PINontheGo: EPF PIN Acts for Justice in 2021
9 December 2021
Let’s face facts. EPF’s Palestine Israel Network is a small organization with limited resources. And we are still testing our vocal strength when calling The Episcopal Church to speak and act prophetically against injustice in Israel & Palestine or the ways we and our government sustain structures of oppression.
But that picture may be changing. In last week’s PIN on the Go! we reported details of three dioceses, Olympia, Vermont and Chicago, which had recently approved resolutions calling out the unequal treatment afforded Palestinian citizens of Israel as well as residents of occupied east Jerusalem, the west bank of the Jordan River, and the besieged Gaza Strip. Two of those dioceses followed the human rights organizations B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch, in using the “A” word, apartheid, to describe current Israeli governance “from the river to the sea”. In each diocese, members or friends of EPF PIN were in the vanguard seeing these resolutions passed.
An article by EPF PIN member Steve France, covered much the same territory for Mondoweiss, and hinted of similar resolutions to come in late January when the Diocese of Washington (DC) meets in convention.
There are other ways PIN is seeking to amplify its voice in the Episcopal community, to other ecumenical PINs, and on the (inter)national stage. One way is to endorse the actions of larger and better-known and -funded partners, adding our organizational name and reputation to actions they are sponsoring.
Why are endorsements important? Endorsing the actions of like-minded groups strengthens our bonds for a common purpose. Endorsement encourages those who benefit from the action to know they are not alone in their struggle for justice. And endorsements, especially when offered by multiple organizations, add weight to a request or demand to an elected official.
Requests for endorsement are handled by the PIN Communications with Allies and Friends workgroup. For obvious reasons, this moniker usually gets abbreviated to “the CAF”. The CAF is one of three workgroups, including Education and Local Organizing, where the bulk of PIN’s work is done.
CAF members receive requests for endorsement, either directly from the sponsoring organization or by referral from a PIN member. The request is reviewed for scope, relevance to our mission, and consistency with our values. If the CAF finds the action appropriate, the Convenor forwards an endorsement recommendation to the Steering Committee and signs on behalf of the PIN.
Once PIN endorses another group’s initiative, we publish our support for it on our website, in email communications like this one, and on our Facebook page. If we had additional volunteer support, we would love to expand our presence on Twitter and Instagram. Since this process was established earlier this year, PIN has endorsed more than a dozen actions by other organizations.
Here is a partial list of the resolutions, actions, requests and demands EPF PIN has endorsed in 2021…
In March, a PIN Steering Committee member suggested we join 40 organizations in a letter opposing a series of anti-boycott bills before the NY State Legislature. If enacted, these laws would stifle and punish boycott as a constitutionally protected form of speech. Sadly, at the 2018 Episcopal General Convention in Austin, the House of Deputies defeated a resolution which affirmed your right to boycott! PIN, on the other hand, supports you right to call for nonviolent social change in Israel and Palestine and will support another resolution next year in Baltimore.
In April 2021 we took the opportunity to demonstrate some intersectional love by joining the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights’ call to oppose the further militarization of police. State-sanctioned violence is a problem in black and brown communities of the US as well as in Palestine. And unfortunately, the US and Israel share a history of national security cooperation which includes mass surveillance, racial profiling, and violent suppression of dissent.
We also joined our national church, together with surprising partners like JStreet and Americans for Peace Now in endorsing Rep. Betty McCollum’s bill, HR 2590. The bill, would expand previously proposed legislation by adding monetary penalties to military support for Israel if such funding was used to detain Palestinian Children. HR2590 now has more than 30 co-sponsors.
Our endorsement activity increased in May as we joined other denominational PINs, interfaith partners, and secular organizations in a letter to President Biden opposing planned evictions in predominantly Palestinian neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem.
In response to the Israeli police attacks at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound, the rockets out of Gaza and the disproportionate retaliation by the Israeli military, we lent our name as one of 122 faith-based organizations signing an Interfaith Call to Action and called on PIN members and friends in Washington, DC area to participate in the national March for Palestine.
We were among more than 100 faith-based and secular organizations such as Churches for Middle East Peace, JVP Action, DCI – Palestine, and Indivisible in a letter urging President Biden to block delivery of an unnecessary, unrequested $735 million in military aid to Israel.
One of the more emotionally wrenching requests for endorsement came in July after Husam El-Qoulaq met several Members of Congress and their staff. Twenty-two members of Husam’s family were killed in Israel’s May attack on Gaza. Rep. Hank Johnson agreed to lead aHouse letter to Secretary of State Blinken calling for an investigation into whether Israel’s use of US weapons to attack the Gaza Strip was a violation of US law.
In mid September we learned that Representatives Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez and Pocan were going to introduce anAmendment to the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which would block the $735 Billion arms sale which we had petitioned the President to rescind. We were quick to show we continued to oppose this action and supported their initiative.
In late October we joined the Adalah Justice Project, AJP Action, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Progressive Democrats of America (among many others) in endorsing Rep. Betty McCollum’s House Resolution 751 condemning the Israeli government’s criminalization of six Palestinian human rights organizations.
We also joined with some of these and other organizations, sending a letter to Secretaryof State Blinken, asking him to demand that Israel rescind their false designation of these NGOs.
In November, we endorsed a letter organized by FCNL, J Street, and Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) in support of SenSanders’ amendment to the FY22 NDAA which would require a report on the humanitarian impact of severe restrictions on movement, access, and goods in and out of Gaza as well as possible solutions to the crisis.
The latest PIN endorsement came in response to a November request from the Friends of Sabeel, North America (FOSNA), to support a petition calling on all parties to release the bodies of those killed. Currently, 4 Israeli soldiers bodies are somewhere in Gaza and 335 Palestinian bodies are being held by Israel. A Declaration Regarding Respect forthe Bodies of the Deceased asks faith leaders (like you!) to sign their petition to return these bodies to their families for burial.
Do these endorsements accomplish their goal? It is true that our cries sometimes seem to fall on deaf ears. But we think standing with the oppressed and for justice is the right thing to do, Could we do more? Sure! And perhaps with your financial and volunteer support we will.
Thanks to Randy Heyn-Lamb for bringing this together.