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Report on Petition Delivery at Israeli Embassy

#Nakba71

Washington - May 15, 2019 — On the 71st commemoration of the Nakba, the Catastrophe of Palestinian exile and ethnic cleansing, activists from around the greater Washington metro area gathered outside the Embassy of Israel. The multi-faith delegation of lay people and clergy was there to present the Kairos Palestine—Global Kairos for Justice international petition, and a call to freedom and human rights.

The Israeli embassy refused to take the delivery.

The petition to the government of Israel was signed by by over 3200 individuals and organizations from 51 countries. Today’s delivery was linked to other similar global events which simultaneously commemorated the Nakba in speeches, actions at government buildings, embassies and consulates, as well as conferences and marches.

The Washington delegation of human rights defenders were gathered with Palestinian flags, posters and signs, wearing Palestinian keffiyehs, and Palestinian clergy stoles. Many of those gathered were Palestinian Americans whose families were exiled at the creation of Israel in 1948 or in the years since. Others were from faith-based organizations including advocacy networks from many church denominations as well as members of FOSNA, (Friends of Sabeel North America), JVP (Jewish Voice for Peace), and other solidarity groups from wider justice struggles.

The group was met by embassy staff who, upon learning of the petition, shut and locked the gates to the compound, refusing to speak with the delegation or receive the petition. Instead, they called the Secret Service who responded by asking for the details of the action. The petition-delivery group stayed clear of the gates, remaining on public space on the sidewalk at the corner outside the Israeli embassy.

The Rev. Graylan Hagler called the group to silence, inviting all to become spiritually grounded in prayer, in witness, and in the continuing pursuit of freedom from oppression and occupation for Palestinians everywhere. He first invited Imam Ali Siddiqui from the local Muslim community to pray, followed by other prayers by a diverse group of Christian pastors as well as an Orthodox Jewish justice activist.

IMG 3195Praying needs singing to bring those words to action, so the petition pilgrims were led by Rev. Hagler in “Oh, Freedom,” the post-Civil War African-American freedom song often associated with the American Civil Rights Movement. Today’s group changed some of the lyrics to lift up the longing and determination of the Palestinian people to break the chains that enslave them to occupation and exile.

The group proceeded two by two to the gates of the Embassy of Israel where the petition was read aloud into the space of the Israeli diplomatic presence in our national capital. Rev. Hagler preached to those gathered at the gate, urging all to work for justice for all Palestinians, remembering our own government’s complicity in human rights violations by the state of Israel, as well as the complicity of the leaders of both nations.

Our struggle will continue until dignity, equality and freedom for Palestine is realized.

 

 

 

 

Some of the multi-faith Washington delegation
who attempted to deliver the Global Kairos for Justice Petition to the Israeli Embassy.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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IPMN Condemns Israel’s New Apartheid Law favoring Jewish Citizens

July 20, 2018 — It is with heavy hearts that the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) recognizes that Israeli lawmakers this past week gave final approval to codifying inequality through new legislation, dubbed “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People.”  

In essence, this new law closes the door on every possibility our newly approved church policy recognizes for the assurance of equal rights for all citizens of Israel, regardless of their religion. Israel has now dropped the pretense of being a democracy and having equal rights for all its citizens.

At its General Assembly meeting in St. Louis, Missouri last month, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) overwhelmingly approved the overture “On Advocating for the Human Rights of All Citizens of Israel.” This measure, 1) Affirms the support of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights; 2) Directs the Office of the General Assembly to write to the United States President and Secretary of State urging them to use diplomatic tools to bring Israel into full compliance with the Universal Declaration; and 3) Advocates for the cessation of all actions that block equal access of all citizens in Israel’s legal system, citizenship privileges, income and employment, distribution of resources and social welfare, accessibility to land, educational resources, availability to health resources and political participation.

Israeli Palestine advocate Miko Peled, whose grandfather Avraham Katznelson signed Israel’s Proclamation of Independence, and whose father, General Mattityah Peled served in the Israeli military during the 1967 war, has stated that the “Knesset’s new Nation State Law codifies Israel as an Apartheid State.” Peled goes on to acknowledge that although Israel’s Declaration of Independence never uses the word democracy, it does say that Israel “will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants…” and “it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.” Israel’s new law renders these proclamations moot.

Omar Barghouti, friend of the Israel Palestine Mission Network and co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, also stated that with this new law, Israel has declared itself an apartheid state. Barghouti calls for other governments to hold Israel accountable, saying, “From now on, it will not just be legal to racially discriminate against the indigenous Palestinian citizens of the state, it will be constitutionally mandated and required. This should stir people, institutions and governments to take effective action to hold Israel accountable.” Barghouti concludes, “No Israeli far-right government, with all the blind support it receives from xenophobic and outright fascist forces in the United States and Europe, will ever extinguish our aspiration for freedom, justice and equality.”

Since its inception by General Assembly mandate in 2004, the Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been striving for a “Just Peace” in Israel and Palestine. Our network has consistently embraced that cause by advocating for boycott of all Israeli settlement products, for divestment from companies that profit from non-peaceful pursuits in the occupied Palestinian Territories, and calling upon the United States government to apply economic sanctions towards the Israeli government until it complies with U.S. and international human rights law. IPMN has also consistently called for equal rights of Palestinian citizens in Israel and for basic human rights in the occupied Palestinian Territories.

Although some have sought to characterize our mandated work in advocacy and education as anti-Israel or antisemitic, we know better. Criticizing the policies of the political state of Israel is neither anti-Israel nor antisemitic . We are FOR human rights for ALL peoples, and that includes supporting intersectional justice partners such as Black Lives Matter, Native American rights groups, and justice groups for immigrants and refugees.

In accordance with our mandate, and because our denomination now has policies calling for justice for all Palestinians, we will continue our work and seek to fulfill our calling. Therefore we condemn Israel’s new Nation State Law, and respectfully call upon network members and partners as well as all Presbyterians and members of our partner churches, to continue to pray and strive for the human rights of all Palestinians in Israel, Gaza and the occupied Palestinian Territories, and in the Diaspora.  The IPMN will never shrink from this important work, no matter what laws may be passed by the Israeli government or the United States Congress that may try to castigate Palestine and its indigenous population. 

 


 
 
Sabeel Ecumenical Theology Center statement:
 

AUG 8, 2018 — Henry Siegman, a former National Director of the American Jewish Congress said, “Israel has crossed the threshold from ‘the only democracy in the Middle East to the only apartheid regime in the Western world.’”

We have always viewed Israel’s democracy with great skepticism, but now, its Nation-State law validates its apartheid status.

On Thursday, July 19, 2018 the Israeli Knesset passed... Read more.

 
 
 
najjar3
 
Why are the Palestinians in Gaza protesting?
 

More than 50 years of occupation and 10 years of blockade have made the lives of 1.9 million Palestinians living inside the Gaza Strip unbearable. That is why they are now protesting and risking their lives.  ~Norwegian Refugee Council

 

1.9 million people are confined

Gaza is described by many Palestinians and humanitarian actors as the world’s largest open-air prison, where 1.9 million Palestinians live behind a blockade and are refused access to the other occupied Palestinian areas and the rest of the world.

7 out of 10 are refugees

Most Gazans come from families who were forced to leave their villages in 1948. Many have also been forced to leave their homes due to war and violence. Four years after the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2014, 23,500 Palestinians in Gaza are still unable to return to their homes.

700 children have been killed

The oldest children in Gaza have lived through three wars that have killed more than 3,800 Palestinians. More than 700 of these were children. Many children have seen family members, relatives, friends or others be killed or seriously injured. 

50% are traumatized by war

Half of all children have been psychologically traumatized by war, occupation and blockade. Close to 300,000 children need psychosocial help.

70% of all schools run double shifts

Close to 70 per cent of all schools run double or triple shifts due to a lack of schools. In addition, lack of electricity reduces the students' chance to learn or do homework. The blockage also stops young people from studying on the West Bank or abroad. According to the UNRWA, the UN's organization for Palestinian refugees, the large cuts in donations from the US may lead to the organization being unable to deliver diesel to 275 schools. These schools may be forced to close down if other countries do not contribute.

42% unemployment

The people in Gaza face the world's largest unemployment rate. 42 percent of the capable, adult population stand without compensated work. For those between 15 and 29 years old, the unemployment rate has risen to 62 percent. Today, the people in Gaza are 25 percent poorer than they were when the first part of the Oslo agreement was signed in 1993.

84% are in need of humanitarian aid

1.6 million, or 84 percent, of the population in Gaza need humanitarian aid. The number is increasing, and the UN calculate that more than two million people will need humanitarian aid by 2020.

41% have too little food

4 out of 10 families struggle to acquire enough food. In Gaza, more than 830,000 Palestinians need assistance in the form of food or nutritional supplements. According to UNRWA, the UN's organization for Palestinian refugees, the large cuts in funding from the US will cause the UN to have to reduce food support. Most of those who will be affected are already living below the poverty line.

98% of ground water is undrinkable

98 percent of the water in Gaza is contaminated and undrinkable. Gaza had beautiful beaches, but every day now, 24 million gallons of unfiltered sewage is pumped out along the shoreline.

2 - 4 hours of electricity

The Gazan population cannot count on more than 2-4 hours of continuous electrical power a day. Every day, Gaza experiences up to 22 hours of power outage.

35% of arable land is unavailable

35 percent of the land eligible for farming is unavailable and fishermen are blocked from 85 percent of the waters on the coast of Gaza due to Israeli security zones. 

7% of the children suffer from stunted growth

Poverty and lack of food has led to 7 percent of the children suffering from stunted growth due to long-term malnutrition. 60 percent of the children are anaemic.

45% are refused medical treatment outside Gaza 

Those in need of specialized medical treatment must apply for permission from the Israeli government to leave Gaza. Many applications are declined, or at best delayed, and many risk dying while they wait. In October 2017, the World Health Organization reported that only 55 percent of the applications to leave Gaza for medical treatment were granted.

source: Norwegian Refugee Council at nrc.no


 

splitscreenColonialism exposed as Gaza resists and protests

 

Colonialism - the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country or people, occupying it with temporary or permanent settlers, and exploiting it economically or otherwise, not allowing the colonized to gain citizenship or determine their own fate, present or future.

The Great March of Return at the Gaza border in May 2018 brought into stunning focus the current realities undergirding the new IPMN study guide, Why Palestine Matters, The Struggle to End Colonialism

The split screen US television coverage on May 14, 2018 featured the spectacular drama of colonialism unfolding in real time, with a terrible contrast:

On screen #1, the US administration celebrated moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, and unilaterally and in contravention of international law, recognized the contested city as Israel's capital. 

On screen #2, unarmed and mostly non-violent protesters ran for cover in Gaza as tear gas rained down and Israeli snipers took aim at them.

The whole world watched the unabashed arrogance with horror as the powerful did as they pleased at the expense of the powerless. Reminiscent of the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960 in South Africa, nonviolent demonstrations turned deadly, as Israeli snipers with orders of ‘shoot to kill’ quickly killed dozens of Palestinians, and shot at thousands more in the days to come.

Here are some frequently asked questions:

What is the Gaza strip? 

The Gaza Strip is a narrow strip of Palestinian territory along the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Just 25 miles long and six miles wide, the tiny coastal enclave is one of the most densely populated places on earth and is home to approximately 1.9 million people, mostly refugees who trace their displacement to the creation of Israel in 1948.

What is Land Day? 

The date of the Great March marked what Palestinians call Land Day which began as a 1976 protest of Israel’s  appropriation of Palestinian land in the Galilee, inside Israel. Six Palestinian citizens of Israel who were protesting the land grab were shot and killed by Israeli border patrol. Since then, March 30 is commemorated as Land Day annually for a continuing, nonviolent fight for the land. The  six-week nonviolent protest in 2018 began on Land Day. 

How is it colonialism? 

  • Israel maintains control of Gaza’s borders, airspace, and sea access, upheld through military incursions. Gaza’s economy is captive to Israel.
  • Israel is responsible under international law for the welfare of Gaza’s population and controls everything that enters or leaves.
  • Israel is the controlling power and exemplifies the worst kind of colonial overlord in modern times.
  • The people are ‘subjects’ under the control of Israel but can never achieve citizenship.

Isn’t Hamas to blame? 

Contrary to popular opinion, Hamas was not the originator of The Great March of Return. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has catalyzed Palestinian civil society there to action. The groups organizing the March include vibrant social groups and organizations, women’s organizations, trade unions, youth organizations, sports clubs, etc. They have decided to march to the fence at the ‘border’ to demand their Right of Return. 

What is the purpose of The Great March of Return?

As is their right by international law, Palestinians have developed a robust and long-standing tradition of non-violent resistance. A current example of non-violent resistance, the 2018 Great March of Return intent was to highlight:

  • the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, or ‘Catastrophe’ referring to the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and land in 1947 and 1948 when Israel declared itself to be a Jewish state in historic Palestine. 
  • the Palestinian Right of Return, a right enshrined in international law according to UN Resolution 194. Israel has never allowed Palestinian refugees to return but maintains the right of any Jewish person from anywhere in the world to.

What are the casualty numbers for 2018 protests?

As of June 3, 2018, Israeli soldiers have:
  •  killed 121 Palestinians, and injured over 14,000
  •  snipers alone killed 13 Palestinian children and injured 2,096 others, including 1,029 women
  •  332 of the wounded Palestinians suffered life-threatening injuries
  •  3,422 suffered moderate wounds 9,436 suffered mild injuries
  •  5,572 suffered the effects of tear gas inhalation.
source for casualty figures:

 

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Aida key

Palestine Refugees by Numbers

  • Palestinians are the largest and longest suffering group of refugees in the world. 

  • One in three refugees world wide is Palestinian. 

  • There are about 7.2 million Palestinian refugees worldwide. 

  • More than 4.3 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants displaced in 1948 are registered for humanitarian assistance with the United Nations. 

  • Another 1.7 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants, also displaced in 1948, are not registered with the UN.

  • About 355,000 Palestinians and their descendants are internally displaced i.e. inside present-day “Israel”. 

  • When the West Bank and Gaza Strip were occupied in 1967, the UN reported that approximately 200,000 Palestinians fled their homes. These 1967 refugees and their descendants today number about 834,000 persons. 

  • As a result of house demolition, revocation of residency rights and construction of illegal settlements on confiscated Palestinian owned-land, at least 57,000 Palestinians have become internally displaced in the occupied West Bank. This number includes 15,000 people so far displaced by the construction of Israel’s Annexation Wall. 

  • Such dispossession of the Palestinian population continues today.

 

Al AWDA LARGE WEB LOGOphoto: Entrance to Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, the key has the become a symbol of return.

source: al-awda.org

 

Presbyterian seal v1tct7 1ewz171Summary of recent PC(USA) actions on Israel/Palestine Issues

(click here for Printer friendly PDF file)

 

In 2010, the 219th GA actions reaffirming historical PC(USA) 

positions on Israel-Palestine, called for:

  • Immediate cessation of all violence, whether perpetrated by Israelis or Palestinians

  • End of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and diversion of water resources

  • Immediate freeze both on establishment or expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem

  • Relocation by Israel of Separation Barrier to ’67 border

  • Withholding of US government aid to state of Israel as long as Israel persists in creating new settlements

  • Continuing corporate engagement through Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) with companies profiting from sale/use of their products for non-peaceful purposes and/or violation of human rights

  • A shared status for Jerusalem

  • Equal rights for Palestinian citizens of the state of Israel

  • Cessation of systematic violation of human rights by any party, specifically, practices of admin. detention, collective punishment, torture of prisoners and suspects, home demolitions and evictions, and deportation of dissidents

  • Commended for study the Kairos Palestine document (“A Moment of Truth”), endorsing document’s emphases on hope for liberation, nonviolence, love of enemy, and reconciliation.

 

2010 - 219th General Assembly - Minneapolis, MN

  • Affirmed Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign nation within secure and internationally recognized borders in accordance with United Nations resolutions.

  • Stated that the Israeli occupation leads to the denial of human rights for Palestinians and is a violation of international laws.

  • Acknowledged with great concern the Israeli settlements with a current population of 285,000 in the West Bank and 198,700 in East Jerusalem.

  • Noted that the growth of the number of settlements and settlers is perceived by many as an attempt by Israel to prevent the establishment of an economically viable Palestinian State.

  • Acknowledged the numerous “Israeli-only” bypass roads that carve up the Palestinian homeland and connect one settlement to another.

  • Expressed concern that these roads have a devastating effect on the ability of Palestinians to live out a normal life – to visit family, farm, family property, to seek medical treatment, to secure employment, and to travel freely in one’s own country.

  • Acknowledged that three quarters of the separation wall/barrier is inside the West Bank rather than on the 1967 internationally recognized border between Israel and Palestine.

  • Noted that the location of the separation wall/barrier is in violation of international law, is perceived as an impediment to peace, and perceived as an effort to annex Palestinian land and water resources.

  • Stated that it is estimated that 24,145 Palestinian homes have been demolished in the West Bank since 1967.

  • Stated the overwhelming consensus of the committee was that “Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is a sin against God and other fellow human beings.”

 

2012 - 220th General Assembly - Pittsburgh, PA

  • Called for the boycott of ALL Israeli products coming from the occupied Palestinian Territories, including AHAVA Dead Sea Laboratories Beauty Products, and all date products of Hadiklaim, The Israel Date Growers Co-Operative Ltd, often marked by the brand names King Solomon Dates and Jordan River Dates.

  • Directed the Stated Clerk to communicate this action to all other PC(USA) councils and entities and invite and strongly encourage those groups and organizations to endorse this boycott until significant progress toward Palestinian rights and independence can be reported to the General Assembly or General Assembly Mission Agency Board.

  • After 8 years of corporate engagement, the MRTI report recommended divestment from 3 American companies profiting from the Occupation. It was approved in Committee but the Minority Report was substitued for the Main Motion in Plenary by two votes (out of 666 total). The Minority Report called for investing in Palestine rather than divesting from the three American (not Israeli) companies that profit from nonpeaceful pursuits. The Presbyterian Foundation was instructed to find projects to invest in. [MRTI is the Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee of the PC(USA) which does corporate engagement with corporations.] 

 

2014 - 221st General Assembly - Detroit, MI

  • Instructed the Presbyterian Foundation and Board of Pensions of the PC(USA) to divest from Caterpillar, Inc., Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions, in accord with our church’s decades-long socially responsible investment (SRI) history; and not to reinvest in these companies until MRTI, the Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee of the PC(USA), is fully satisfied that product sales/services by these companies are no longer in conflict with our church investment policy.

    For full language see: bitly.com/GA2014DivestLanguage

  • Reaffirmed the commitment of the PC(USA) to the human rights of all children, particularly the children of Palestine and Israel.

  • Reaffirmed the support of the PC(USA) for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and affirms its support for the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement on children in armed conflict.

  • Directed the Presbyterian Mission Agency to engage in advocacy and public witness for the human rights of children in Palestine and Israel in relation to widespread and systematic patterns of ill-treatment and torture within the Israeli military detention system.

 

2016 - 222nd General Assembly - Portland, OR

After years of educating Presbyterians about what is really happening in Palestine, the measures passed by the 222nd General Assembly took our pursuit of justice to the next level. The 222nd Assembly did the following:

  • Advocated for the Safety and Well-being of Children of Palestine and Israel

  • Upheld the Peoples and Partners in the Middle East and in the U.S.

  • Called for Continuing Dialogue and Relationship with RE/MAX Corporation as the PC(USA) calls upon the company to cease selling property in West Bank settlements.

  • Passed the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy report entitled: For Human Values in the Absence of a Just Peace

  • Passed the overture to Prayerfully Study the Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

  • Affirmed Nonviolent Means of Resistance Against Human Oppression

  • Defeated an attempt to sever PC(USA) ties with the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation

 

2018 - 223rd General Assembly - St. Louis, MO

  • Overwhelmingly opposed federal and state laws designed to suppress Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns in support of Palestinian human rights. the GA/PC(USA) opposes the muzzling of debate and discussion about Israel’s illegal military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

  • Expressed “profound grief and sorrow” for the families of Palestinians killed during the protests, and prayers for recovery for those injured. The Assembly further deplored the killing of more than twenty Palestinian medics, and renewed the call of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for an end to decade-old Israeli blockade of Gaza, which has been condemned by the UN and human rights organizations as a form of collective punishment.

  • Urged RE/MAX, LLC to do “everything within its legal and moral power” to stop facilitating the sale and rental of properties in Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law and longstanding official US policy.  The action urged RE/MAX to no longer refer any clients to agents or brokers involved in the sale or rental of properties in the occupied areas.

  • Called for the use of diplomatic tools by the government of the United States to bring Israel into full compliance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by granting full equality to its citizens who are Palestinian, by “changing its laws, policies, and practices that favor its Jewish citizens and discriminate against its Christian and Muslim citizens and other ethnic minorities.”

 

 

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All General Assembly business and actions are archived at pc-biz.org.

Please look under Mideast Committee or Peacemaking Committee for each assembly's policy language.

 

 

 

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