social Change and 2018 Hilda Mason Fellowship Award Recipient. Last fall, Borella taught “Jewish Theology of Liberation” at Starr King, and she has had extensive experience in Palestine/Israel. She is currently pursuing rabbinical ordination with the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.
This course will include a nine-day delegation to Palestine/Israel. UUJME enthusiastically supports this educational opportunity for seminarians from Starr King and other UU seminaries. We are initiating a campaign to raise $9000 for six $1500 scholarships to allow seminarians to participate by covering the students’ in-country expenses. WE HAVE BEEN BLESSED BY A GENEROUS BENEFACTOR WHO HAS AGREED TO MATCH ALL DONATIONS FOR THIS PURPOSE! See the ways you can contribute here
Faith leaders ‘take it to the streets;’ disrupt VP Pence during CUFI Summit
SEE THIS NEWS
On July 8, 2018, over 100 faith leaders and community organizers protested Christians United for Israel (CUFI) during its annual summit, held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. The group led direct actions, including sit-ins outside the center while 21 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faith leaders staged disruptions of the opening plenary session featuring CUFI founder John Hagee, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. Read the full report and the video
Related story in Haaretz: “Trump Rolls Out the Big Guns for pro-Israel Evangelicals’ Confab Ahead of 2020 Read it
World Council of Churches to UN: Demolitions in Wadi-Al-Hummus “catastrophe for community”
WCC letter and statements to United Nations leaders on widespread and rising destruction and violence by Israel.
SEE THIS NEWS
The World Council of Churches (WCC) Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel is reporting that nine homes in Wadi-Al-Hummus have been demolished, with at least two families forcibly removed from their home, as observed by Ecumenical Accompaniers on site. Over 100 families were removed altogether and prior to the demolitions.
At the 41st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, held in Geneva on 24 June to12 July, WCC delivered a statement calling on the government of Israel to cease demolishing Palestinian homes and structures. In Wadi-Al-Hummus in southeast Jerusalem, 16 large buildings which are home to 500 Palestinian people were given demolition orders with a request to self-demolish by 18 July. Over two hundred people have already been displaced in East Jerusalem this year. Read the full report
WCC writes to United Nations’ leaders
8 August 2019 – WCC writes to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territory, saying that rising human rights violations in West Bank and East Jerusalem must stop. Ecumenical Accompaniers on the ground have witnessed frequent and systematic human rights violations and acts of violence. See the WCC report Read the full text of the letter
Methodist Delegation Sees ‘Bitter Fruits’ of Palestinian Occupation
Representatives from three Methodist bodies express horror at Israeli military occupation.
July 2019 – After a visit to the region, a delegation of Methodist representatives expressed horror at the military occupation of the Palestinian people.
“We witnessed the bitter fruits of military occupation that have fallen disproportionally upon
the Palestinian people,” said a statement of the delegation, which was made up of leaders of the World Methodist Council, the British Methodist Church, and the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church.
“We heard stories of families being separated, the denial of basic human rights, inequality of treatment, and the need for the Palestinian people to have a voice in the process of governing their own lives and future.”
The group’s visit marked the seventh anniversary of the opening of the Methodist Liaison Office in Jerusalem, jointly sponsored by the three organizations. The delegation visited with individuals, churches and partners. Their goal was to further the office’s mission of engaging the world Methodist family in Christ’s ministry of peace, truth, justice and mercy among all peoples living in the land, in partnership with the Palestinian Christian Community. See their full statement
UUA Assembly 2019
Adopt resolution to “Support Our First Amendment Right to Boycott”
Palestinian Christians in legal battle with radical settlers
Israeli Supreme Court rules on sale of church-owned property in Jerusalem’s Christian Quarter, issues eviction order to Palestinian hotel manager.
• Greek Orthodox Patriarchate: “a strike to the indigenous Christian presence in the Holy City”
• Christian leaders in Palestine protest sale of property to settlers
SEE THIS NEWS
Officials from Israel’s supreme court served an eviction notice at the New Imperial Hotel,
following a ruling last month that the disputed 2005 sale of the historic 40-room hotel to a radical settler group was valid.
The notice followed a court ruling in July 2019 that the disputed 2005 sale of the historic 40-room hotel to a radical settler group was valid. The Jewish settlers’ organization Ateret Cohanim then branded the longtime Palestinian manager of the hotel “a squatter” and threatened to seize the building. Such a move would establish a strategically valuable settler presence just inside Jaffa Gate, the main entrance to the ancient city’s Christian Quarter.
The current showdown is the culmination of a lengthy court wrangle dating back to a suspect secret sale of Greek Orthodox-owned properties to settlers, authorised by a now deposed Greek Patriarchate. Three properties were involved: the New Imperial Hotel and the Petra Hotel, both in the Jaffa Gate plaza, and a house in the Muslim Quarter. Read the full article at The Guardian
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem releases statement on Jaffa Gate
On 5 August, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem released a statement in relation to the properties of Jaffa Gate. “The Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem views the attempts of the radical organization, Ateret Cohanim, to seize church properties located in Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate and al-Mu’athamiyah, as a strike to the indigenous Christian presence in the Holy City,” the statement reads. “The Patriarchate affirms that changing the Status Quo in the Old City of Jerusalem, especially in Jaffa Gate; being the main entrance to the various Patriarchates and to the pilgrim route to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, threatens the continuous hundreds-of-years old mosaic and balance that shores the good relations between Jerusalemites of different faiths.” Read the full report from the WCC
Christian leaders protest sale of Jerusalem church properties to Jewish group
Read it at The Times of Israel Settler group strengthens grip on Jerusalem
Read it at The Electronic Intifada Heads of Jerusalem Churches hold prayer rally in protest of Jaffa Gate properties case
Read the report from the Latin Patriarchate Jerusalem’s Christian Leaders Blast Decision to Sell Old City Properties to Settler Group
Read it at Haaretz Israeli court approves settler group purchase of controversial Jerusalem properties
Read it at Middle East Eye
US and Palestinian Christians meet; affirm what would make peace
Ecumenical gathering addresses damaging steps by Trump Administration, including Bahrain economic workshop, and commits to united actions.
SEE THIS NEWS
June 2019 – This special consultation was hosted by Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) and Bright Stars of Bethlehem and convened in cooperation with the National Council of Churches (NCC), World Council of Churches (WCC), and the Diyar Consortium. Building on previous gatherings at the Carter Center in Atlanta, in Washington, DC and in Houston, US and Palestinian Christians addressed the current context in Israel/Palestine, the US-sponsored economic workshop in Bahrain, and the elements necessary to reach a just and lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians. Read the full report
UCC PIN Statement
“The Kairos Moment Now: Toward a Human Rights Approach to a Just Peace in Palestine”
This declaration by the United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network (UCC PIN), without specifically naming the 2005 BDS call from Palestinian society, affirms all three goals cited in that call: freedom from occupation, full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees. The statement declares: “the United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network believes that the reality of Israel’s apartheid state, now fully exposed by the Nation State Law, requires use of the legal and analytical framework of apartheid if decolonization, genuine self-determination and full equality are to be actualized.
UCC PIN challenges their denomination to “strengthen our commitment to live into our past General Synod resolutions with greater diligence and follow through” and specifies actions of “economic leverage – boycotting products made in Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements, divesting from corporations profiting from the Occupation, and encouraging US sanctions against Israel – in order to pressure Israel to comply with international law.”
They also call on the 2019 General Synod to adopt the resolution “Addressing Global Forced Migration,” which the Synod subsequently did, and recommend that their denomination “not advocate for any one particular solution, whether two-state or one-state or something else….our attention and work should stay centered on the defense of human rights and on international humanitarian law.” Download the statement
UCC General Synod 2019
Resolution on “Global Forced Migration” highlights Palestinian refugees, funding UNRWA
SEE THIS NEWS
6 July 2019 – This report draws from the text of the resolution that was submitted to the 2019 General Synod, which had some minor amendments before it was passed, the final version not yet having been posted online. We will update this report as needed when the final version is available.
In June 2019, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ (UCC) adopted the resolution ”Addressing the State of Global Forced Migration” which had been submitted the UCC Board.
Along with refugees in Latin America, Syria and Iraq, southern Asia. and other troubled regions, the resolution specifically mentions “Generations of Palestinian refugees displaced and dispossessed of their homes and 124 property following the wars of 1948 and 1967, in the Middle East and beyond.” It urges church members to act through “advocacy for the rights of refugees everywhere based on the Convention Relating to the 158 Status of Refugees (1951); and for Palestinian refugees specifically as stipulated in UN 159 General Assembly Resolution 194 (1948), and for continued US funding for the United 160 Nations Relief and Works Agency.”
The Summary included in this resolution:
This resolution draws the church’s attention to the broad scope of unprecedented and massive displacement worldwide, including the variety of causes, the impact on human beings, and the responses of partners in the US and around the world, along with underlying attitudes of racism, xenophobia, and bigotry in the debates and discourse. It calls the United Church of Christ to continue to pray and learn about the current state of global migration, to take actions related to US policy, and to support global and domestic partners engaged in response; and it affirms our rejection of attitudes, discourse, and actions that discriminate based on any aspect of identity. See the UCC ReportDownload the resolution
The Bahrain Conference and Trump/Kushner “Deal of the Century”
Statements from the Palestine Portal community:
• Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace (PCAP: “The Palestinian people will not be bribed into submission.”
• Christians for Middle East Peace (CMEP): Kushner’s Foreign Investment Plan Is No Substitute for Palestinian Freedom
• American Muslims for Palestine (AMP): Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan Isn’t a Plan & Won’t Lead to Peace
SEE THIS NEWS
June 2019 – The Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace (PCAP) has issued a strong statement on the U.S. “economic workshop” in Bahrain in June, the overture in Trump’s so-called “Deal of the Century” to bring peace to Israel/Palestine. Besides rejecting the blatant attempt at bribery, PCAP also says: “The Trump Administration is putting the cart before the horse because no economic assistance program can ever succeed if the Palestinian people do not have their right to govern themselves in a full sovereign nation with all its institutions.” See the statement
• Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) also issued a statement regarding the Bahrain Economic Workshop convened by the United States: “If the Trump administration is serious about improving the lives of Palestinians, it can begin by restoring the aid that it cut to the Palestinian people and applying pressure on Israel until it grants Palestinians their freedom and rights.” See the statement
• In their statement about the Bahrain Economic Workshop, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) says: “Expectedly, this peace plan, which some critics have argued resembles a “real estate developer’s brochure,” fails to address the core causes of Palestinian suffering and instead aims to bribe them into total capitulation.” “In this tone-deaf plan and attempt to bribe the Palestinian people into submission—using unguaranteed Arab Gulf money—Trump’s team proves once more its willingness to protect Israel at all costs and without having to foot the bill.” See the statement
German Parliament says BDS movement is anti-Semitic
Parliamentary resolution, comparing BDS to actions of the Nazi era, is condemned by Palestinian Christians and every sector of Palestinian society.
SEE THIS NEWS
May 2019 – The German parliament has passed a resolution that denounces the BDS movement for Palestinian human rights as anti-Semitic and associates it with boycott actions during Germany’s Nazi era. It has generated a firestorm of response from Palestinians and human rights defenders. Kairos Palestine urges the Bundestag to reverse the resolution and asks: “What other avenue would our German brothers and sisters ask us to take in order to overcome this historic injustice…?” • See the BDS National Committee release • For more on this story, see the report from UMKR, with all statements from Palestinians and others, and op-eds.
McCollum Bill Back in Congress, Stronger than Ever!
Landmark bill would stop US funding for military abuse of children; supported by millions of Christians.
SEE THIS NEWS
April 30, 2019 – Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) has introduced H.R. 2407, the “Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act,” a groundbreaking bill that prohibits U.S. taxpayer’s dollars being spent for the military detention of children in any country, including Israel/Palestine. This bill would amend the existing Leahy Law, which is part of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act; it seeks to promote children’s human rights by ensuring that U.S. financial aid to Israel is not used to support the widespread and institutionalized abuse of Palestinian children who are detained by Israeli forces and prosecuted in Israeli military courts. UPDATE, AUGUST, 2019:This landmark bill for Palestinian human rights now has 21 Co-sponsors! See them here
• Read the political analysis by Josh Ruebner
• See the report on churches’ support for HR 2407
• Learn more about the bill and get resources with No Way to Treat A Child
• See the Endorsing Organizations
⚠️ ACTION ALERT:
Support the historic bill for Palestinian human rights: HR 2407!
SEE THE ALERT
• TAKE ACTION: This bill is the first of its kind in the U.S. Congress, an exciting opportunity for our legislators to stand up for Palestinian rights, and it needs all our support. Amplify the call to end U.S. funding for Israeli detention and abuse of children by writing to your Representative in the House today! Send a message now
• MORE ACTION: Take a stand yourself by endorsing HR 2407 as a Citizen Co-sponsor!
Global Kairos Petition
Delivered to Israeli Embassies and Consulates across the US; coordinated actions for Nakba Day 2019
SEE THIS NEWS
May 15, 2019 – On the 71st anniversary of the Nakba, the catastrophe of Palestinian exile and ethnic cleansing, a multi-faith delegation from around the Washington metro area gathered outside the Embassy of Israel to present the Global Kairos for Justice International petition to the government of Israel. The call for freedom and human rights was signed by over 3200 individuals and organizations from 51 countries. Today’s delivery was linked to similar global events simultaneously commemorating the Nakba with actions at government buildings, embassies and consulates, as well as conferences and marches.Read more of this report
• See all the actions FOSNA organized at Israeli embassies and consulates in the US
• Read and SIGN the Global Kairos Petition, from Kairos Palestine and its global partners
Do No Harm! Palestinian Society Calls to all Tourists and Religious Pilgrims
SEE THIS NEWS
Palestinian civil society calls on all international visitors, especially pilgrims, and people of conscience to do no harm to our nonviolent struggle for our rights under international law by respecting our ethical tourism guidelines.
• Do not visit historical/religious/touristic sites…that are illegally run by the Israeli occupation authorities…
• Avoid products and services provided by Israeli or international companies that are complicit in Israel’s human rights violations…
• Pressure online tourism companies, such as Booking.com, Airbnb, Expedia and TripAdvisor…to stop operating in or promoting visits to illegal Israeli settlements…
• Boycott all LGBTQIA+ events organized by or in cooperation with the Israeli government or complicit Israeli institutions…
• Avoid any travel itinerary to present-day Israel or illegal Israeli settlements…
• Increase visits in solidarity with the Palestinian and Syrian people as well as independent… SEE THEIR CALL • More on Responsible Tourism on Palestine Portal • Upcoming Trips
Every week, Christians around the world join in prayer with Palestinian Christians, through the Wave of Prayer from the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem. Below are recent prayers as well as news bites from Sabeel: use the scroll bar to see more of them and click on any item, to read more at Sabeel’s website.