D038 Civil Rights and Equality for All in Israel [The House of Bishops declined to concur on this resolution]
My name is Marcelle and I am from Bethlehem in Palestine. As a Palestinian Christian, I often feel forgotten by my international Christian family. Please visit our beautiful historic and ancient stones and visit us, the living stones.
One caution – if you come to see us, you may feel overwhelmed and hopeless, but you will also see and know that despite all the challenges, hardships, and animosity, we continue to survive and live in our ancestral land. We are a people of great resilience.
I almost didn’t make it into this world. On Good Friday in 1991, as my mother and grandmother were walking back from Church service, Israeli soldiers shot teargas at my pregnant mother. Luckily, we both survived. This is significant because a few years earlier, episodes of tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers caused by aunt to lose three pregnancies. No pregnant woman should have to live in constant fear of losing their unborn baby to tear gas. This is not an ethnical nor a normal way of life.
Palestinians in Israel live under constant challenges and restrictions imposed by the Israeli military and government. These range from restrictions on travel, marriage, water availability, land ownership, and even educational opportunities.
In 2003, Israel passed a law banning family reunification for Israeli citizens who are Palestinians. This means that a Palestinian Israeli citizen cannot live with their Palestinian spouse from the West Bank or Gaza. I have a family member who has Israeli citizenship and lives in Haifa. He fell in love with a Palestinian from Bethlehem. According to Israel’s discriminatory law (which was renewed in 2016), they are unable to live in the same house in Israel. They have now emigrated to Canada. Having to choose between the person you love and having the opportunity to live in your homeland is a terrible choice. I have several Palestinian Christian friends who are currently fighting in the Israeli court for the right to live with their spouse. What kind of world is this, where you need to censor who you fall in love with and marry? What if this was your son or daughter? Do you have the heart to tell them that because their spouse doesn’t have the same driver’s license as they do, they cannot, by law, be together?
As a Palestinian Christian from Bethlehem, I am not allowed to marry a Palestinian Christian Israeli citizen from Nazareth. If this was in Jesus’ time, what would Mary and Joseph do?
Please support Palestinian Israeli citizens to marry whomever they want and to have equality. Please support D038 civil rights and equality for all in Israel.
D028 Freedom of Speech and the Right to Boycott [the House of Deputies rejected this resolution.]
Good morning, my name is Alex Kirreh and I’m a Palestinian Christian. My roots with the Episcopalian church run very deep, my parents were actually married in St George’s church in Jerusalem by reverend Naim Ateek. For decades, the Episcopalian Church has given my family both literal and figurative refuge. Literally, when my grandparents’ home was bombed and they were forced to flee along with 750,000 other Palestinians in what is now known as the Nakba, the Episcopalian church gave them food and shelter. Figuratively speaking, the Episcopalian church gave my family refuge from the mental and emotional anguish that is innate to living under a brutal military occupation. I’m also very proud to be speaking here because this church has stood in solidarity with human rights movements for years. In the 1960’s, the Episcopalian church honored and mourned martyrs of the civil rights movement. In the 1970’s, the church supported homosexuality when it was not only taboo to talk about, but criminalized to engage in. Now, in 2018, we have a new human rights movement; that is, the suppression of Palestinian voices and those who support our plight at a local, state, and federal level through anti-BDS legislation. This issue is especially pertinent to me, seeing as though I just graduated high school & fear that because of this legislation, my university will eliminate organizations that aim to give Palestinians such as myself a platform to be openly and unapologetically Palestinian. In conclusion, I implore the Episcopal Church to support resolution D028 not only to show solidarity with the Palestinian people, but to uphold the integrity and history of the church in its support for human rights and freedom. Thank you.
B019 Impact Investing for Palestine [No further action taken on the committee’s recommendation]
My name is Anna Baltzer and I am a Jewish American speaking against B019, not because I oppose investment, but because B019 positions investment in Palestinian infrastructure as a substitute for divesting from the violence of Israel’s occupation.
Palestinian Christians have spoken clearly asking for a basic moral obligation to do no harm — to stop investing in and profiting from their misery.
Charity has an important place, but the Church sending money to rebuild Palestinian homes while the Church continues to invest in their destruction is neither effective nor moral.
I’d like to read a quote from Alex Awad, a teacher at Bethlehem Bible College:
“We are not asking for charity. We are asking for freedom. We are smart, educated, God-loving people. We are perfectly capable of building up our own economy, but it is impossible as long as the occupation destroys everything we build. Investing without divesting is like trying to improve our prison. We are asking you, as Christians, to help liberate us from our prison.”
This resolution’s explanation ends with a quotation from Palestinian businessman Zahi Khouri. Yet Khouri himself is a critic of investment without divestment. In his own words, simple investment “gives the appearance of positive movement while distracting from the real issues…. [It] offers economic crumbs in an effort to normalize and better manage the occupation.”
I know divestment is controversial — like all justice issues once were. It is easy to say today that we are against Jim Crow and slavery. What about when they were divisive? Would we have stood up when it counted most? Prophetic faith always requires courage.
Do not be intimidated. There is nothing Jewish about military occupation; and there is nothing anti-Jewish about ending your church’s involvement in it. Jewish opinions are changing quickly. You have to follow your own conscience.
Let us not say that on the day when Palestinian Christians cried out for justice from the Episcopal Church, they were given money instead. If you truly want to help the Palestinian people, I urge you to listen to what they are asking for.