Through resolutions of General Convention and statements of the Church’s Executive Council, the Episcopal Church has a long history of advocating for Palestinian rights and of opposition to Israel’s ongoing military occupation of the West Bank and its siege of the Gaza Strip. Church policy is grounded in our understanding of the Gospel mandate to stand with the disposed, the refugees, and the oppressed. It us further grounded in established international law and widely accepted standards of human rights. A summary of Episcopal Church policy on Palestine Israel may be found here.
The Palestinian Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement was initiated in 2005 by 170 Palestinian civil society groups such as trade unions, women’s organizations, professional societies, and refugee networks. Inspired by the international nonviolent boycott of apartheid South Africa, BDS seeks to bring pressure on Israel to comply with international law. Although at the time of this writing, the Episcopal Church has not yet spoken explicitly on BDS, our Church has established policy consistent with the demands of the BDS movement, which are: 1) an end to the Israeli occupation; 2) full equality for the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and 3) the right of Palestinian return. Here is PIN’s endorsement of BDS. A BDS primer including its origins and history is found here.
In recent years, resolutions created by members of PIN and their allies have been submitted to and, in several instances, passed by diocesan conventions. They are a powerful tool for educating and expanding local awareness around urgent matters of Palestinian human rights, and they provide a specific focus for organizing and chapter formation. Importantly, because the Episcopal Church provides for the submission of passed diocesan resolutions to the General Convention, these resolutions may contribute to shaping the policy of the Church on Palestine – Israel.
Resolutions have been passed on defending the right to boycott in support of Palestinian human rights and self-determination, on rejecting Christian Zionism, on naming and opposing Israeli apartheid, and on applying the Leahy Laws to Israel. Dioceses that have proposed these and similar resolutions include those of Vermont, Chicago, Olympia, and Rochester.
Is it difficult to submit diocesan resolutions? No, although it may seem daunting at first. PIN can help. Examples of successful resolutions provide models for resolution format and content. Three resolutions passed by the Diocese of Vermont in November 2021 may be found here. The Diocese of Chicago passed resolutions in support of Palestine in 2020 and in 2021.
We hope that you will contact us directly if we can support your local efforts.
There is a large literature on Palestine that includes rigorous history, personal narratives of Palestinians displaced by the creation and expansion of Israel and now living as refuges or displaced persons, fiction, poetry, and critical political science. Film is a powerful medium for lifting up Palestinian voices and for documenting the history and current practices of settler colonial Zionism. Palestinian films are gaining increasing visibility, with streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video making more Palestinian films available. For example, the award-winning, Oscar-nominated film, The Present, is available on Amazon Prime. Palestinian film festivals are established in cities such as Toronto, Boston, and Rochester. St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle runs an impressive festival, with some of the films available for online viewing. Voices from the Holy Land, based in the Washington DC area, offers free, monthly online films and discussion. PIN has created a list of books and films.
The topics include apartheid and Zionism defined, a proposal to broaden the Church’s human rights screen to diocesan investments, Christian Zionism, the disappearing Church in the Holy Land, freedom to boycott in support of Palestinian human rights, Israel’s Nation State Law, and a renunciation of Israel’s blockade of Gaza.