C038 Safeguard the Rights of Palestinian Children and C035 Due Process for Palestinian Children in Israeli Military Courts [C038 is church policy.]
Hello my name is Jennifer Bing and I work for the American Friends Service Committee in Chicago where our offices are located at Grace Episcopal Church.
I know many of you are mothers and fathers, grandparents, aunts and uncles of young children. When you hear about Palestinian children being awakened in the middle of the night, hand tied and blindfolded and taken away by Israeli soldiers, I know you share my moral outrage.
When you hear that children are physically abused on the way to detention centers, held in solitary confinement, coerced into signing confessions in a language they don’t understand, without a lawyer present, I know you share my moral outrage.
When you hear that Palestinian children are then taken into military courts, with a conviction rate of nearly 99%, and sentenced to detention centers where family and friends cannot visit due to checkpoints, I know you share my moral outrage.
You know that military detention is no way to treat a child.
Many child and human rights organizations agree with you. UNICEF, Human Rights Watch, Defense for Children International Palestine, Amnesty International, B’Tselem – all these groups and more have well documented the systemic and widespread abuse of Palestinian children by the Israeli military.
Members of Congress agree with you too. US Rep Betty McCollum introduced a bill this year that asks the US State Department to certify that US funding is never used to support the ill treatment of Palestinian children detained by Israeli forces from the occupied West Bank.
30 members of Congress have signed onto this bill sending an important message that Americans will not be silent when it comes to the rights of Palestinian children.
As I Quaker, I do love silence and silent worship. But now is not the time for us to be silent. I urge you to support Resolution C035, calling for due process for Palestinian children in Israeli military courts.
C017 A Just Peace in the Holy Land [No further action taken as other resolutions were considered to cover this subject matter.]
I am Tura Cook, a Jewish member of the Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights in Austin TX. I am very pleased that Resolution C017 “A Just Peace in the Holy Land” advocates divestment from companies profiting from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. From my experience on the board of a non-profit practicing socially responsible investing, I know that divestment does not sacrifice returns for your organization and pensioners. Our investment returns routinely outperformed the S&P 500. And investments aligned with values give moral power to your messaging.
I quote from the Statement in your packet from the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council: “Some will try to paint this issue as one of whether or not you support the Jewish community, and therefore Israeli policy … There are many different opinions among Jews about the best solutions. …A growing movement of US and international Jews see non-violent economic pressure on the state of Israel as an important instrument of justice. … There is absolutely nothing antisemitic about supporting these positions. The essence of Jewish religious tradition is to act for justice and the Episcopal Church would align with the best of Jewish teachings in acting on its ethical and social obligations to do business in a way that makes this world more peaceful and just.”
D018 Negotiating the Israeli Palestinian Conflict [This resolution is now church policy.]
Good morning. My name is Haithem El-Zabri and I’m a member of the Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights, here in Austin. I’m a Palestinian; my family is from Jenin in the Occupied West Bank.
My father came to the United States in 1961 for his studies. In 1964, he went back home, married my Mom, and then they returned here to continue their studies. In 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank, they became refugees, not allowed to return to our home in Jenin.
The right of return is an inalienable human right as enshrined by international law and stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There are approximately 8 million Palestinians scattered in the diaspora today, denied this basic right. I’m a lucky one, living here in the United States and not in a refugee camp. But I want to go home. It is my right and every refugee’s human right. It is what my sisters and brothers in Gaza are marching to demand, and being met by violent force enabled by US support.
Every day that this right is denied to us is a day of injustice. All we are asking for is our right to live in peace and dignity in our homeland, in equality with all those who inhabit it.
Resolution D018 reaffirms my people’s right to self-determination. This, and all the related resolutions, point towards justice, peace and equality. Today, you have the opportunity to support these values and to support an oppressed people’s human rights, including my right to go home. I hope you will. Thank you.
B016 Adopt ELCA Action on Israel/Palestine [This resolution is now church policy.]
Good morning. My name is Dale Loepp and I’m a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a visitor here at the General Convention.
As someone who worked a very long time on this particular resolution within my own church, the ELCA, I can honestly say that there are MANY Lutherans who are THRILLED today that our closest communion partner has chosen to take up this same resolution.
Prior to 2016, our church had been extremely reluctant to pass resolutions similar to this one. Yet, in 2016 an overwhelming number of our voting members, over 80%, chose to implement this very human rights investment screen that we are discussing here today. So, why this very dramatic shift in the thinking of the ELCA?
1Our church has realized more and more that profiting from the suffering of others is inconsistent with the life and teachings of Jesus.
2The situation in Palestine is simply not what it was ten or even five years ago. The rapid acceleration of human rights violations pushed us to act immediately and to begin the process of ending our church’s complicity in these abuses.
3This resolution passed with the passion and support of the young people who were voting members at our assembly. In addition, many other young people who have served in our sister Lutheran churches in Palestine, impactfully testified to their firsthand experience of human rights abuses facilitated directly by US corporations.
Overall, Implementing this resolution has been a healthy and productive experience for the ELCA and has encouraged us to study more deeply the many intersections between human rights declarations and the teachings of Christ.
I strongly urge the Episcopal Church to join us and overwhelmingly pass this resolution.
B018 A Resolution for Reconciliation & Engagement in the Holy Land [No further action was taken at the recommendation of the committee.]
Gary Commins, a former deputy to General Convention spoke in opposition to this resolution.
This resolution says it is about reconciliation, but you can’t have reconciliation when there is an imbalance of power. You can’t have reconciliation between the Parkland students and the leaders of the NRA. You can’t have reconciliation between black voters and the people who are attacking their right to vote. You can’t have reconciliation between immigrant families in detention and the Attorney General of the United States. You can’t have reconciliation when one side controls the checkpoints, the laws, the rules, and the weapons.
This resolution is an opioid. If we pass it, we might feel as if we have said something or done something but all we will have done is self-medicate.
D041 Protecting Jerusalem [Parts of this resolution were incorporated in B003 On the Status of Jerusalem.]
My name is Cliff Cutler, I’m an Episcopal priest from the Diocese of Pennsylvania. I support Resolution D41, “Protecting Jerusalem.”
The Sunday after President Trump announced he would move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, I told my congregation this was a matter of Bible and theology. Christian Zionists who number over 4 million voters represent a significant portion of President Trump’s base. The capture of Jerusalem by Israel in 1967 and its recognition as Israel’s undivided capital with a future rebuilt Temple all serve to herald for Christian Zionists Christ’s Second Coming. The U.S. Ambassador to Israel one week after the opening of the Embassy in Jerusalem was given by a right-wing Israeli a doctored aerial photo of the city with the Third Temple replacing the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Years ago after dinner in a Palestinian home, friends of theirs came over. One asked, “Do Christians believe that the Temple must be rebuilt in Jerusalem?” I said, “No. The Second Coming is not about a rebuilt Temple, but a rebuilt world.
If one is unmindful of the present and attends only to a future end time marked by a returned Christ’s imperial rule, one is wrong on the Bible and misunderstands God. Ethics disappears and the suffering of Palestinians is collateral damage. We believe in partnering with God to transform the world. May Jerusalem be forever a city of peace for all people. Be good news.
D041 Protecting Jerusalem
My name is Steve France, from Washington, DC. I support Resolution D41, “Protecting Jerusalem.”
Jerusalem is known as the City of Peace. All three Abrahamic faiths venerate it as the place where God’s Peace has been revealed and where God’s peace must have a home. Our Church is there working tirelessly among families of all faiths. Holy Jerusalem is a unique reality of “living stones.” They have overcome many assaults of power lust, hatred and strife.
But today they’re struggling. Our Church voiced their fears last Christmas, crying out that moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and giving Israel sole sovereignty “will lead to a very dark reality.” A taste of the darkness came when the Embassy was moved May 14 and scores of unarmed demonstrators were slaughtered in Gaza.
The Episcopal Church will certainly reaffirm its position that such action violates international law, ignores Palestinian rights and incites conflict. After all, we’ve held that position for decades.
Let us speak strongly. But let us also ask: Who will listen? Who will hear? Who will even know the Episcopal Church has spoken? Will it make any difference?
To be brutally honest, there’s little reason to think so, unless – Unless the Episcopal Church speaks directly to faithful Episcopalians in their churches, explaining Jerusalem’s unique importance to their faith, and the duty the Episcopal Church has to protect “the Peace of Jerusalem.” The way to do that is with a pastoral letter, which D41 prescribes.
Without such follow-up you may be just spitting into the wind.
B019 Impact Investing for Palestine [No further action taken.]
Kareem El-Hosseiny: Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you directly. Please forgive me for my nervousness, but I was raised on the principle to always speak the truth even if your voice shakes. I’m here to ask you to reject B019. For Palestinians, There is no free movement of labor. Israel controls the external economic relations for the west bank and Gaza. Gaza, which has been under a brutal and inhumane blockade by land, air, and sea since 2007. Yet viewing Gaza as a heart-wrenching humanitarian catastrophe worthy of charity neglects the reality that this undeniably cruel collective punishment of 2 million Palestinians has been carefully engineered by Israel. The Israeli administration responsible for overseeing the blockade of Gaza even considered using caloric measures to weigh how many truck loads of food should be allowed in. The explicit goal was to regulate the import of food down to the exact number of calories needed to avoid starvation and no more. Palestinians don’t need pity, they need solidarity. It does not matter how much money you throw at the Palestinians if you do not take a hard and clear stance against their oppression at the hands of their occupier. Financially supporting the companies that benefit from the occupation of Palestine is a perfect example of toxic charity. Without a deliberate moral compass to guide the church’s financial decisions, how can the church claim to definitely stand for justice?