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GA Middle East study team meets with UN officials
Different voices heard as team prepares final
Sharon Youngs, communications coordinator for
the Office of the General Assembly, reports:
LOUISVILLE - The nine members of the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly Middle East study
team met Nov. 11-13, 2009, in New York City. Meetings were held
at the Presbyterian United Nations office and at First
Presbyterian Church of New York City.
The group's agenda focused on further
conversations with Palestinian and Israeli leaders, as well as
ecumenical and Presbyterian leaders, as they begin to craft
their final report to the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the
of the story >>
MRTI recommends denouncement of Caterpillar, Inc. for
corporate irresponsibility in Israel/Palestine
Committee encouraged by dialogue with many
other corporations [11-9-09]
Presbyterian News Service, in a story from
Cincinnati dated November 9, 2009, reports that at its Nov. 6
meeting there, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s
Through Investment (MRTI)
committee issued a
recommendation that the denomination's General Assembly denounce
Caterpillar, Inc. for its products' involvement in the
recommendation reads, "On the basis of Christian principles and
as a matter of social witness, the 219th General Assembly
strongly denounces Caterpillar's continued profit-making from
non-peaceful uses of a number of its products."
recommendation comes after four years of what MRTI called weak
response from the corporation to engage in dialogue with MRTI
and its ecumenical partners seeking just peace in the Middle
and its ecumenical partners have been working faithfully to
engage Caterpillar with very minimal success," said the Rev.
Brian Ellison, chair of MRTI. Later, Ellison told Presbyterian
News Service: "[We] find that Caterpillar remains unwilling to
accept any responsibility for the non-peaceful use of the
products it sells from which it continues to profit. The General
Assembly has said that it finds such a position unacceptable."
New study booklet and
DVD report on efforts by Muslim, Jewish, and Christian peacemakers
working for justice and reconciliation
Thanks to Len Bjorkman of the Presbyterian
Peace Fellowship, for news of this important resource.
Hope: The Palestinian Quest for Just Peace
is a 48-page perfect-bound booklet with a free companion DVD.
Steadfast Hope challenges common myths and misperceptions about
the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, presents a
compelling snapshot of the present situation on the ground, and
offers a guide to the challenges that lie ahead in the quest for
Steadfast Hope offers
an inspiring view of the activities currently being undertaken
by Muslim, Jewish, and Christian peacemakers working for justice
and reconciliation. It also gives helpful guidance on how your
congregation can contribute to the cause of just peace for the
people who share the Holy Land.
Download the flyer to
share with others!
low-resolution (smaller file)
hi-resolution (larger file)
Buy it now!
Israel/Palestine Mission Network by email at
to order the 48-page booklet and the accompanying free DVD.
• 1–9 copies............ $10 each
• 10–19 copies......... $7 each
• 20+ copies............ $5 each
Moderator of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network, says:
Steadfast Hope as an excellent resource for Presbyterian Women
as well as pastors, educators, and congregations. It grows from the
Israel/Palestine Mission Network purpose to demonstrate solidarity,
educate about the facts on the ground, and change the conditions
that erode the humanity of both Israelis and Palestinians."
more information >>
American Christian leaders applaud
PC(USA)'s Parsons among
leaders voicing grave concern over 'deteriorating situation in the Holy
by Jerry L. Van Marter,
Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE - A diverse group
of American Christian leaders – including Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
General Assembly Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons – today praised President Obama
for his speech in Cairo reaching out to the Muslim world and making
Israeli-Palestinian peace a top priority of his administration.
In a letter to the president,
the group also, however, expressed grave concern over the "deteriorating
situation in the Holy Land" and urged the Obama administration to make real
and concrete progress in achieving a just peace between Israel and the
Bishop Howard Hubbard, chair
of the Committee on International Justice and Peace of the United States
Conference of Catholic Bishops, said, "I am deeply inspired by the
president's effort to bridge divides of culture and faith and to reach out
directly to the people of the Middle East. Confrontation only breeds
radicalism. For this effort at rapprochement to succeed, however, we need to
see real progress on the ground towards peace with justice in the Holy
Joel C. Hunter, pastor of
Northland Church, said, "For too long the Holy Land has been viewed as a
clash of religions and cultures, but religion must be part of any durable
solution. We're saying today that we're prepared to put our faith and
resources behind that most important goal of bringing a just peace to
Israelis and Palestinians - Jew, Christians and Muslim alike."
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson,
presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said, "I
welcome President Obama's strong commitment to pursuing Israeli-Palestinian
peace. His belief that peace in the Holy Land is possible and his firm
statements holding both Israel and the Palestinians to their obligations are
heartening. Indeed, urgent efforts are now needed to preserve the two-state
solution. We are ready to help support bold action by his administration to
finally achieve the peace of Jerusalem."
The letter emphasizes that
this may be the last chance for a viable two-state solution to the Holy
Land's conflict, which the signatories view as critical to stabilizing the
region and bringing justice for both Israelis and Palestinians.
In addition to praising
Obama's Cairo speech, the ad hoc group of leaders signaled their support for
related statements regarding Middle East peace the president made in a
June 1 interview with National Public Radio.
The full text of the Christian leaders' letter,
dated June 4, 2009:
Dear Mr. President,
As American Christian leaders
with a shared commitment to a just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace, we
have come together at a time of great opportunity and urgency. After decades
of tragic conflict, many Israelis and Palestinians despair of the
possibility of peace, yet with your determined leadership we believe the
promise of two viable, secure and independent states can be realized.
We commend your message to
the people of the Middle East and your challenge to all of us to work for
Holy Land peace as we seek to build a more positive future for the people of
the region and the world. We are grateful that you have identified
resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a top priority and made
clear your Administration's commitment to sustained, hands-on diplomacy. As
you embark on peace efforts, we ask you to provide a clear framework for an
end to the conflict, help Israelis and Palestinians make the difficult
decisions necessary to achieve lasting peace, and hold both parties to
account when they fail to honor their commitments.
Mr. President, you have
assumed office at one of the most critical moments in the long history of
this conflict. While the international community and majorities of the
Israeli and Palestinian people are all committed to a two state solution as
the best option for achieving peace and security, the window of opportunity
is rapidly closing. Continued settlement growth and expansion are rapidly
diminishing any possibility for the creation of a viable Palestinian state.
The targeting of Israeli civilians through ongoing rocket fire and the
insistent rejection by some of Israel's right to exist reinforces the
destructive status quo. These actions, along with the route of the
separation barrier, movement restrictions, and continued home demolitions,
serve to undermine Palestinians and Israelis alike who seek peace. As hope
dims, the threat of violence grows and hardliners are strengthened.
We share a common commitment
to all the people of the Holy Land – Jews, Christians and Muslims – and are
particularly concerned with the plight of the Palestinian Christian
community. In the birthplace of our faith, one of the world's oldest
Christian communities is dwindling rapidly, and with them the possibility of
a day when three thriving faith communities live in shared peace in
Jerusalem. Mr. President, it is apparent that unless there is an
Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement Christians in the Holy Land may cease to
exist as a viable community.
Now is indeed the time for
immediate and bold American leadership. Fruitful diplomacy will require U.S.
engagement with a Palestinian unity government committed to peace with the
state of Israel. We commend your important statements pressing both Israel
and the Palestinians to live up to their obligations, and we urge your
Administration to continue to bolster Palestinian capacity to halt violence
and continue to demonstrate firm dedication to a viable Palestinian state by
exhibiting no tolerance for Israeli settlement activity. While working to
end rocket attacks against the people of southern Israel, the U.S. should
also seek immediate relief for the population of Gaza – living in rubble and
without basic necessities – by ending restrictions on humanitarian goods and
opening the borders to reconstruction material, commerce and transit in a
We welcome your call for
people on both sides to recognize the pain and aspirations of the other.
Because of this conflict many have lost the ability to see the other as
human beings worthy of dignity and respect. An entire generation of Israelis
and Palestinians has grown up amidst violence and hatred. We pledge to join
with you to work with and support those in both societies who seek peace,
justice and security, standing beside those who hope for a better future for
themselves and for the generations that follow.
The current political
stalemate and declining situation on the ground demonstrate that Israelis
and Palestinians cannot reach a negotiated agreement without a strong,
helping hand. We urge your Administration to present proposals that go
beyond the mere principle of two states and lay out a just and equitable
solution that provides dignity, security and sovereignty for both peoples.
Moreover, we appreciate your
strong support for a comprehensive peace and we look forward to diplomatic
efforts to build upon the historic Arab Peace Initiative, with its offer of
recognition and normalization of relations with Israel in exchange for an
end to the occupation.
There is no greater work than
the Psalmist's call to "seek peace and pursue it" and no more critical time
than now to finally end the conflict in the Holy Land (Ps. 34:14). We stand
ready to support your bold action and are rallying Christians nationwide
around robust U.S. peacemaking efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Our prayers and mutual commitment are with you in this difficult and most
The Rev. Dr. Jimmy R. Allen
New Baptist Covenant
The Most Rev. Archbishop
Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
Bishop Wayne Burkette
Moravian Church in America, Southern Province
Eastern University, St. Davids, PA
Sr. J. Lora Dambroski, OSF
President, Leadership Conference of Women Religious
His Eminence Archbishop
Demetrios of America
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Dr. Joy Fenner
Baptist General Convention of Texas
Leighton Ford Ministries
Israel L. Gaither
The Salvation Army
The Rev. Dr. David Emmanuel
Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention
The Rev. Wesley
Reformed Church in America
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
President, Lutheran World Federation
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Most Rev. Howard J. Hubbard
Bishop of Albany
Committee on International Justice and Peace
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Dr. Joel C. Hunter
Senior Pastor, Northland Church
Member, Executive Committee of the National Association of Evangelicals
Willow Creek Community Church
Advocate for Global Engagement
Willow Creek Community Church
The Most Rev. Katharine
The Episcopal Church
The Reverend A. Wayne Johnson
National Missionary Baptist Convention of America
Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim
Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch for the Eastern USA
Margaret Mary Kimmins, OSF
Franciscan Action Network
The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon
National Council of Churches
The Rev. Michael E.
International Council of Community Churches
Immediate Past President, National Council of Churches
The Reverend Willie Maynard
Treasurer, National Baptist Convention, Inc.
Pastor, St. Paul Baptist Church, LA
His Eminence Theodore
Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Washington
The Rev. John L.
Executive Director and CEO
Church World Service
Mary Ellen McNish
American Friends Service Committee
The Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley
American Baptist Churches
Richard J. Mouw
Fuller Theological Seminary
Editor in Chief
Stanley J. Noffsinger
Church of the Brethren
Bishop Gregory Vaughn Palmer,
The Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church
The Rev. Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
The Very Rev. Thomas Picton,
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Reverend Tyrone Pitts
Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.
Most Rev. John H. Ricard, SSJ
Catholic Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee
Bob Roberts, Jr.
NorthWood Church, Keller, TX
Metropolitan PHILIP (Saliba)
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
Dr. Chris Seiple
Institute for Global Engagement
Former Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom
The Reverend William J. Shaw
President, National Baptist Convention, Inc
Pastor, White Rock Baptist Church, PA
Evangelicals for Social Action
Reverend T. DeWitt Smith
Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.
The Rev. John H. Thomas
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ
The Rev. Dr. Sharon E.
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
The Most Rev. Thomas G.
Catholic Bishop of Orlando
The Right Rev. John F.
Ecumenical and Urban Affairs Officer
African Methodist Episcopal Church
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Bishop Gabino Zavala
Pax Christi USA: National Catholic Peace Movement
Rabbi Michael Lerner, Chair of the
Network of Spiritual Progressives, urges ...
Stand with President Obama on Israel and Iran
If you're one of President Obama's supporters on the
Middle East, Congress needs to hear from you right now.
Send an email to your representatives in Congress that you
support President Obama's policy in the Middle East - both on the
Arab-Israeli conflict and on Iran.
Some in Congress may consider opposing the President under
the false impression that that's what Jewish Americans and other friends of
In fact, over 70% of Jewish Americans support President
Obama's handling of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Middle East. We would
prefer if Obama went further--and clearly articulated a U.S. vision of what
a just and fair peace agreement would look like. We are concerned that he
may be dragged into giving US approval to a "peace process" that is little
more than endless negotiations, while Netanyahu and Lieberman expand the
settlements on the West Bank. So we want Obama to move beyond his current
plans. He certainly won't do that if he faces a Congress that tells him that
the US can't even engage in negotiations with the Palestinian unity
government! More >>
Here's what's happening with the President's agenda in
Congress right now:
On Iran, the President is promoting tough, direct
diplomacy to address concerns over their nuclear program, support for Hamas
and Hezbollah, and threats against Israel. The President has made clear that
the diplomatic road ahead will be tough - but the chances of success won't
be helped by Congress imposing tight timelines or a new round of sanctions
at this moment.
Yet, just this week, the Orwellian-named "Iran Diplomacy
Enhancement Act" was introduced in the House – a bill that in reality does
nothing to "enhance diplomacy" but instead imposes further sanctions on
Iran, directly undercutting the President's diplomatic message.
When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the
President is moving clearly to promote a two-state solution – including
support for Palestinian institution-building and for urgent humanitarian
needs – all part of the proposal first made by Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton to provide $900 million in aid to the Palestinians. It's not nearly
enough, but it's a start.
Not only will this assistance help alleviate human
suffering in Gaza, rebuild its infrastructure, and revive its stalled
economy, but it is also structured in a way that could enable the U.S. to
work with a Palestinian unity government that meets relevant criteria, an
important building block for advancing Israeli-Arab peace.
The opposition is going to be intense. Just last week, for
instance, Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) attacked the President's request as allowing
support for Palestinian "Nazis."
Yet, according to recent polls, 69% of Israelis and
American Jews would support dealing with a Palestinian unity government that
We oppose and condemn Hamas' use of terror and violence to
achieve political ends. We also condemn the terror and violence used by
Israel against the Palestinian people in order to enforce the Occupation of
the West Bank and the open-air prison that is called Gaza.
Along with the majority of American Jews and Israelis, we
also recognize that resolving this conflict may require bringing those who
have used violence into a political process, one aim of which is to end
their armed resistance. So, yes the Palestinians will have to sit with
violence-mongers Netanyahu and Lieberman and Israelis will have to sit with
violence-mongers from Hamas. But that's how you make peace – by sitting with
your enemies, no matter how little you approve of their tactics.
This strategy has been met with some success in Lebanon,
where America works with a government that now includes Hezbollah, in Iraq
where we work with the Sunni Awakening, and of course in Northern Ireland.
President Obama intends to reverse years of diplomatic
neglect in the Middle East, aiming for nothing less than historic progress
to finally resolve historic conflicts.
But President Obama needs our political support to put his
agenda into action. That's why - on both issues – we're asking you to step
to the plate now to support President Obama's vision for U.S. policy in the
Our success will depend on our ability to generate
thousands of messages to Congress in a matter of hours – so, after you've
taken action, make sure to forward this message to your friends and family
that might be interested.
Thanks so much. If you don't know your Congressperson's
name, or how to contact her/him, go to
http://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml and you can get the
name of your Congressperson and a form that will allow you to send a note
directly to his or her office.
Sometimes, just a little gesture like this can make an
Warm regards and blessings,
Rabbi Michael Lerner, Chair, The Network of Spiritual
Churches for Middle East Peace
Announcing the 2009 Churches
for Middle East Peace Conference
Israeli-Palestinian Peace: Hope for Things Unseen
June 7-9, 2009
Please join us in Washington,
D.C. on June 7-9, 2009 at the Kellogg Conference Center and Hotel at
Gallaudet University in Washington, DC.
You will be informed and
inspired by speakers including Danny Seidemann, Michael Kinnamon, Trita
Parsi, Daniel Levy, and Amjad Attalah. You'll be empowered by learning how
to be an effective advocate for peace in the Holy Land. And, you'll have an
opportunity to impact policy directly on Capitol Hill by educating your
elected officials about the need for a just and lasting resolution to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You will make a difference.
The recent Gaza crisis
demonstrates the urgent need for U.S. engagement to bring about a just and
lasting resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The 111th Congress
and the Obama Administration provide a new opportunity to help Israelis and
Palestinians stop the tragic cycles of spiraling violence and diplomatic
stalemate and move forward on a path toward peace. Your elected officials
need to hear from American Christians who care about the two peoples of the
Holy Land and expect robust U.S. diplomatic action in 2009.
Please mark your calendars
and plan to attend this year's Advocacy Conference.
For Conference Details Check:
Online conference registration will be opening soon.
For questions contact CMEP at
for GA special committee on Israel Palestine
The membership of a General
Assembly special committee on Israel-Palestine has been released, bringing
the total of special committees named by the Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow,
moderator of the 218th General Assembly (2008) of the Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.) to three this week.
Reyes-Chow has also named his appointees to the Assembly’s
Committee to Study Issues of Civil Unions and Christian Marriage, and
one to study problems in the
translation of the
Heidelberg Catechism as they impact the question of ordination of lgbt
All three special committees were formed out of actions of
the 218th General Assembly (2008), which met last summer in San Jose, Calif.
|From the leadership of the
Prayer for Peace in Gaza
Even as we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, we
are anguished by stories of violence and conflict once again in Gaza [www.pcusa.org/worldwide/israelpalestine].
Citizens and soldiers, young people and old are wounded and killed. We see
how violence begets violence, as an eye for an eye leads not to peace, but
to deeper blindness. We pray fervently for peace, for a New Year marked by a
willingness and commitment to put violence aside and a desire and dedication
to seek new relationships of peace. We pray that governments and leaders
here and there and around the world will use whatever influence they may
have as peacemakers, and that we, too will have courage and faith to pray
without ceasing and to be agents of justice and peace for all.
Bruce Reyes-Chow, Moderator
Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk
Linda Valentine, Executive Director, General Assembly Council
|More on the Israeli attacks against Gaza
Peacemaking Program offers suggestions for action, and sources of
A few critical looks at Israel’s attack on Gaza –
mostly through Jewish eyes
refutes several of Israel’s justifications for its attacks on Gaza|
of the Institute for Policy Studies, analyzes Israel's actions under
these main points:|
The Israeli airstrikes represent serious
violations of international law С including the Geneva Conventions
and a range of international humanitarian law.
The U.S. is complicit in the Israeli violations С
directly and indirectly.
The timing of the air strikes has far more to do
with U.S. and Israeli politics than with protecting Israeli
This serious escalation will push back any chance
of serious negotiations between the parties that might have been
part of the Obama administration's plans.
There is much work to be done.
|Other good sources of information include
News offers a vast amount of information
(such as the pieces above) from many different sources, and
Jewish Voice for Peace, which reflects the
U.S.-based Jewish peace-activist orientation of the group.|
A Hundred Eyes for an Eye
Writing for Truthout,
Norman Solomon says:
Even if you set aside
the magnitude of Israel's violations of the Geneva conventions and
the long terrible history of its methodical collective punishment of
1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, consider the vastly
disproportionate carnage in the conflict. 'An eye for an eye makes
the whole world blind,' Gandhi said. What about a hundred eyes for
The rest of the article >>
A different point of view:
It's Overtime for Hamas' Leaders and Time for Them
Former Ambassador Marc Ginsberg argues that "the only
way out of this mess is to separate Hamas' entire military and political
leadership from the oppressed citizenry of Gaza (and yes, it is
absolutely a mischaracterization of fact to assert that Hamas is the
legitimate ruler of Gaza)."
From the Presbyterian Washington Office:
2008 Christmas message from the Washington Office includes:
From the Israel/Palestine
Israel/Palestine Mission Network invites us to join in their
letter to President-elect Obama before his inauguration –
supporting “Israel's right to exist and right to live in safety
and security, [as well as] peace and justice in Palestine.”
Here is the text of their email note seeking
signers for the letter >>
for the full text of their letter to Obama >>
I am writing you as the
Advocacy Chairperson for the PC(USA) Israel/Palestine Mission
Network. This is a network of hundreds of Presbyterians from
around the nation who advocate for peace and justice in
Israel/Palestine. Even as we support Israel's right to exist and
right to live in safety and security, so we also firmly believe
that this is directly tied to peace and justice in Palestine.
Our network was created by the mandate of the General Assembly
in 2004, and yet because we are a network we are independent
from the Office of the General Assembly. This gives us the
freedom, as we have, to sometimes speak prophetically even to
our leaders in Louisville.
On behalf of the network, my committee has
created the attached letter which will be sent to
President-elect Obama prior to his inauguration. We have been
given numerous routes, both front door and back door, by which
we can get just such a letter to him and will be pursuing that.
What we are doing now is sending the letter
throughout the denomination by every means available to offer
Presbyterians the opportunity to put their signature on this
letter. I am sending this to you because: 1) you may have an
interest in signing it yourself; and, 2) if you do, you also
have extensive contacts in this presbytery and beyond and may
want to distribute this letter to them and ask those people to
sign on as well.
The sign-up procedure is very simple – send an
with the following information: NAME, POSITION OR TITLE IN THE
CHURCH (minister, elder, deacon, educator, youth worker, etc.),
CHURCH NAME, TOWN/STATE/ZIP, PRESBYTERY, PREFERRED E-MAIL
ADDRESS (you need not respond back to me).
The deadline for
signing on is January 4th.
I do want to make
it clear that this request comes in my capacity as the
chairperson of the IPMN Advocacy Committee and is nothing more
than an inquiry concerning your possible interest in being part
of this effort. Aside from that, I encourage you to exercise
your good Presbyterian conscience as to whether or not you feel
it appropriate to sign on.
Worthington Presbyterian Church
773 High Street
Worthington, Ohio 43085
Presbytery of Susquehanna
Valley passes overture to endorse “Amman Call” for Arab-Israeli
For the full text of
the overture including the World Council of Churches’
statement, the “Amman Call” >>
resource on Israel/Palestine
Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has a new
website, offering current news, resources, resources for
advocacy, and much more.
Thanks to Witherspoon member
Voice for Peace defends the right to speak out
On October 27th, JVP-Boston joined
forces with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of
Massachusetts in a solidarity rally with the Sabeel Conference
taking place in that city.
an international peace movement initiated by Palestinian
Christians in the Holy Land who seek a just peace based on two
states -- Palestine and Israel -- as defined by international
law and existing United Nations resolutions. Their conference
had come under attack
by the local Jewish Community Relations Council, CAMERA
(Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America -- a
group "devoted to monitoring and challenging perceived
anti-Israeli news coverage"), and the David Project.
The main speaker at the conference was
Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He thanked Jewish Voice for Peace and
the many Jews who are following their conscience and speaking
against the Israeli occupation:
Thanks be to God for the many, many Jews
who know what their divine calling is and who want the
Israeli Government to live it out. We believe in a two state
solution - of two sovereign, viable states each with
contiguous borders guaranteed as secure by the international
community. We condemn acts of terrorism by whoever they are
committed. The suicide bomber has to be condemned for
targeting innocent civilians. But equally must the Israelis
be condemned for their acts of indiscriminate reprisal.
The world needs the Jews, Jews who are
faithful to their vocation that has meant so much for the
world's morality, of its sense of what is right and wrong,
what is good and bad, what is just and unjust, what is
oppressive and what sets people free. Jews are indispensable
for a good compassionate, just and caring world.
And so are
JVP was quick to defend the right of Sabeel,
Archbishop Tutu, and others to express their views against the
Israeli occupation. "Attacking and demonizing someone like
Archbishop Tutu by calling him an Anti-Semite because he
criticizes Israeli human rights abuses doesn't change the fact
that the occupation is wrong," stated Martin Federman, co-chair
of the Boston chapter of JVP. "Whatever name you give to it,
it's immoral, it's illegal and the world knows it."
And here's our earlier report on Tutu's speech
You are invited to participate as
a Congressional "Accompanier"
Congressional Accompaniment Project Tour
March 14 – March 24, 2008
• Travel for 10 days with your Congress member or his/her
Foreign Policy Aide to Israel & the Palestine Occupied
• Visit both sacred sites and sites of controversy: i.e. the
"Wall," military check points; homes demolished, refugee camps,
• Interview government officials, university faculty & students,
religious & human rights leaders, legal and research experts,
Israeli "Settlers" and Palestinian Refugees.
• Stay in a Jerusalem first class hotel, tour the Old City of
Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jerico, Ramallah and more.
Experience "Holy Week" celebrations in the "Holy City"
• Tour led by Sabeel’s Ecumenical Center in Jerusalem
• Nine nights and eight full days on the ground in Israel &
Palestine for about $1,200.
• Fly group rate round trip from Chicago to Tel Aviv.
Approximate flight cost: $1,200. Flights from other cities can
be arranged by CAP travel agent.
Contact CAP Tour: 319 354-7877 or
CAP is co-sponsored by: the Peacemaking Task
Force, East Iowa Presbytery; S.E. Iowa Lutheran Synod ELCA; Iowa
Friends of Sabeel; FOSNA; People for Justice in Palestine; the
Resource Ct. for Non-Violence, Santa Cruz CA; and the Sabeel
Ecumenical Theology Ct. Jerusalem.
Purpose and Goals
The purpose of the Congressional Accompaniment Project tour
is to give members of the United States Congress, either
directly or through their Foreign Policy Aides, constituents and
media representatives, an opportunity to become more fully
informed about the conditions and opinions of the people in
Israel and Palestine. Participants will be able to see for
themselves the "facts on the ground" and thus be better prepared
to speak and act knowledgeably about U.S. foreign policy.
We believe that intelligent, informed and balanced decisions
by the U S. Congress will contribute greatly toward a just and
lasting peace in the area and security and genuine freedom for
both Israelis and Palestinians, and thereby, the people of all
As your Congressional Representative or Aide "Accompanier,"
you can expect to learn - by talking with many people of both
sides and seeing the intentions of each displayed on the ground
- what the goals of the people in the area are and what efforts
and attitudes adopted by members of the U.S. Congress might
facilitate the achievement of a just and lasting peace.
Israel, Jews, and Judaism
Arch B. Taylor, Jr., writing
as a sympathetic Gentile, offers personal observations
concerning the complex relations among these three entities in
light of current events and biblical instruction, expressing
sincere hope for a peaceful settlement of the ongoing conflict
between the modern state of Israel and its Middle East
Arch Taylor is an ordained
Presbyterian minister who served for over thirty years in Japan
and taught Bible at Shikoku Gakuin University. After retirement
he went on short delegations twice to Nicaragua with Witness for
Peace and Habitat for Humanity, and once to Israel/Palestine
with Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and Christian Peacemaker
Teams. He is a member of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery of the
Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship,
Society of Biblical Literature, and author of Pearl Harbor,
Hiroshima, & Beyond: Subversion of Values.
His essay is published here in
format. You can also ask him to send you the file in
MS Word format; just send a note to him at
To request a copy on paper, he asks that you send him $2 to:
Arch B. Taylor, Jr.
2200 Greentree North #1120
Clarksville IN 47129
Desmond Tutu urges Jews to challenge
oppression of Palestinians
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who won a Nobel Peace
Prize for his role in the struggle against apartheid in South
Africa, spoke in Boston on October 27, appealing to Jews to
challenge what he described as the Israeli government's
oppression of Palestinians.
In a lengthy and emotional address to a packed
Old South Church, where the faint din of pro-Israel protesters
could be heard through the stone walls, Tutu cited passages from
the Hebrew Bible to argue that the God worshiped by Jews would
champion the cause of Palestinians.
"Remembering what happened to you in Egypt and
much more recently in Germany - remember, and act
appropriately," he said, alluding to the enslavement of Jews in
Egypt described in the book of Exodus, as well as to the Nazi
Holocaust. "If you reject your calling, you may survive for a
long time, but you will find it is all corrosive inside, and one
day you will implode."
His remarks, to a congregation of about 850,
created controversy even before they were delivered. A wide
array of Jewish community leaders and organizations denounced
Sabeel, the Palestinian Christian organization that put together
the conference at which Tutu spoke, as anti-Israel, and rued
Tutu's support of the group.
An op-ed column by Bishop Tutu, published in
the Globe the day before his speech, expressed his hope
for Israel/Palestine. He acknowledged there is little reason for
"optimism" in today’s realities, but his hope is grounded in the
deeper reality of God’s intention for humanity:
God has a dream for all his children. It
is about a day when all people enjoy fundamental security
and live free of fear. It is about a day when all people
have a hospitable land in which to establish a future. More
than anything else, God's dream is about a day when all
people are accorded equal dignity because they are human
beings. In God's beautiful dream, no other reason is
God's dream begins when we begin to know
each other differently, as bearers of a common humanity, not
as statistics to be counted, problems to be solved, enemies
to be vanquished or animals to be caged. God's dream begins
the moment one adversary looks another in the eye and sees
himself reflected there.
The full essay >>
Shannon O'Donnell, a Presbyterian
Volunteer in Mission now serving with the Sabeel Ecumenical
Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, took part in the
opening panel discussion of the Witherspoon Conference on Global
Mission and Justice, Sept. 16-19, 2007.
Click here to see her comments.
Participants in Sabeel Palestine conference report on their
encounters with the Israeli occupation, and pledge to advocate
for change in their own nations.
Over forty young adults of
nine nationalities have spent 11 days learning about and
experiencing the situation of occupied Palestine. They have
issued a joint statement reporting on their experiences, their
learnings, and their commitments to work for change.
Their report >>
of July! And consider this: just maybe ...
It's Time for a Declaration of Independence From Israel
Chris Hedges, the former New York Times Mideast bureau
chief, warns that America’s foreign policy, particularly under
the Bush administration, has been subverted by an aggressive and
dangerous Israeli agenda that could launch a nightmarish
Hedges, who graduated from Harvard Divinity School, is the
author of American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War
Read this on TruthDig.com >>
... or on CommonDreams >>
Praying for Gaza
a note from Shannon O’Donnell, PC(USA)
volunteer in mission in Jerusalem
Hope all is well across the globe where you
are, and that everyone is having a good summer so far.
You may be aware of the current situation in
Gaza. I ask that you would hold these people in your prayers.
Personally, I find it helpful to have a specific focus when I
pray for something, so below is an article I included for
Sabeel's quarterly magazine publication about a hospital in Gaza
that we have close connections to. It says so much about the
heart and mind of the people of Gaza, that (in my opinion) the
news networks fail to portray ...
A Parish Called Gaza
by Metin Mitchell
Gaza is a narrow piece of land along the
Mediterranean coast between Israel and Egypt. Just 40 km long
and 10 km wide, it is home to more than 1.4 million
Palestinians. Land side, the Israeli government has built a
"wall" around Gaza. This "wall" is one of the most sophisticated
ever built. It is a construction of concrete blocks, barbed
wire, electronic fences, and pillboxes with remote controlled
50-caliber machine guns.
Gaza has three main population centers: Gaza
City, Khan Younis and Rafah. These are some of the most densely
populated agglomerations in the world. The majority of the
populations are refugees who fled or who were expelled from
their homes in what was Palestine but became, in 1948, the State
There are two ways in and out of the Gaza
strip: Rafah crossing which leads through Egypt; Erez crossing
which leads through to Israel. Imports are not permitted through
Rafah. Exports are only permitted through Erez, however this is
often closed. Any form of viable economic activity based on
trade with the outside world is impossible.
Official unemployment is currently at 40
percent. The unemployment, the economic embargo and the
indiscriminate air strikes by Israel's air force have led to an
untold story. These are the facts. If you stack up these facts
of misery they are just another tally of human injustice,
poverty, and misery in a far away place. And you could quite
easily walk away from them.
Having been there I can tell you that in
amongst all the misery that is Gaza there is much that is
beautiful. There is hope, courage, defiance, and surprisingly,
forgiveness. I have witnessed the Gospel there on the front line
of poverty and misery. I have witnessed solidarity between
Muslims and Christians. I have seen with my own eyes, in the
midst of anger and fear, what a better world can look like.
I could tell you about the bleakness of Gaza.
I could tell you of that drive into Gaza city with its bombed
out roads and buildings. I could tell you about the scores of
young men hanging around with nothing to do. I could tell you
about the young men with guns looking for something to do. I
could tell you about the donkeys and carts, about the hammering
in the small workshops where men are desperately trying to
But let me tell you instead about a single
hospital there, the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital.
Amongst the narrow scarred streets there is a
small oasis of whitewash and green grass. It too carries its
scars. The chapel of the hospital has been bombed by an Israeli
Apache helicopter but this is dismissed in a good humored way by
the hospital director. The wards are spartan. The equipment is
old and inadequate. The surgery is dilapidated. The corridor
acts as the overflow when the bombing gets really too bad and
the casualties too many.
The hospital is open to all, irrespective of
their faith. It treats the poor without charge, it treats those
hurt in the crossfire of war, and it treats fighters injured in
battle, be they Israeli or Palestinian. The hospital is there to
heal the sick and suffering – period.
But direct casualties of war are not the only
victims in Gaza. War and its filth brings a hidden killer. And
this is cancer. The increase in cancer has been dramatic. It is
the women who are hardest hit by cancer, particularly breast
cancer. The hospital is doing what it can but it desperately
needs a mammogram machine so that it can do better detection
sooner and thus have a better chance of saving lives.
I was introduced to one of the hospital's
cancer outpatients. She lives near the hospital with her family.
They live in a graveyard. Her children are full of life. They
have the biggest smiles and the most mischievous grins I have
ever seen. They jump from one gravestone to another. These make
good hiding places since many of the tombs are open, having been
bombed at some point in time or another. Their home is a hut in
the middle of the graves. The hut has no drainage for sewage.
You don't need to be a doctor to see that the
children are malnourished and sickly. But you do need to have a
heart of steel not to be moved by the sight of them fighting
amongst themselves for a single piece of meat they have found on
the floor. The woman's eldest daughters make flat bread in a
home made clay oven. They shared with me some of their bread.
And in doing so gave me a meal far more generous than the
richest of my friends has ever given me.
This woman is just one of the hospital's
patients. She is dying. But she is undefeated, she is loud and
alive. And with her amongst this rubble and poverty, Palestine
lives, bloody, torn, and divided, but it lives on like an
eternal flame beyond the power of a foreign army to snuff it
out. This is Gaza. This is the 'parish' in which the hospital
But if this hospital works it is because the
staff, Muslims and Christians, work unstintingly to take care of
those around them. The Chief Surgeon is a Muslim and the
Director of the hospital is a Christian, but none of that
matters. In that hospital I saw the message of our Christian
faith, the compassion and love for people, not segregated, blind
to difference. I saw the message of our faith, raw and without
hindrance of theology or denomination. I saw the world that I
would like for my children to see. A world blind to religious
difference, where people stand in dignity shoulder to shoulder
with their neighbors, accepting what makes the other special and
unique. A world where people give of themselves without counting
They need help. Specifically, I would ask you
to pray for them and if ever you are at a loss for words to say
let me share with you their prayer: "Pray not for Arab or Jew,
for Palestinian or Israeli; pray rather for ourselves, that we
might not divide them in our prayers, but keep them both
together in our hearts."
is an Anglican who is from the UK, and leads a professional
services firm in the Middle East.
Jewish Voice for Peace –
toward understanding Gaza
in Gaza is dire, and also confusing for many. JVP has assembled
this newsletter to help clear some of the fog surrounding
current events. Click here for an abridged version of a longer
article by JVP's Director of Education and Policy, Mitchell
Plitnick, offering an analysis of the events in Gaza.
Click here for
the full version of this article
Gaza: Can Disaster Be Avoided?
Back in 2005, Jewish Voice for Peace took to
the streets in San Francisco to protest the just-commencing
Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Of course, JVP was never
opposed to Israel withdrawing its soldiers and checkpoints and
abandoning its settlements in Gaza. But doing the right thing in
the wrong way can be just as bad, in some ways perhaps worse,
than doing the wrong thing, and this was what we saw happening
with the Gaza withdrawal. Sadly, this prediction has come true,
now leaving the Palestinians split between two governing bodies,
leaving Gaza in ruin and chaos and leaving Israel with an
increasingly hostile and dangerous territory on its western
border. The first thing one sees when looking at the current
split among the Palestinians is that the situation is not one
that can last. It's eminently clear that the forces arrayed
against Hamas – the US, Israel, Fatah, the moderate Arab states,
the EU – are not going to be content with the status quo. Fatah
in particular will not just sit idly by and let some 1.5 million
Palestinians be governed by someone else. They will have
considerable support from outside in pressing Hamas,
politically, economically and militarily. For its part, Hamas
has already shown they can and will act aggressively in pursuing
their own position atop Palestinian society.
Right now, reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas does not seem
realistic and there is no third option in the Palestinian
polity. This would seem to indicate that, at least for the time
being, these two groups will continue to work against one
another and that the opportunity to engage the broad spectrum of
the Palestinian people by dealing with a broad-based government
with Abbas at its head is lost. Still, even though the leaders
of Fatah and Hamas have done little more than pay lip service to
the value of national unity among the Palestinians, this value
remains strong among the Palestinian populace. That might
pressure change and force the two groups together at some point.
But such a possibility is not on the radar right now.
On the other hand, the view that seems to be dominating both
Washington and Jerusalem right now is quite distorted. It seems
that the US and Israel believe that they can crush Hamas for
good by strengthening Abbas with a peace summit and encouraging
aggressive actions against Hamas in the West Bank. The latter is
a foolish strategy, and one that has repeatedly bolstered Hamas,
rather than weakened it. Indeed, virtually every attempt by
Israel, the US and much of the rest of the world to harm Hamas
has helped them over the years, and if foreign hands are seen
too clearly in Fatah's attacks on Hamas, support for Fatah, even
from within, will quickly wither.
Many analysts, including this one, have been urging for some
time that Hamas must be dealt with, not shunned. By engaging
Hamas and forcing them into politics rather than ideological
grandstanding, they will be forced to confront the
ineffectiveness of their more extreme positions, which is
precisely what happened after the election. This is why they
were forced to allow Abbas to represent the Palestinian
government in the Arab League vote on their peace proposal, and
to allow him to keep his leading position in any negotiations
and contacts with Israel.
That Abbas will not come back to Ramallah bearing an acceptable
final status resolution is inevitable. The only way he can do
that is to offer at least the hope that Israel can be convinced
to return to something close to the 1967 borders, to share
Jerusalem and to agree to acknowledge the refugees' right of
return, allow a token number back to Israel and compensate the
rest. Abbas need not actually deliver all of that. But the whole
idea of bolstering Abbas with a summit rests on the presumption
that a sufficient number of Palestinians can be convinced that
Abbas, freed of the burden of Hamas, can deliver the minimal
Palestinian demands some time in the near future. Abbas will
need to show some concrete indication that he can pull this off,
and he will have to do so with a very skeptical audience. The
Olmert government is far too weak to even signal the possibility
of such concessions, much less actually make them.
It is far from certain that Fatah would win an all-out battle
for the West Bank. But it is very likely that Israel would be
drawn into a conflict there, either to defend Fatah or because
some Palestinians decide to bring them in with an attack on
Israelis. The resulting violence would expand very quickly, and
would not only quickly bring back, and possibly surpass, the
worst days of the last intifada, but is likely to spark off
conflicts in other areas of the Middle East. There is very
little good that can come of Fatah's aggressive actions against
Hamas in the West Bank, and the potential for a great deal of
And there are new concerns, ones which Israel had better take
very seriously. For quite some time now, we have heard from
Mahmoud Abbas as well as from Hamas leaders of attempts by
al-Qaeda and similar groups to gain a foothold within the
Palestinian Territories. Thus far, these have been rebuffed, and
nothing in the current developments will make either Fatah or
Hamas more receptive to such groups. But the general chaos in
Gaza may well make it much more difficult for the Palestinians
to keep these groups out, and if Hamas is proven to be a
failure, the radical elements in Palestinian society are going
to turn not to more moderate elements, but to still more radical
ones, giving these groups a foothold. This would be exceedingly
dangerous for Israelis. Whatever one thinks of Hamas or Fatah,
they are not the same at all as al-Qaeda, simplistic Western
propaganda notwithstanding. The last thing any Israeli civilian
wants is to see al-Qaeda operating on their doorstep.
The simple fact is that there can never be any progress between
Israel and the Palestinians if a big chunk of the Palestinian
community, the Islamists, are excluded from the process. Not
only will many other Palestinians support their right to be
heard, but groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad can easily derail
any peace process with attacks on Israelis, as they have so
often done in the past. They need to be engaged so they will
have incentive to refrain from such actions. The alternative is
not just failure, it is a brand of radicalism that will be much
Any crisis contains in it the seeds of progress. These
opportunities have been routinely missed by all parties. This
one has the potential for serious consequences throughout the
region, as well as the potential to make any kind of peace
unrealistic for years to come. That must not be allowed to
happen. Israel, the US, the PA, Hamas, the UN, the Arab League,
indeed, the entire world has got to allow good judgment and
cooler heads to prevail in this matter. If everyone continues to
only pursue their own political ends, disaster is sure to
follow. But history has witnessed occasions where people with
understanding of prevailing conditions and dynamics and
sufficient diplomatic skill overcome politics to bring about
significant progress, and it is not unusual for such things to
happen just at the brink of disaster. Let's hope that is the
course that is chosen. In fact, let's demand it.
Church World Service responds to the Gaza crisis
Situation report from CWS,
June 18, 2007
Amid tentative signs that the situation in
Gaza Strip was emerging from a crisis situation after a week of
violence and uncertainty, the European Union said it plans to
restore humanitarian aid to the beleaguered Palestinian
Authority. That follows the Fatah-allied government's move to
cut off ties with the radical faction Hamas, which now controls
the Gaza Strip.
Runs on markets in Gaza in the wake of fears
of food shortages had subsided with assurances from Israel that
some humanitarian assistance would go into Gaza, the Associated
Press (AP) news agency reported today.
Still, as Action by Churches Together (ACT)
International reported, the coming days and weeks could see a
deepening instability in economic and social conditions,
translating into thousands of families having no access to food,
cash, medical care and other needed essentials, particularly as
the new school year approaches.
Last week's fighting left more than 100 dead
and hundreds more wounded, with extensive damage done to an
already weak infrastructure. Hospitals became battlegrounds and
medical staff members were unable to report to work.
See the full report, including actions being taken, on the CWS
An urgent notice from Churches for Middle East Peace
Jerusalem Church Leaders Urge End to Gaza Violence, Work
June 15, 2007 [posted here
The violence and chaos in Gaza is cause for alarm and dismay for all
those who yearn for peace in the Holy Land. The current crisis is bringing
untold hardship to ordinary Gazans, threatens to spill over into the West
Bank and Israel and jeopardizes progress toward a resolution of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The present situation underscores the urgent
need for a political process that can restore hope for peace to Palestinians
Below is a statement from the heads of churches in Jerusalem calling for
an end to the fighting between Fatah and Hamas and urging all sides to work
for peace and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
Lutheran Bishop Dr. Munib Younan, in a separate statement, emphasized the
need for urgent work on the peace process, "If
you want to bring an end to the horrific violence in the Middle East and if
you are concerned as I am by the rampant growth of religious extremism:
please, I urge you from Jerusalem, get serious about implementing the
An urgent call from The Heads of
Churches to the members of Fateh and Hamas
June 14th, 2007
On the recent 40th Anniversary of the Occupation we urged all
sides to work for peace and the establishment of an independent Palestinian
state. How painful and awful then that now we have to say stop all domestic
The fighting has struck at the most vulnerable timing thus diverting
International attention away from the National issue with its priorities and
so disappointing the Palestinian people's hope of attaining independence
together with freedom from Occupation with its related aspects.
This domestic fighting where the brother draws his weapon in the face of
his brother is detrimental to all the aspirations of achieving security and
stability for the Palestinian People.
In the name of the One and only God as well as in the name of each
devastated Palestinian many of whom are still dying, we urge our brothers in
Fateh and Hamas movements to listen to the voice of reason, truth and
wisdom. So we implore that you immediately announce the cessation of all
bloody fighting and to return back to the path of dialogue and attempt
through understanding to solve all differences. In this urgent appeal we
would draw attention to that which both parties have in common assuring them
that it is greater that their differences. The national and land cause must
be greater than any other consideration.
In this belief we urgently ask both movements to listen and put aside all
weapons so concentrating on ending the Occupation in a peaceful manner based
on National fundamentals and International legitimacy in order to achieve
freedom for all the people together with an independent Palestinian state
with Jerusalem as its Capital.
|Outspoken political scientist Norman
Finkelstein denied tenure at
Norman Finkelstein, the
political scientist whose bid for a permanent position at DePaul University
stirred up charges of anti-Semitism, personal vendettas and outside
interference in the hiring process, was informed Friday [June 8, 2007] that
he had been denied tenure by the university.
The full report in the New York Times >>
The Chicago Sun-Times reported on Friday >>
The Chronicle of Higher Education notes that DePaul University’s
president, the Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, affirmed the decision against
granting tenure, adding that the intense outside interest in the case "was
unwelcome and inappropriate and had no impact on either the process or the
outcome of this case."
A Roman Catholic priest was quoted to your WebWeaver, by a friend, as
Anyone who denies the long arm of the powerful Israeli lobby in
America need only to note today that distinguished Professor Norman
Finkelstein of De Paul University was denied tenure. Without any doubt
this was due to his outspoken criticism of Israeli policies. This was a
great triumph for leading Zionist scoundrel Alan Dershowitz and his
crusade to have Finkelstein denied tenure. Finkelstein's great sin has
been his defense of the Palestinian people and his criticism of Israeli
policies toward them. Because Finkelstein's family were Holocaust
survivors and his Jewish credentials impeccable his courageous stance
for justice was intolerable for the likes of Dershowitz and the Israeli
The greater shame is that of the Catholic university of De Paul for
knuckling in to the pressures from the Zionist lobby. I have attended
Finkelstein's brilliant lectures and treasure his autographed book.
This is a disgrace and a violation of academic freedom. The excuse
given for tenure denial is limp and contrived. Shame on De Paul.
Click here to read Dr.
Finkelstein's letter to Commissioners
to the 217th General Assembly, discussing the issue of Israel and divestment
as they prepared for the Assembly.
on the attacks on Finkelstein because of his criticism of Israel >>
June 10 Rally in Washington, DC:
Calling for an End to Israel's
40-Year Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem
The Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle
East Peace (WIAMEP) and Friends of Sabeel North America invite
everyone to meet at 1 p.m. in front of the National Gallery of
Art, East Building, on 4th St. just south of Pennsylvania Ave.
We'll go together to the West Lawn of the Capital for the 2 p.m.
rally. For a complete list of events for June 10-11 and a list
of rally speakers, see
40 YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS: 40 YEARS OF OCCUPATION
Sabeel’s 2nd International Young Adult
Conference to be held this summer
Sabeel is proud to announce its second International Young Adult
Conference to be held July 19-29, 2007 under the theme 40 Years in the
Wilderness: 40 Years of Occupation. Sabeel’s vision for this
conference is to gather, network, and further educate young leaders from
Palestine and around the world during this 40th year of the
Occupation, so that they may be trained, commissioned, and equipped with the
tools to act in advocacy to end the Occupation.
During this conference, young adults
(ages 18-35) will travel together through Jerusalem and the West Bank to
learn more about current realities in Palestine, visit biblical sites, and
become trained in international advocacy for Peace with Justice in the Holy
Land. The conference will include visits to Palestinian towns and villages,
events celebrating Palestinian culture, worship, biblical reflections and
volunteer experience. There will also be an emphasis on advocacy workshops
and opportunities to share experiences and ideas with Palestinian and
International young adults from around the world.
The registration and program fee for the conference is
$700. This includes all of participants’ land costs—food, accommodations,
ground transportation, speakers and activities—but it does not include
airfare. For those interested in traveling in the Galilee there will be
an option for a two-night tour for an additional $150 after the conference.
Application forms, scholarship application forms, and additional
information are available at
The registration deadline is June 15th. Please feel free to
contact the young adult conference coordinators at
ABOUT SABEEL: Sabeel is an ecumenical
grassroots liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians.
Inspired by the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, this liberation
theology seeks to deepen the faith of Palestinian Christians, promote
unity, justice and love. Sabeel also works to promote a more accurate
international awareness regarding the identity, presence, and witness of
Palestinian Christians as well as their contemporary concerns. It
encourages individuals and groups worldwide to work for a just,
comprehensive, and enduring peace informed by truth and empowered by
prayer and action.
Norman Finkelstein under attack by pro-Israel campaigners
as he is considered for tenure at DePaul University
Over the years, Norman Finkelstein has
spoken out as a Jew, criticizing the State of Israel for its suppression of
Palestinian freedom and dignity. He testified at the 2006 General Assembly
as the issue of divestment and criticism of Israeli oppression of the
Palestinian territories were hotly debated.
A friend writes that "Norman Finkelstein has long been the
target of a sustained campaign from the Israel Lobby to discredit him as a
person and a scholar, thereby undermining his critiques of the State of
Israel and the occupation. The latest effort includes trying to prevent him
from getting tenure at DePaul University, a Roman Catholic institution where
he has taught for the past six years. He is down to the last phase of this
process, having been approved by the faculty committee; the dean will be
making a decision by May." Read the
Chronicle of Higher Education account of this struggle >>
You’ll find much more information on Finkelstein’s own
website, and also in a lengthy
written by the Middle Eastern Studies Association
to the President of DePaul University in his
defense – and in defense of academic freedom.
World Council of Churches launches new Israeli-Palestinian peace
The World Council of Churches (WCC) says it is will launch in June an
international, ecumenical peace initiative for peace in Israel and the
Palestinian territories. An initial meeting will occur June 17-21 in Jordan.
"The initiative is a major step toward the WCC’s goal of mobilizing churches
around the world for peace with justice in the Middle East," the WCC said in
a March 7 statement. "Its launch will take place during this year's
observances of 40 years under occupation
The full report, from Ecumenical News International
A Jewish perspective on
the "New Anti-Semitism" conference
We recently posted
a report by Geoff Browning
on a conference held in the San Francisco Bay Area on the topic, "Finding
Our Voice: The Conference for Progressives Constructively Addressing
Anti-Semitism." Sponsored by a number of Jewish organizations, it
focused largely on what was described as "the New Anti-Semitism."
Also attending the conference was Craig Wiesner, who
sometimes describes himself as a "Jew-byterian," a Jewish man whose life
partner, Derrick, is a Presbyterian. He has written
detailed report-with-commentary on the event, and we encourage you to
take a look at this perspective along with that presented by his friend,
also a Presbyterian, Geoff Browning.
UN envoy criticizes hits Israeli 'apartheid'
(It’s not just Jimmy Carter)
BBC News reports recently from Gaza that a UN human rights
envoy has compared Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories to
elements of apartheid.
The UN's Special Rapporteur, John Dugard, describes the
regime as being designed to dominate and systematically oppress the occupied
Mr Dugard is a South African professor of international
law assigned to monitor Israeli human rights abuses. He has extensively
studied apartheid in South Africa and has compared it to what he saw under
The full story
Years in the Wilderness: 40 Years of Occupation
Sabeel International Young Adult Conference
July 19- July 29, 2007
|Do you want to know more about Current Realities in
Palestine, during this 40th year of the Occupation?|
|Do you want to visit Biblical Sites and share Biblical
reflection with Young Adults from around the world?|
|Are you between the ages of 18 and 35 and want to be
involved in advocacy for peace with justice in the Holy Land?|
If you answered "yes" to these questions, then we invite
you to participate in Sabeel’s 2nd International Young Adult
Our vision for this conference is to gather, network, and
further educate young leaders from Palestine and around the world, during
40th year of the Occupation; so that they may be trained,
commissioned, and equipped with the tools to act in advocacy to end the
The conference will include:
|Visits to Palestinian Towns and Villages |
|Events Celebrating Palestinian Culture Worship
|and Biblical Reflections |
|Volunteer Experience |
|Advocacy Workshops |
|Sharing Experiences and Ideas with Palestinian Young
The registration and program fee for the conference is
This includes all of your land costs – food,
accommodations, ground transportation, speakers and activities – but it does
not include airfare. When scheduling flights, please keep in mind that
participants should arrive on July 18th.
SPECIAL OFFER- For those interested in traveling in the
Galilee there will be an option for a two-night tour for an additional $150
after the conference.
REGISTER BY JUNE 15th AT
WWW.SABEEL.ORG or e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
ABOUT SABEEL: Sabeel is an ecumenical grassroots
liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians. Inspired by the
life and teaching of Jesus Christ, this liberation theology seeks to deepen
the faith of Palestinian Christians, promote unity, justice and love. Sabeel
also works to promote a more accurate international awareness regarding the
identity, presence, and witness of Palestinian Christians as well as their
contemporary concerns. It encourages individuals and groups worldwide to
work for a just, comprehensive, and enduring peace informed by truth and
empowered by prayer and action.
Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center
British Jews break away from 'pro-Israeli' Board of Deputies of British
organization of British Jews has been launched recently in response to a
perceived pro-Israeli bias in existing Jewish bodies in the UK.
The founders of Independent Jewish Voices, IJV, which will
include such luminaries as the Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter
and the historian Eric Hobsbawm, say that the group is being established as
a counter-balance to the uncritical support for Israeli policies offered by
established bodies such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
The full story >>
Catching up on anti-Semitism – and now it’s
the "new" anti-Semitism
You probably recall the furious criticisms on the Presbyterian Church
(USA) after the 2004 General Assembly approved a call for studying the
possibility of the church’s divesting itself of stocks in companies
currently doing business in or with the State of Israel in ways that support
the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory.
We reported and commented on those attacks at
the time, and have continued to link to many discussions of Israel,
Palestine, and charges of anti-Semitism.
But now a number of Jewish groups in the US are talking about a "new
anti-Semitism," which some observers see as the familiar fear-mongering that
has been practiced so effectively by President Bush and his administration,
using "terrorists" (and of course Arabs and/or Muslims) as the focus of the
The fierce criticisms of Jimmy Carter’s recent book, Palestine: Peace
Not Apartheid, seem to be one current example of what these members of
the "Israel lobby" are calling the new anti-Semitism.
To gain some understanding of what’s happening among our Jewish sisters
and brothers, Geoff Browning, an active participant in the
Israel-Palestine Network attended a conference on "the new
anti-Semitism" in the Bay Area, and shared a report with the group.
He has kindly agreed to let us share it here, as well.
Browning’s essay >>
Facing reality in Bethlehem
Presbyterian Outlook, in its
December 25th issue, published a short article titled "The real
Bethlehem," by Erin Dunigan, an Outlook feature reporter. Dunigan’s
article takes a painfully realistic look at the situation in Israel, and
specifically in Bethlehem, reminding us as Christmas approached that "the
little town of Bethlehem" is no sweet Christmas-card place under Israeli
You can read
Dunigan’s article in Outlook >>
The Rev. Al Sandalow of Seattle, Washington, objected to
this view, since on his brief visit to Jerusalem last March he saw no such
problems. He wrote:
I’m not a big fan of the wall Israel has built, but I
don’t understand how it has affected tourism.
I was in Jerusalem in March. I jumped in a taxi at the
Jaffa Gate and was at the Church of the Nativity in less than 30 minutes.
That was less time tan the two previous, pre-wall, visits. I know that
Israel can close down all the checkpoints, but that seems to happen seldom
Overall, tourism has been down in Israel, and the
Lebanon war six months ago has had an effect on people who six months ago
decided not to take that trip to Israel they had been planning. Most of
the Christian pilgrims who visit Jerusalem make a trip to Bethlehem.
In response, Matt Middleton, a Presbyterian Mission
Volunteer who is living and working in Bethlehem wrote this comment:
A privileged American tourist to the Holy Land will
rarely notice the injustices found here.
The problem with checkpoints and Israel's separation
barrier is not so much that they are closed down for arbitrary reasons,
but that travel permits are not being granted to the vast majority of
"Nobody deserves this treatment. Not Palestinians. Not
Israelis. Not even dogs." These words of Dr. Nuha Khoury, Dean of Dar Al-Kalima
College in Bethlehem, refer to her and her mother's experience of trying
to obtain permission from the Israeli Defense Force to enter Jerusalem for
Consequently, job losses, in addition to the narrowing
scope of tourism in places like Bethlehem, are squeezing the Palestinian
economy to its breaking point.
According to Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, Pastor of the
Lutheran Christmas Church of Bethlehem, $3.5 billion of tourism income is
generated annually in Israel/Palestine. Two percent of that enters the
Palestinian economy of the West Bank.
A brief visit to the Church of the Nativity will never
reveal the reality of daily Palestinian life, nor will the luxury of being
able to afford an Israeli taxi disclose the waning quality of life found
today in the modern ghetto of Bethlehem.
Mission Volunteer International
Presbyterian Church (USA)
An Israeli Jew looks seriously at the realities of
David Grossman, who lives near Jerusalem, is the author of
The Yellow Wind, a report on life in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
He gave this speech at the annual
memorial ceremony for Yitzhak Rabin, November 4, 2006, in the presence of
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Speaking as an Israeli "whose love for this land
is tough and complicated, but nevertheless unequivocal," he calls his people
face the reality of their current situation, and to change their stance
toward the Palestinian people.
I ask you, how can it be that a people with our powers
of creativity and regeneration, a nation that has known how to pick itself
up out of the dust time and again, finds itself today – precisely when it
has such great military power-in such a feeble, helpless state? A state in
which it is again a victim, but now a victim of itself, of its fears and
despair, of its own shortsightedness?
Maybe he should be invited to speak in the US, too?
The full speech, in the New York Review of Books >>
This page contains reports and links
For reports added in 2010 >>
Items archived from 2006 >>
Reports from 2005
are now archived.
For archives from September through
December, 2004 >>
July and August, 2004 >>
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!