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Israel-Palestine

Schoolgirls stoned by Israeli settlers

Crowd of young men attacks attacks group of students, accompaniers in Hebron
   [4-21-06]

A 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 said.

The story from Presbyterian News Service >>

Two scholars examine "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy"    [3-22-06]

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 persistent hope

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

Also ...

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 reevaluated.

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   [1-12-05]

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 Christi USA.

The focus of the conference will be on the work of the churches for a just peace in Israel-Palestine.

You'll find more information on the Sabeel website - in both Word and PDF formats.

PC(USA) delegation to Middle East offers a preliminary report  [12-23-04]

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 might suggest.

The report is available on the PC(USA) website, in PDF format.
Adobe PDF  Click here to download (free!) Adobe Reader software to view this and all PDF files.

For background:

bullet Protests against statements by one member of the delegation to the Middle East
bulletDismissal of two national staff members
bulletComments on the dismissal.
bulletDebate on divestment
Middle East Bulletin   [12-21-04]

The 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   [12-21-04]

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 Lebanon.

Voices of Palestinian Christians    [12-21-04]

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 the voices of our Palestinian Christian partners through the PC(USA) website.

One writer urges support for the statement recently issued by Presbyterians Concerned for Jewish and Christian Relations, which we reported on recently.    [12-21-04]

Dear friends,

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
http://www.pcjcr.org

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.

Gary Johnson,
Member of Northminster Church,
Evanston, Illinois

See our earlier reports on the PCJCR statement, along with the text of their letter.

Learn about the Israel Palestine conflict from a Palestinian Christian and Lutheran pastor    [10-11-04]

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 responds to charges of anti-Semitism in actions of the Presbyterian Church  [7-26-04]

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.

bulletAlso, the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian General Assembly, has  issued a statement explaining the Assembly's actions.
Urgent Alert

Washington Office of the Presbyterian Church (USA)


[4-23-04]

Contact Congress

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CONTACTING LEGISLATORS
Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121

Sen. ________
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Rep. ________
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Information on your members is available at
http://capwiz.com/pcusa/home

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CONTACTING THE ADMINISTRATION
White House Comment Desk
Phone: 202 456-1111
Fax:202-456-2461
Email:president@whitehouse.gov
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, www.pcusa.org/washington

 

 

GA actions 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:

bullet Amendment 10-A, which  removes the current ban on lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.  Approved!

bullet Amendment 10-2, 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 receive that.

bullet Amendment 10-1, which  adopts the new Form of Government that was approved by the Assembly.   Approved.
 

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Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

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 thoughtful community.

 

John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

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 lightening up.

 

Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!

 

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