2019 saw the third delegation in four years to the West Bank and Gaza led by members of EPF’s Palestine Israel Network. Through these trips, many members have been able to see firsthand the consequences of settler colonialism, which has helped to inform our work. By going on the ground in Israel and Palestine, we have been able to verify with our own eyes the injustice of displacement, the pain of poverty, and the tragic result of state violence. We have seen the manifold ways the situation there resonates with so many concerns of groups at home: racism, the privileging of a few and the ‘othering’ of many, victimization of children, militarism, and xenophobia.
Within the Church in the US, our work in 2019 focused on monitoring the progress of implementation of six resolutions passed by the 2018 General Convention:
- the House of Bishops has appointed a committee to address the mandates of B003: On the Status of Jerusalem.
- B021: Support Aid to Palestinian Refugees and C038:Safeguard Rights of Palestinian Children were cited in action alerts by Office of Government Relations’ Episcopal Public Policy Network and the Presiding Bishop in support of reinstating UNRWA funding and a US House bill, Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act.
- The Church’s Executive Council voted to put in place a Global Human Rights Investment Screen, with specific criteria for the Palestine/Israel conflict. The adoption of the screen creates a No-Buy List for our church, to be administered by the Council’s Committee for Corporate Social Responsibility. In addition, three corporations – Motorola, Caterpillar and the Israel Discount Bank – were placed on the No-Buy List, with a mandate to sell church holdings.
Another emphasis for PIN in 2019 was local organizing. A new PIN Bulletin for Local Organizers is being circulated among PIN activists to build up our network and share tactics and local initiatives. This fall, the dioceses of Rochester and Chicago passed resolutions on freedom of speech and the right to boycott. The resolutions were modeled on a resolution adopted in the Diocese of Vermont in 2018 and circulated in the Bulletin with advice for a successful process. The Bulletin also highlights materials from PIN’s Tool Kit.
PIN continues our regular media outreach through PINontheGo and Facebook. Our group is actively engaged with a wide circle of allies, representing denominations and interfaith organizing.
In 2019, PIN endorsed four action initiatives from our allies at Jewish Voice for Peace, Friends of Sabeel North America and the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.
- An initiative from Jewish Voice for Peace: Fight white supremacy & antisemitism, not students and their freedom of speech: As civil rights organizations, we want nothing more than for our elected leaders to take strong, decisive action against antisemitism. But President Trump’s Executive Order is a harmful, authoritarian act that will not protect Jews. President Trump’s Executive Order uses an overly broad and dangerous definition of antisemitism that was never designed to be used on college campuses. By defining criticism of Israel as antisemitism, it will lead to the censoring of student activism, faculty research, and teaching about Palestine. The Executive Order does nothing to make Jewish students safer on college campuses, but it does play into the hands of Trump’s antisemitic, white nationalist base, by using language that could be interpreted as defining Jewish people as a separate nation. We say: We should be fighting white supremacy and antisemitism, not students and freedom of speech.
- Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) and Black4Palestine (B4P) have partnered to initiate a Black church outreach project that seeks to raise awareness in Black congregations about Palestinian freedom and justice. “We invite Black Clergy, Black Christians, as well as members of the Black community and anyone who supports this statement to sign on in support of a Black church call to end Israeli apartheid and to uplift Palestinian demands for justice.” Read the full statement here.
- Freedom is the Future A Call from Palestinians in the US: EPF PIN is a solidarity endorser. The Call was featured in the December Voices for Justice email.
- Rise Against Racism: #CounterCUFI: FOSNA and other groups acted on a public witness at the annual CUFI (Christians United for Israel) gathering in Washington DC last summer. Read the statement here.
EPF PIN looks forward to building on this important work in the coming year.
Thanks to Linda Gaither, EPF PIN convener, and Harry Gunkel, communications coordinator for writing most of this report.