As we prepare for General Convention 2018, we share three resolutions on Palestine passed at diocesan conventions this year.
California: 27-28 October 2017
A JUST PEACE IN THE HOLY LAND
Resolved, That, in light of the Diocese’s 2014 advocacy of economic pressure as a means of ending Israel’s now fifty-year occupation of Palestinian lands and fostering a just peace in the Holy Land, the 168th Convention of the Diocese of California submits the following resolution to the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church:
Resolved, The House of ________ concurring, That the 79th General Convention of the
Episcopal Church direct the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee to identify by
July 1, 2019 those companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands or
whose products or actions support the infrastructure of the occupation and to place such
companies so identified on its “no-buy” list; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention direct the Investment Committee to divest from any investments it might have in such companies and urge the Church Pension Group (CPG) to take similar action; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention direct Executive Council to disseminate to Episcopalians a list of products manufactured in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and marketed in the United States; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention encourage Episcopalians to avoid investing in such companies or buying such products.
Chicago: 17-18 November 2017
Subject: Palestinian children in Israeli military courts
Sponsor: The Rev. Anthony Vaccaro, Peace and Justice Committee of the Diocese of Chicago
Resolved, that the 180th Convention of the Diocese of Chicago submits the following resolution
to the 79thth General Convention of The Episcopal Church:
Resolved, The House of ___________ concurring, that the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church calls on the State of Israel to guarantee basic due process rights and exercise a prohibition against torture and ill-treatment of detained children (defined as persons under 18 years old), noting that among the practices in Israel’s military detention system that require change are the use of nighttime arrests in the child’s home, physical and verbal abuse, blindfolds and restraints, strip searches, solitary confinement, coerced confessions and confessions written in Hebrew, as well as the separation of detained children from their parents and legal counselors (including the transfer of Palestinian children to prisons within the State of Israel that their parents are not permitted to visit); and
Resolved, that the 79th General Convention requests the Secretary of this Convention to communicate this call to the Prime Minister of Israel and the Israeli Ambassador to the United States; and
Resolved, that the 79th General Convention calls on the Secretary of State of the United States to certify annually that no funds obligated or expended in the previous year by the United States for assistance to Israel have been used to support the military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill- treatment of Palestinian children in violation of international humanitarian law; and
Resolved, that the 79th General Convention requests the Secretary of this Convention to communicate this call to The Secretary of the State of the United States as well as the United States Senate, the President, and the Vice-President..
The 180th Annual Convention Diocese of Chicago November 17-18, 2017
The wording of this resolution and parts of the explanation is taken (with permission of the authors) directly from the much larger resolution, “A Call for the United Church of Christ to Advocate for the Rights of Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation,” approved as amended July 2, 2017 by the General Synod of the United Church of Christ.
The treatment of children in Israeli military courts has been well documented by Defense of Children International – Palestine (Bound, Blindfolded and Convicted : children held in military detention, April 30, 2012 ), Human Rights Watch, Separate and Unequal, Israel’s Discriminatory Treatment of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Dec. 2010 , and UNICEF, Children in Israeli Military Detention – Observations and Recommendations – 6 March 2013 . Since 2000 at least 8,000 Palestinian children have been caught up in the Israeli military detention system. Arrests of children often occur during night raids on family homes by heavily armed Israeli soldiers, children are often blindfolded, suffered from physical and verbal abuse and transferred in an army Jeep to an interrogation center where they are interrogated without the presence of a lawyer or parents. Interrogations are intended to result in a confession.
Over 90% of West Bank Palestinian children taken to military court are convicted.
In April 2016, Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) published a study of 429 West Bank children detained between 2012 and 2015. Three out of four children had endured some form of physical violence after being detained by Israeli forces. In 97 percent of the cases, children had no parent or lawyer present during the interrogation process. Interrogators used position abuse, threats, or isolation to coerce confessions from some of these children. At least 66 children were hold in solitary confinement for an average period of 13 days. One child was held in isolation for 45 days. (Defense for Children International – Palestine, No Way to Treat a Child, Palestinian Children in the Israeli Military Detention System, 14 April 2016 ).
Since 1967, Israel has operated two separate legal systems in the same territory. Israeli Jewish settlers who reside in the West Bank enjoy protections provided by the Israeli civilian legal system. In contract, Palestinians in the West Bank are subject to Israeli military law, which fails to ensure and, in fact, denies basic and fundamental rights. Palestinian children in the West Bank thus suffer abuses and constraints of a military detention system which no Israeli child living in the West Bank ever experiences. The occupation thus creates a system where Palestinians living in the same occupied territory as Israeli settlers have inferior rights and protections under the law – a system where Palestinian children experience an environment of fear, dehumanization and violence that is contradictory to the flourishing of life to which all children, including Palestinian and Israeli children, aspire.
Furthermore the State of Israel ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on October 3, 1991 – a convention that calls on states to “Treat every child deprived of liberty with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age,” to use arrest and imprisonment
of children “only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time,” to give detained children “prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty” and “the right to maintain contact with his or her family through correspondence and visits,” and in n case to subject children to “torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 37 )
The U. S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 [FAA] states that no assistance will be furnished to “any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.” Josh Ruebner in his paper, “US Military Aid to Israel : policy implications and options : November 2, 2016” writes: “Given that US military aid to Israel does not further the advancement of human rights but rather directly contributes to Israel’s systematic human rights violations against Palestinians and that these human rights violations cannot constitute “legitimate self-defense’, and take place not in the context of “internal security”, but in the framework of furthering a foreign military occupation, strong prima facie evidence exists to find Israel is in violation of the FAA and AECA [Arms Export Control Act].” (p. 19)  Adoption of this resolution is not expected to require expenditures that would have in impact on the Diocesan budget.
 www.unicef.org/oPt/UNICEF_oPt_Children_in_Israeli_Military_Detention-Observations- and-Recommendations – 6_March_2013.pdf
Maine: 28 October 2017
Substitute Resolution 7a: Support of the Holy Land’s Children, a resolution submitted by the Episcopal Peace Fellowship was withdrawn and the following Substitute Resolution #7 was presented to Convention. After considerable discussion, it passed.
Resolved, that we of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, assembled in our 198th Convention, direct the Maine Deputation to General Convention (GC) to propose to the 79th GC of The Episcopal Church that it ask the Israeli Prime Minister and the President of the Palestinian Authority to provide assurances that their Governments will accord those under 18 years of age, i.e., those defined as children under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child, the full range of rights and protections called for under the international agreements to which they have subscribed.
And be it further resolved, that we direct the Maine Deputation to propose that the 79th GC call upon the President and Members of Congress to persuade the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to sustain their commitments to international law with regard to children’s rights and welfare, and that they ensure that children held in custody will not, as has often been alleged, be subjected to coercion, physical or psychological abuse, or torture.
And be it further resolved, that this Diocesan Convention directs the Maine Deputation to the GC to invite Deputations from New England and other States to sign on to this resolution.