Schoolgirls stoned by Israeli settlers
Crowd of young men attacks attacks group of students, accompaniers in Hebron
group of Jewish settlers attacked five foreign activists, including members
of two church-sponsored monitoring teams, who were escorting Palestinian
girls from a school in the divided West Bank city of Hebron, team members
story from Presbyterian News Service >>
Two scholars examine "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy"
Two professors from
Harvard University and the University of Chicago have just released an
81-page study on "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" that concludes
that the "overall thrust of U.S. policy in the [Middle East] is due almost
entirely to U.S. domestic politics, and especially to the activities of the
'Israel Lobby.'" More >>
Conference on American
Churches and the Palestinian meets in Austin, Texas
Palestinians speak about rights violations and about their
Rev. David Oliver-Holder reports on a conference held
February 11th and 12th on the campus of Austin
Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The conference, on the theme "To Loose
the Chains of Injustice - Isaiah 58:6: American Churches and the
Palestinians," was presented by Friends of Sabeel - North America, the
Roman Catholic peacemaking group Pax Christi USA, and the Austin-based
Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights. The event attracted more than
220 people from all over the United States. [2-22-05]
Commemorating Auschwitz [1-26-05]
January 27 marks the 60th anniversary of the
liberation by Soviet troops of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp which, with its
gas ovens and crematoria, came to epitomize more than any other the horrors
and efficiency of the Nazi death machine.
Kofi Annan honors
the victims, the survivors, and those who tried to help - and reminds
the nations that massive horrors against humanity continue
Survivor Elie Wiesel looks back at the Auschwitz
death factory 60 years later.
'This Cannot Be True' ... but It Was
Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace laureate and a Holocaust survivor
and author of 40 books, writes a
Commentary essay in the Los Angeles Times. He notes that today
"the world has grown used to seeing pictures and hearing stories of huge,
frightening, nature-made or man-made catastrophes from places like Bosnia,
Rwanda and South Asia. But Auschwitz remains a case apart. It is unique."
His closing lines:
One cannot conceive of Auschwitz with God or without
God. Ever since, all certainties need to be reexamined, all theories
All we know is that Auschwitz did not descend ready-made from heaven.
Human beings imagined it, built it, served it, used it against other human
beings. When all is said and done, it represents a grave theological
challenge to Christianity, an immoral abdication on the part of humankind.
Were the torturers still human beings? Was it human then to be inhuman?
Today, when I think of the guilty, I sense despair. But when I think of
the survivors, I strangely discover a compelling promise of hope.
Interfaith conference will consider
American churches and the Palestinians
Sponsored by the Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights, Friends of
Sabeel-North America, and Pax Christi USA, the gathering is slated for Feb.
11 and 12, 2005, at Austin Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas.
Leaders will include
The Rev. Naim Ateek,
Director, Sabeel Ecumenical Center,
Jerusalem; The Rev. Dr. Donald Wagner,
Director, Center for Middle East Studies, North Park University; and leaders
of the Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Methodist, and Lutheran Churches, and Pax
The focus of the
conference will be on the work of the churches for a just peace in
You'll find more
information on the Sabeel website - in both
PC(USA) delegation to Middle East offers a preliminary
A group of seven members of the Advisory Committee on Social Witness
Policy (ACSWP) visited a number of countries in the Middle East, including
Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Israel and Egypt, from October 14
through 31, 2004.
Some aspects of their visit gave raise to a large outcry
from Jewish leaders and from some Presbyterians, and led to the dismissal
of two members of the Presbyterian national staff who took part in the
trip. We expect to hear - and post - more about that in due time.
The group has now presented a brief report listing some
of their major experiences and learnings, which may remind us that they
were in that area of the world for deeper reasons than the current debates
The report is available on the PC(USA) website, in
to download (free!) Adobe Reader software to view this and all PDF files.
Middle East Bulletin
Presbyterian Washington Office has issued its quarterly Middle East
Bulletin, reporting on new possibilities for US action as "honest Broker"
between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and for Palestinian
elections; possible steps for action are also outlined, that reflect
General Assembly positions.
Divestment Debate Broadens, Deepens
Presbyterian Outlook reporter Leslie Scanlon details
developments around the country reflecting deep differences over
Presbyterian words and actions in relation to Israel, Palestine, and
divestment, as well as the dismissal of national staff members following a
Presbyterian delegation's visit to a group of Hezbollah leaders in
Voices of Palestinian Christians
The Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.) does mission in partnership with our Christian brothers and
sisters around the world. By joining with people who are part of the
universal, or ecumenical church, and listening to their experiences, we
broaden our perspective as we seek God's will.
Presbyterians hear from our
ecumenical partners in many ways. During the
216th General Assembly
(2004), commissioners heard from our Palestinian Christian partners about
the realties of life in their region of the world. Their experiences were
part of what inspired commissioners to take action to help bring a just
peace to the region.
Beyond considering the statements of the
General Assembly, Presbyterians are called to hear the stories of our
Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters through listening and mutual
respect. In this way, we gain a shared understanding so that we can work
together to seek God's will.
You can hear some of
voices of our Palestinian Christian partners through the PC(USA)
One writer urges support for the
statement recently issued by Presbyterians Concerned for Jewish and
Christian Relations, which we reported on recently.
I call on all Presbyterians committed to social justice to read the
statement of the Presbyterians Concerned for Jewish and Christian
Relations, which can be found at
Please read it prayerfully and with an open mind. I have
found it to be a measured approach in view of the difficulties many of us
have regarding the General Assembly's action to initiate a process of
phased and selective divestment from corporations contributing to Israel's
occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
Not every progressive Presbyterian will agree with the Witherspoon Society
statement on this issue. I know that I do not. After discussions with
Jewish leaders and friends, I am particularly troubled that we acted in a
peremptory fashion, without adequate an airing of the issues with our
Jewish brothers and sisters before the vote. This to me is a violation of
the procedural fairness that is a hallmark of our denomination. Dialogue
should come before the vote, not after. Secondly, by singling out Israel
in this fashion, we have taken an unbalanced approach. This is another
sign of disrespect. I call on all Presbyterians to consider signing the
petition, as I have.
Member of Northminster Church,
See our earlier reports on the
PCJCR statement, along with the text
of their letter.
about the Israel Palestine conflict from a Palestinian Christian and
If you're in the New York area, you'll have opportunities this week to join
in events this week with the Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb. Mitri is a Palestinian
Christian and the pastor of the Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem.
Despite the growing violence, Mitri remains an ardent advocate for peace in
the region. He will be speaking on three occasions, sponsored by
the Presbyterian UN Office and other groups.
|GA Peacemaking Committee chair
charges of anti-Semitism in actions of the Presbyterian Church
Witherspoon's summary of General Assembly
actions mentioned -- just briefly --
two actions dealing
with Israel, Israel's building of the wall, and the possibility of
disinvesting from corporations that support the Israeli government.
Numerous articles and letters have appeared in the past
week or two, charging that the actions taken by the 216th General
Assembly were anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.
The Rev. Bruce Gillette, who chaired the Assembly's
Committee on Peacemaking, which dealt with this proposed actions, sent
a response to the Philadelphia Inquirer,
which had also published accusations of anti-Semitism.
Washington Office of the
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Israeli-Palestinian Settlement Undermined
On April 14, 2004, President Bush threw
the full weight of the United States government against any impartial
settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by endorsing the unilateral
"peace plan" of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
In so doing, the President has undermined
the credibility of the leaders of two key U.S. Arab allies that border
Israel - Jordan and Egypt - by enraging millions of ordinary people in Arab
states. Moreover, he has undercut what little hope there might have been
that any of the 55 Islamic - and more importantly, any of the 22 Arab -
countries would contribute troops to a post-June 30 international
peacekeeping force for Iraq. Pakistani and Malaysian officials earlier had
hinted they might consider sending peacekeepers if the UN takes over from
the U.S. at the end of June.
ACTION: Write your senators and ask
them to speak out against U.S. acceptance of the unfair, unilateral Sharon
plan presented on April 14.
Click here for help in contacting legislators and formulating your message
Scroll down the page to write your message.
BACKGROUND: Under the Sharon plan
endorsed by President Bush, Israel will withdraw "certain military
installations and all settlements from Gaza and withdraw certain military
installations and settlements in the West Bank." Under this formulation,
developed in consultation with the Bush Administration but without
participation by Palestinian officials or representatives from other engaged
parties such as the UN, the European Union, and Russia, Israel reserves the
right to determine which military installations it will retain in Gaza and
which installations and settlements it will retain on the West Bank. The
Palestinians face a fait accompli.
President Bush asserted during a White
House ceremony with Prime Minister Sharon that the U.S. "remains committed
to the vision of two states living side by side in peace and security, and
its implementation" according to his June 24, 2002, "Roadmap for Middle East
Peace." The roadmap envisaged negotiations without pre-conditions and
between equals on such "final status" issues as settlements, boundaries, and
right-of-return for Palestinian refugees. By accepting long-standing Israeli
positions on all these issues because of "facts on the ground," President
Bush disregarded the principles on which his roadmap was based and publicly
jettisoned regard for the rights and dignity of Palestinians as a people.
This approach does not advance the cause of
peace. It will only prolong the suffering and conflict - perhaps for years -
and may precipitate worse violence.
Click here for help in contacting legislators and formulating your message
Scroll down the page to write your message.
Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121
Washington, DC 20510
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Information on your members is available at
CONTACTING THE ADMINISTRATION
White House Comment Desk
Phone: 202 456-1111
Web site: http://www.whitehouse.gov/
President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Published by the Stewardship of Public Life (SPL) advocacy program of the
Washington Office, Presbyterian Church (USA), 110 Maryland Avenue NE,
Washington, D.C. 20002, (202) 543-1126,
ratified (or not) by the presbyteries
A number of the most important actions of the 219th
General Assembly have now been acted upon by the presbyteries,
confirming most of them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book of Order.
We provided resources to help inform the
reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.
Our three areas of primary interest have been:
which removes the current ban on
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as
possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.
which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of
Confessions. Disapproved, because as an amendment
to the Book of Confessions it needed a 2/3 vote, and did not
10-1, which adopts the new Form of Government
that was approved by the Assembly. Approved.|
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Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New
York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive
New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the
Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian
Church in Flushing, NY.
John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive
A Presbyterian minister, currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!