News stories in recent months and opportunities for action, from and for the Palestine Portal community. (See previous news stories here. Previous action alerts are here.)
A diktat on behalf of Israel: Faith leaders and organizations stand up to the U.S. Plan for “Peace to Prosperity”
Last week the United States issued its much-vaunted “Deal of the Century,” titled “Peace to Prosperity.” Faith leaders and organizations in Palestine, the U.S. and across the world responded immediately with outrage and protest. “An insult to history, humanity, the Palestinian people, and the American dignity itself” reads the statement from Kairos Palestine. The Palestine Israel Network of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship puts it well: “This plan is not a peace agreement or even a reasonably framed blueprint for a peace agreement: Palestinians themselves have had no say in its design, and there has been no negotiation between sides. The plan is rather a diktat imposed unilaterally by the United States on behalf of Israel to further Israel’s illegal consolidation of permanent control over all the territory of Palestine, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.” See opposition from Palestinian Christians, and Christian, Jewish, and Muslim groups and denominations.
SEE THE STATEMENTS
Kairos Palestine (the movement of Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land): “Today we ask churches and Christians across the globe to stand up in the face of injustice against
the Palestinian people and demand their countries to reject categorically the so-called ‘deal of the century’, reiterating that neither peace nor justice can prevail unless justice is fulfilled, occupation is ended, and Palestinians are granted their full rights.” See their full statement
Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace: “There can never be a just and lasting peace agreement without securing the freedom of the Palestinian people. To that end, we call upon our fellow Americans to reject the Trump Administration’s ‘Charade of the Century,’ and call for applying real accountability on Israel, by conditioning U.S. military aid to Israel on Israel ending the occupation See more
World Council of Churches: “This proposal was developed without meaningful participation by representatives of the Palestinian people, and primarily in line with long-stated Israeli objectives. It constitutes an ultimatum, rather than a real, sustainable or just solution. No just peace can be established for either Palestinians or Israelis with such a plan….WCC urges members of the international community not to support this proposal or to recognize its implementation unless and until a better plan has been negotiated and agreed with representatives of the Palestinian people and in compliance with the principles of international law….See more
Joint Call from Quakers in UK, Sabeel-Kairos UK, and partners: “The UK has repeatedly stated that annexation of part of the West Bank “would be contrary to international law, damaging to peace efforts and could not pass unchallenged.” Now is the time for the UK to outline what form such a challenge would take, and how it will work with other states to support the Palestinian people to attain their fundamental right to self-determination.” See more
Canadian Friends of Sabeel: “With no Palestinians present in the room, President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu unveiled the plan, which:
– Legalizes all Israeli settlements, annexing them indefinitely for the Israeli state
– Organizes Palestinians into “bantustans” – drawing further parallels between Apartheid Israel and Apartheid South Africa
– Declares Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel
– Annexes the Jordan Valley
– Denies Palestinians the right of return
– Demands the demilitarization of the entire future Palestinian state See their email
American Muslims for Palestine: “The outlines of this plan are a recipe for more bloodshed, prolonging suffering in the Holy Land and across the Middle East. This is not a recipe for peace. The Trump administration in essence has embraced the stringent ideological positions and policies of Israel’s extreme right, acting as a conduit to channel these policies rather than policies based on human rights and international law,” stated Osama Abuirshaid, Executive Director of American Muslims for Palestine.
Therefore, this plan is dead on arrival. No Palestinian leader can accept it. And if any does, the Palestinian people will not, as it liquidates their rights that are enshrined by human rights and international law.” See more
Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network, Australia: “The final instalment of the so called ‘Deal of the Century’ has been unveiled. The Peace to Prosperity, 181 page document has drawn world wide criticism and derision. Once again we see President Trump overriding international law to present this unilateral plan. It was telling that Netanyahu stood at the President’s side as Trump revealed the plan and has vowed to immediately implement the recommendations if reelected in the next Israeli elections.” See their email
Lutheran World Federation: “Peace can never be unilaterally imposed,” write LWF president Archbishop Panti Filibus Musa and LWF General Secretary Rev Dr Martin Junge in a statement released on 29 January. “The plan ignores fundamental principles of international law and human rights conventions, as well as numerous UN General Assembly and UN Security Council resolutions, setting a dangerous precedent for the future.” See more
Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA): “I am very dismayed and disturbed by President Trump’s announcement of a “peace plan” that, I fear, will bring greater insecurity for Israelis and Palestinians instead of peace….Rather than drawing together Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peace accord, the effect of this plan will be further alienation and, I am afraid, more tension, with the possibility of new, violent responses. This path will not lead to peace with justice. It will not promote reconciliation. But it will reinforce extremists in Israel, in Palestine and throughout the
region, decreasing security for everyone.” See more
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church USA: “This “deal” is little more than a cynical rephrasing of the conditions that have kept the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation for decades. It codifies Israel’s egregious theft of Palestinian land and would continue Israel’s military rule, even over the areas allocated to the so-called Palestinian state. It lacks any evidence of a true willingness to include the interests of the Palestinian community.” See more
Joint Statement, United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ: “…our responsible response is one of grave concern. We do not read the 181-page proposal as either realistic or just. We fear for its devastatingly deleterious effects on Palestinian rights, for its implications for international law and institutions, and for the possible consequences on the people living in an already untenable circumstance. We do not see God’s justice in it.” See more
Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN), Presbyterian Church USA: “There should be no surprise at the injustice of what has been proclaimed the “ultimate peace plan” for Palestine and Israel. For those who have paid attention, this is nothing new; it is simply the same old offer to share an ever-shrinking piece of power and opportunity, to a Palestinian community decimated already by ethnic cleansing. The plan is a house that the US has helped build over the last 50 years of Israeli military occupation….It is a patriarchal attitude which holds that those who win, those who have the power, get to decide what is left for those who have no clout, and even then, that those people should be grateful to have any remainders.” See more
Jewish Voice for Peace: “Rabbi Alissa Wise, Acting co-Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said: “This is in no way a peace plan – it’s an apartheid plan. It’s a distraction ploy by two warmongerers who are prioritizing their personal election campaigns over any semblance of statecraft. International law, global consensus and decades of U.S. policy concur that Palestinian land isn’t for Trump to give away nor for Netanyahu to steal….” See more
Episcopal Peace Fellowship: Palestine Israel Network: “As an organization dedicated to working for true justice and peace for both Palestinians and Israelis, emphasizing political and human rights for Palestinians, the Palestine Israel Network of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF/PIN) condemns virtually every aspect of the US plan for resolving the Palestine-Israel conflict issued by President Trump on January 28, 2020. This plan should be of paramount interest to members of the Episcopal Church, for the Church has lent ardent support to the parish, educational, healthcare, and hospitality ministries of the Diocese of Jerusalem for many years….Our baptismal covenant to seek justice for all peoples compels us to speak out on what is at stake.” See more
Executive Director, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP): “The proposed plan would further entrench the Israeli security establishment, ensuring that generations of Israeli young men and women will serve in a military tasked with continuing control of the Palestinian people. The inevitable result will be more human rights abuses, trauma, and violence.
This cannot stand.
In addition, as Christians, we must not stand by and let our faith be perverted. It is clear that Christian values are being weaponized in an attempt to give a veneer of moral legitimacy to a plan that is, in fact, meant to facilitate further Israeli control over Palestinian lives, land, and resources.
The use of Judeo and Christian religious and spiritual imagery to justify political aims and agendas is idolatry. See more
⚠️ ACTION ALERT: No to Christian Support for the “Deal of the Century”
Kairos Palestine 10th Anniversary Conference and Sabeel International Gathering
29 November-7 December – The two premier Christian organizations in Palestine held their annual events back-to-back this year, creating a memorable experience for some 350 international supporters. We have the Kairos Palestine Conference Statement and 10th anniversary video, plus excellent reports from the UK, the US, and Australia.
“They will run and not grow weary” Kairos Palestine 10th Anniversary Conference Statement & Call to Action EXCERPTS: Meeting in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, we are over 350 persons— women and men, young and old, lay and clergy, Palestinians and friends from all over the world—reaching out to the Church on the Tenth Anniversary of Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth.
Since the launch of “A Moment of Truth” ten years ago, life in Palestine has rapidly deteriorated under the illegal occupation by the State of Israel. The oppression is more aggressive and brutal.
….We are experiencing the continued dispossession of our land, our freedom and our human rights. ….While there have been strong, prophetic responses from the global Church….
For the most part, the global Church is failing us.
We are standing as if on the edge of a cliff, looking into an abyss.
….So, like those who stand watch upon the tower, we repeat our call and cry out again for your solidarity, your earnest prayers and your commitment to take action. Stand up and speak out in your own setting to insist on a just peace:
• Vigorously defend the rights of Palestinians…[and] all forms of creative and non-violent resistance including BDS….
• Recognize Israel as an apartheid state in terms of international law….
• …include the occupation and injustices in Palestine and Israel as part of any interfaith dialogue;
• …lead campaigns for church leaders and pilgrims to visit Bethlehem and other Palestinian communities in partnership with the Palestinian tourism sector… See the statement and call to action
A Video from Kairos Palestine: Ten Years of Prophetic Voice (6 mins) Presenting the movement that grew from the Kairos Palestine Document, the meaning of this Kairos moment, some that has been accomplished in the last 10 years, and Palestinian Chrisitan leaders young and old. See the video on Facebook; Like and Share it!
Reflections from Palestine
By Charlotte Marshall, United Kingdom
….It is difficult to see how I might summarise the next 9 days, and all of the rich, diverse, human, political, social, and religious topics covered in both conferences. The Kairos Palestine 10th Anniversary was both a celebration and a lament. So much achieved by Kairos Palestine, and all of the global Kairos movements around the world standing in solidarity with them. One of the most poignant moments for me was to see the current Kairos team handing over the Kairos movement to the younger generation – symbolised by passing on a lit candle. At the same time, we lamented the lack of response by many of the global churches to the Kairos call for justice, and the on-going deterioration of the situation in Palestine. This year in particular has seen several catastrophic developments….
….Kairos for Global Justice began a few years ago, and was the advent of a coordinated effort to gather the various global Kairos networks together, to plan joint actions, campaigns, and theological reflections, and consider how we might both support and resource one another. Since its inception we have gathered each year to create an action plan….
….what inspired me the most from our discussions this year at the conference was the idea of calling the global Church into ‘Status Confessionis’ regarding the situation in Palestine. Most well-known through the work of Bonhoeffer and his call to the German Church during Nazi rule, it literally means to call the Church to a ‘state of confessing,’ where there is a dire situation in which the church must stand up for the integrity of the gospel and the authority of the God it confesses.
….Following the Kairos Conference was Sabeel’s first international Gathering – a new format designed to work in partnership with many organisations in Palestine, to bring participants the most up-to-date analysis. Read the full report
MFSA Advent Devotion Week 4
By Bridget Cabrera, United States
Executive Director, MFSA (Methodist Federation for Social Action)
Over Thanksgiving and the whole first week of December, I had the opportunity to attend the 10th Anniversary of the Kairos Document and the International Sabeel Conference in Bethlehem, Palestine….
This was not my first time in the area; I had been twice before, but it had been nearly ten years since my last trip. I wish I could say that life there seemed better than before or that there has been progress made toward peace. Unfortunately, life on the ground is worse. One example is the checkpoints….
It is hard not to notice the rise of religious extremism, white supremacy, racism, capitalism, colonialism, and nationalism happening all over the world in addition to the rise in Christian Zionism….The use of religion to justify oppression is a manipulation of faith. Faith has always been held and developed by the marginalized and oppressed. For it to be used by the powerful to oppress the marginalized is in direct opposition to the Gospel.
Many people travel here to the Holy land to connect more with God by walking in the land where Jesus walked. As always I didn’t see God in the building or the stone, nor did I see God in the historic sites. Frankly, the commercialization of the holy sites being a booming business is offputting. Where did I see God? In the eyes and the stories of the Palestinian people. A people living under oppression with no end in sight but who somehow continue to have hope and continue to work for justice. See the report
PIEN Quarterly – December 2019 Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network, Australia This edition of the e-quarterly focuses on the recent gatherings in Palestine.
It also includes a video message from Rev. Naim Ateek, founder of Sabeel.
….The Conference was spent reflecting and evaluating on the past 10 years by looking at the historical, political and ecumenical changes that have occurred during this time. Despairingly the feedback was that the situation has only got worse, made more so with the installation of the Trump administration and the various announcements and blatant support for Israel that has ensued.
The Palestinian leaders commented that they and the global network need to review the way we work, to simplify the message and have clear objectives and practical actions. It was suggested that the Kairos document could be refashioned in a condensed form with a revived look and format including videos, podcasts etc. to capture the attention of the younger generation.
They lamented that on the whole, church hierarchy in Palestine, for various reasons, have not fully endorsed or supported the Kairos document. This lack of support is something Kairos Palestine plans to address more directly with the church hierarchy in an effort for these Palestinian churches to then speak up and engage the wider global church community.
Sabeel held its first International Gathering under a new format from previous times. The Conference was held in partnership with other organisations in Palestine and showcased their work as well as providing analysis and information on the current situation in Palestine. Along
with lecture style presentations, participants were taken on field trips to Churches, institutions and organisations both in Bethlehem and Jerusalem and were also treated to some excellent cultural activities….
The climax to the 5 day Conference was visiting Dar Al-Kalima University to watch amazing short films and to sample the culinary delights of their students. Rev Dr Mitri Raheb ended with a brilliant bible reflection on the Myth of the Christmas Story. Palestinian Theologians have a unique way of expounding on the biblical text that bring out the cultural and political context so aptly. See more in this e-newsletter
Archbishop Justin, you need some new Jewish friends
An open letter from Robert Cohen to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby Cohen’s letter to the Archbishop provides an excellent analysis of how the charge of anti-Semitism was weaponized in the recent election in England. The parallels to similar patterns in the U.S. are clear. Photo: Robert Cohen is one of the leading dissident Jewish voices on Israel-Palestine in Britain; he spent ten years as a reporter and producer for BBC news. See his powerful letter
U.S. Reverses Decades-long Policy on Israeli Settlements, Says “not inconsistent with international law.”
World powers reject and rebuke US position. Faith communities respond with shock and sadness, call on US government to change course and return to leadership for peace
SEE STATEMENTS in the Palestine Portal Community
FAITH GROUP STATEMENTS AND OTHERS IN THE PORTAL COMMUNITY:
Kairos Palestine: “In the same way that the Lord instructed the Prophet Elijah to intervene and confront the king, Kairos Palestine asks its partners—people of faith and those of good will—to call on leaders of the U.S. government to reexamine its failed role as a facilitator of peace between Israel and Palestinians.” Read more American Friends Service Committee (AFSC): “This move by the U.S. opens the door for Israel to formally annex significant portions of the West Bank….This is very clearly a situation of apartheid where two separate systems of law exist for Palestinians and Israelis living in the same geographic location under complete Israeli control.” See the Facebook post IPMN, Presbyterian Church USA: “…the actions of the Trump administration and their disregard for international law ‘are only likely to intensify the dispossession and oppression caused by the settlements and escalate an already tragic situation.’ This breach of international law and global accord is an affront to all who seek a just and peaceful resolution in Israel and Palestine.” See more Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church USA: “The announcement…is abhorrent as well as foolish….It violates the fundamental right of people to own, tend, and hold their land, and forbids encroachment and occupation by other hostile entities.” Read more Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church: “U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, announced Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territories are not illegal. The United Methodist Church asserts the building of settlements are illegal according to the Fourth Geneva Convention. #Palestine#UMC”See the tweet United Methodists for Kairos Response: “United Methodist leaders and members appalled by Trump administration’s disregard for Palestinians’ human rights and acceptance of the crime of colonialism….The global Christian denomination’s opposition to Israeli settlements dates as far back as the UMC General Conference of 1976. See more United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ: “The basic human and legal rights of Palestinians living under occupation, blockade, and as refugees remain ignored and dismissed….We express our strong opposition to the US Administration’s series of policy shifts that undermine legitimate Palestinian claims and rights.” Read more Churches for Middle East Peace: “If the United States truly wants to be a constructive broker of peace, government officials must stop making unilateral decisions in favor of Israel while relegating the Palestinians to an afterthought.” See more Quakers in Britain: “Our Quaker commitment to peace and equality compels us to speak out about the US government’s statement….We believe the announcement is an irresponsible move, which seriously undermines prospects for peace in the region.” Read more American Muslims for Palestine: “…another callous measure by this administration to unilaterally take Palestinian rights “off the table” in negotiations with Israel. First, it was Jerusalem then the right of return, and now what is left of Palestinian land in the West Bank….Palestinian inalienable rights, which are stipulated in international law and UN binding resolutions, will never vanish and go away by the mere fact of their bias in favor of Israel.” Read more Jewish Voice for Peace: “The Trump administration was never focused on promoting peace, but instead on propping up Netanyahu’s and Trump’s careers and perpetuating Israeli control over Palestinians. Pompeo and the Trump administration don’t get to rewrite international law.” See more The Jerusalem Fund: “The US Stance on Israeli Settlements: But perhaps the most outrageous reaction to this news was, unsurprisingly, from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He said that the US announcement was a huge achievement that “rights a historical wrong.” The level of deception, hypocrisy, and arrogance here is truly remarkable. Imagine a thief feeling persecuted and playing the victim when criticized for stealing someone else’s property. This is exactly what Netanyahu is doing, and what the state of Israel has done for decades.” Read more
Letter from over 100 members of the House of Representatives to the Secretary of State: “In ignoring international law, this administration has undermined America’s moral standing and sent a dangerous message to those who do not share our values: human rights and international law, which have governed the international order and protected U.S. troops and civilians since 1949, no longer apply. If the U.S. unilaterally abandons international and human rights law, we can only expect a more chaotic and brutal twenty-first century for Americans and our allies, including the Israeli people.” Download the full letter with signatures
SEEA ROUNDUP OF NEWS & ANALYSIS
• In Shift, U.S. Says Israeli Settlements in West Bank Do Not Violate International Law NY Times
• Trump administration says Israel’s West Banksettlements do not violate international law Washington Post
• U.N. Security Council Members Rebuke U.S. Softened Stance on Israel’s West Bank Settlements Time Magazine • Canada reverses UN stance on Palestinians in break with U.S. over settlements Canadian Broadcasting Corp • EU says Israeli settlement on Palestinian territory is illegal Reuters
• Tom Suarez: Trump’s elixir could prove to be an overdose for Israel Mondoweiss • Trump’s Backing of Israeli Settlements Gives U.S. Evangelicals Another Gift Ahead of 2020 Election Haaretz
• International law is clear on one point: Israel’s settlements are illegal,by Richard Falk, International Legal Scholar, Former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Palestinian Territories Midde East Eye • The latest shot in the Trump administration’s war on Palestinian rights,by Hanan Ashrawi, PLO Executive Committee and Palestinian Legislative Washington Post • ‘Orwellian absurdity’: US reversal on settlements draws international outrage Mondoweiss • Trump is systematically ending the viability of a future Palestinian state The Guardian • New U.S. Stance on Israeli Settlements Is Akin to ‘Thou Shalt Murder’ by Gideon Levy Haaretz
• Pompeo declaration should be a wake up call to liberal Zionists Mondoweiss
• Are West Bank Settlements Illegal? Who Decides? NY Times
Episcopal Church Bars Investments in Companies Profiting from Israeli Occupation, Will Divest of Several Companies’ Stocks
SEE THIS NEWS
This week, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church adopted a human rights investment screen related to Israel and Palestine and will sell its holdings in Motorola Solutions, Caterpillar, Inc., and the Israel Discount Bank.
This is the latest step in response to a July 2018 General Convention Resolution (B016) which committed the Episcopal Church to a similar process taken by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America two years earlier. The action also follows steps previously taken by the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ. READ MORE
Palestinian BDS National Committee: “Join the Global Climate Strike. Oppose Israel’s climate apartheid”
Tell multinational corporations to stop investing in fossil fuels and in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people.
We’re joining the Global Climate Strike, demanding an end to fossil fuel use, climate justice for all, and government action at the UN Climate Summit.
The increasingly catastrophic climate crisis, fueled by global inequality, has been engineered by complicit corporations and governments that put profit before people and planet.
The least powerful are the most affected by the climate crisis. With no control over their land or natural resources, indigenous Palestinians under Israel’s repressive regime endure climate apartheid.
Multinational corporations invest in fossil fuels and in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian
people, pillage of Palestinian natural resources, and exploitation of Palestinian land.
Take Two Actions Now:
1. CLICK HERE (to tweet) – Tell UK bank HSBC to stop financing Israeli repression and the fossil fuel industry.
2. CLICK HERE (to tweet) – Tell French insurance giant AXA to divest from Israel’s colonial regime
and from fossil fuels destroying the planet
Water, air, and soil pollution caused by Israel’s blockade of and wars on Gaza poison life there. In the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, Israel steals Palestinian land and water, and destroys hundred-year-old olive trees and solar energy installations.
Israel works to “greenwash” its image. Yet Israel is developing major gas fields for export, and 97.7% of its electricity production comes from fossil fuels. Warfare, a regular activity of Israel’s government, is also one of the world’s most polluting industries.
The struggles against racism and militarization, and for climate, economic and social justice are profoundly interconnected. Join climate week actions in your area, and take action to end Israel’s climate apartheid against Palestinians. See this call at the BDS Movement website
Straining Out a Gnat but Swallowing a Camel: Rev. Alex Awad dispels myths about current conditions for Palestinian Christians
ISRAEL’S APOLOGISTS never seem to tire of pointing a finger of accusation at the Palestinian Authority (PA) with allegations that the PA persecutes Palestinian Christians. Hence, they say, the decline of the indigenous Christian population in the Palestinian territories.
Jesus had words to describe such accusers: “You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23:24 NIV.) The camel in the room is the occupation, and Israel’s apologists want to shift blame from the massive crimes of the occupation to place the PA in the defendant’s seat….
….Regrettably, many of these accusations are generated by the Israeli Ministry of (mis)Information and then handed to Christian Zionists who stand ready and eager to receive these accusations and use them to smear the reputation of the PA without checking the facts. Here are facts that any decent researcher can investigate and verify:…. Read the article on Palestine Portal
Preparing for 2020: Advocating for Justice for Palestine and beyond – Alice Rothchild reviews the AFSC Summit in D.C.
SEE THIS STORY
The American Friends Service Committee conference in DC, September 7-8, Preparing for 2020: Advocating for Rights, Justice, and Freedom, was an excellent antidote to the stormy and frightening times in which we live. It is a measure of our failure to be more outraged than we already are that Netanyahu’s pledge to annex much of the West Bank to Israel (as if there was not already one apartheid state) barely caused a flutter of protest.
Between Trump and Netanyahu we are all suffering from shock fatigue and a good dose of gloom about the future of the planet. I lie awake at night wondering, will it be forest fires, drought, floods, and wars over water, or maybe an old fashioned nuclear war that will finish us off. For folks with children and grandchildren, this is not a theoretical concern.
But there I was sitting in the calming simplicity of a Quaker meeting room at the Sidwell Friends School, listening and talking with a wide range of activists, organizers, and policy experts, and brainstorming about grassroots advocacy, at town hall meetings, primary caucuses, and party conventions. The positive energy, humor, honesty, and commitment were infectious and uplifting.
Palestine Through the Eyes of Children, from the UMC Peace with Justice Director, Mark Harrison
September 2019 – IMAGINE Children created in God’s image, boys and girls in Palestine experience violence, conflict and trauma every day.
Imagine these little ones — whom Jesus called and welcomed (Matthew 19:14) — not allowed to travel freely in their own homeland and beyond.
Imagine their every movement restricted and crossing checkpoints and walls to get to school. Worse, imagine their schools being demolished or funding cut off.
Imagine these tender souls denied access to health care services and left tortured.
Imagine them losing a beloved one — a father, a mother, a sister, a brother or friend.
Imagine them as victims of war and conflict, traumatized with every bullet and bomb.
Imagine these children arrested and detained in military court, denied access to basic freedoms and rights. Read more
⚠️ ACTION ALERT:
United Methodist Board: “Tell Congress: Support the rights of children in Palestine”
SEE THIS ACTION
“Allow the children to come to me,” Jesus said, “Don’t forbid them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children.” (Matthew 19:14)
The United Methodist commitment for the rights and protections of children is steadfast. In 1908, the United Methodist Social Creed called for the abolition of child labor.
Today, we continue to call for the full protection and rights of the most vulnerable, especially children (Book of Discipline, ¶162C).
Sadly, however, the day-to-day realities for children in Palestine is marked by violence, conflict, and trauma. They are routinely discriminated against, arrested and detained in military court, and denied access to basic freedoms and rights. Since 2000, more than 10,000 Palestinian children have been subject to the Israeli military court system.
Multiple sources, including UNICEF and the U.S. State Department, have reported the Israeli military’s regular use of force and violence upon detainees as well as a lack of fundamental fair trial rights.
There is no exemption for children.
Recently, H.Res. 2407, the “Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act,” has been offered by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.). The bill aims to promote human rights for Palestinian children living under Israeli military occupation and requires that U.S. funds do not support military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children. Click here to contact Congress
22 US church leaders write to Trump, condemn Israeli threats to annex West Bank
SEE THIS STORY
On the heels of the Israeli election and with the US Administration preparing to release the political component of its purported Peace Plan for Israel/Palestine, 22 Christian leaders, including Churches for Middle East Peace Executive Director, Rev Dr Mae Elise Cannon, wrote to the President outlining their recommendations for US policies that would help bring about a just and lasting end to the conflict in Israel-Palestine.
The letter comes shortly after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign promise to officially annex Area C as well all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, a move that would codify a policy of displacement utilised throughout over fifty years of Israeli military occupation. Such a unilateral move will irrevocably damage prospects for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Churches for Middle East Peace strongly condemns annexation of any Palestinian land. Annexation of even part of the West Bank would be a disaster for both Israelis and Palestinians. Read more; See the full letter to Trump and signers
Presbyterian Church Writes to Congress: “Support HR 496: the Right to Boycott”
SEE THIS STORY
The Presbyterian Church (USA) has sent a letter to the House of Representatives today urging support for H.Res. 496. The resolution led by Reps. Ilhan Omar, John Lewis, and Rashida Tlaib, affirms Americans’ right to boycott.
As reported by Presbyterian News Service, the Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, Director of the Office of Public Witness, issued an Action Alert on September 6th urging Presbyterians to support the right to boycott in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad.
Win Without War, who also signed the letter as one of 40 organizations, stated today:
“This resolution is the first measure of its kind recognizing the historical importance of boycotts in advancing human rights and justice both at home and abroad. From the economic boycotts of apartheid South Africa to the Montgomery Bus boycotts against racial segregation, boycotts are a time honored tool of political expression and social change that Congress should be defending – rather than seeking to criminalize this constitutionally-protected exercise of political beliefs it does not agree with. Read more from IPMN
Christians in Palestine Speak to “Hard Hearts” – statement on home demolitions, rising in 2018 and 2019
Kairos Palestine’s statement on House Demolitions Perpetrated by the Israeli Occupation Authorities – EXCERPTS
We are aware of the fact that we are addressing people with a hard heart, when it comes to the demolition of Palestinian houses. Hearts as hard as their bulldozers that demolish constructed Palestinian houses, resulting in the displacement of thousands of people and depriving them from a home. Their main goal is to compel Palestinians to go away, in every possible way. Houses’ demolitions are one way. Our only sin is that we are in our houses and our land. Their real wish for us is not to exist.
We address the state of Israel with a genuine word of truth: It is God’s law that preserves and protects, but laws of demolition can only lead to the demolition of the lawmaker himself. Israelis should always remember that they are the creation of God, and that Palestinians are the creation of God too. In order to guarantee their security, future and survival, Israeli’s must deal with Palestinians on the basis of the God-given equality and dignity. See the full statement
“God is on the side of rejected, oppressed, occupied” – Interview with Palestinian Rev. Dr. Saïd Ailabouni of ELCA’s Middle East desk
SEE THIS STORY
September 2019 – Born in Nazareth, Galilee, Rev. Dr Saïd Ailabouni moved to the US at the age of 19 to become a physician.
But he was so angry at God that he went to study theology instead, becoming a Lutheran pastor. Now he is leading the Middle East & Europe desk of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Since leaving his hometown 50 years ago, he visits his Palestinian family regularly. As the World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel approaches, Ailabouni agreed to share some of his lifetime observations with the Word Council of Churches. READ MORE
For Netanyahu and Trump, Palestinian Christians are only pawns for political gain
Father Emmanuelle Awwad, parish priest of the West Bank village of Abboud, writes from Palestine: “We are an integral part of the Palestinian people, yet we are virtually invisible for those in the White House who claim to care about Christianity.”
When Israel barred Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from visiting Palestine last week, it was a clear attempt to keep the congresswomen from witnessing the impacts of military occupation for themselves. This decision, however, also revealed the extent to which the very leaders who claim to care about Christians in the Middle East are willing to weaponize religion. Read more at +972 Magazine
⚠️ ACTION ALERT:
CHRISTIAN PEACEMAKERS: Urgent call for reservists and interns
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.
Evangelical Lutherans’ Assembly 2019 Adopts Four Actions on Israel/Palestine
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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 addressed the denomination’s human rights investment screen, Palestinian children in military detention, political action for humanitarian aid, and more.
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
Faith leaders ‘take it to the streets;’ disrupt VP Pence during CUFI Summit
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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 FOSNA’s full report and the video
See these reports from EPF PIN members:
• Randy Heyn-Lamb
• Newland Smith • Related story in Haaretz: “Trump Rolls Out the Big Guns for pro-Israel Evangelicals’ Confab Ahead of 2020 Read it
Methodist Delegation Sees ‘Bitter Fruits’ of Palestinian Occupation, expresses horror at Israeli 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
Unitarian Unversalist Assembly 2019 Supports First Amendment Right to Boycott
Jerusalem from the Lens of a Native Son — Ghettoization and Pauperization
Philip Farah reports on changes he found in hometown during summer visit
August 2019 – Last month, I participated in an Eyewitness Palestine delegation of 22 Americans. Over a 10-day period, our intensive tour took us to cities and villages all over Palestine/Israel. We met with over 22 groups involved in various forms of resistance to Israeli domination. Our home base was Jerusalem, the city where I was born and spent the first 27 years of my life before emigrating to the U.S. in 1978.
East Jerusalem had been—overall– a very pleasant city to live before the Israeli occupation of 1967. It was a small city of about 65,000 people, but with strong connections to nearby suburbs and villages. It was the main transportation hub for all the West Bank, and hence a major commercial center. Its status as the home of al-Aqsa Mosques and the Holy Sepulcher has always made it the center of life of all Palestinians— physically for its inhabitants, and spiritually or culturally for all Palestinians. Because of its spiritual importance, it has also always been a far more cosmopolitan place than most cities of its size anywhere in the world.
This was the Jerusalem of my childhood and youth….
….Today, only the Gaza Strip and the so-called H2 section of the Palestinian city of Hebron surpass East Jerusalem in the sense of strangulation that the Palestinians feel under Israeli domination. Read the full article
Palestinian Christians in legal battle with radical settlers over property in Jerusalem’s Christian Quarter
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Israeli Supreme Court has upheld the sale of church-owned property in Jerusalem’s Christian Quarter and issued an eviction order to Palestinian hotel manager. Christian Palestinian leaders have been protesting the sale of property to extremist Israeli settlers. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate says it is “a strike to the indigenous Christian presence in the Holy City.”
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
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.” • Churches 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
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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
McCollum Bill Back in Congress, Supported by Millions of Christians: Landmark Bill to Stop U.S. Funding for Military Abuse of Children
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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
• 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 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!
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.
The UN just named the companies that are doing business in Israeli illegal settlements -- and it includes Airbnb and Expedia! Join the global campaign to stop travel giants renting out rooms in Palestine's stolen land https://fb.avaaz.org/campaign/en/free_palestine_001/?wZQjiab
Kairos Palestine asks all Christians to stand against sham Trump peace plan: "The money offered to Palestinians is but a slap of insult to every Palestinian and to humanity as a whole....Jerusalem is not a good for sale, Palestinians are not for sale."https://kairospalestine.ps/index.php/resources/statements/the-american-declaration-on-peace-in-the-middle-east-made-on-28-1-020
.@fosnalive and @Black4Palestine invite you to answer a Black church call to end Israeli apartheid! Sign their statement today to support a growing movement of Black Christians for justice in Palestine! http://www.fosna.org/blackchurchaction
Excellent article on the crisis for Palestinian Christians - the three clarion calls they have made: 2009 Kairos Palestine, 2017 "no shallow solidarity" and Dec. 2019 "looking into the abyss." See it: Christianity Meltdown in Its Own Birthplace? https://ahtribune.com/world/north-africa-south-west-asia/palestine/3772-christianity-meltdown.html