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IPMN Calls Out the Sham that is the US “Peace Plan”

[See also: PC(USA) Stated Clerk's Statement here.] 

January 30, 2020 —The Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) denounces the deceitful US “peace plan” and stands with those seeking justice for all in Israel and Palestine.

There should be no surprise at the injustice of what has been proclaimed the “ultimate peace plan” for Palestine and Israel. For those who have paid attention, this is nothing new; it is simply the same old offer to share an ever-shrinking piece of power and opportunity, to a Palestinian community decimated already by ethnic cleansing. The plan is a house that the US has helped build over the last 50 years of Israeli military occupation.

Nathan Thrall of the International Crisis Group confirms in the New York Times that the US Plan is “the natural culmination of decades of American policy”:

Mr. Trump’s plan has many severe faults: It prioritizes Jewish interests over Palestinian ones. It rewards and even incentivizes settlements and further dispossession of the Palestinians. But none of these qualities represent a fundamental break from the past. The Trump plan merely puts the finishing touches on a house that American lawmakers, Republican and Democrat alike, spent dozens of years helping to build. During the last several decades, as Israel slowly took over the West Bank, putting more than 600,000 settlers in occupied territory, the United States provided Israel with diplomatic backing, vetoes in the United Nations Security Council, pressure on international courts and investigative bodies not to pursue Israel, and billions of dollars in annual aid.

It is a patriarchal attitude which holds that those who win, those who have the power, get to decide what is left for those who have no clout, and even then, that those people should be grateful to have any remainders. This attitude pays no attention to the facts on the ground and more importantly, the people whose homes, families, neighborhoods and entire culture are at risk of being annihilated.

As Christians we are ashamed of the support for this “deal” cooked up by Christian Zionists, who if they see Palestinians at all, see them as a means to an abusive end of a twisted theology: they believe that once all the biblical land of Israel is in Jewish hands, the Messiah will return, but that Jews will have to convert to Christianity or be eternally damned. We condemn this abhorrent triumphalism which leads ultimately to another holocaust of the Jewish people.

As Presbyterians, we understand what it means to be in community, to enter into dialogue and allow the Spirit to provide discernment, and certainly to allow all parties to speak and be heard. We know that this is the way to do justice for peace. As Presbyterians we know process IS theology, and that without inclusion and fairness the process is a sham. Justice does not come easily; it requires the presence of all voices at the table and attentiveness to the heart of each person. 

This so-called deal of the century has no legs. It will get nowhere except to provide an excuse for politicians to proceed along a fallacious trajectory and blame the Palestinian lack of commitment, believing that peace on American terms can be attained with one side completely absent from the planning. 

Indeed, what we heard from the White House this week takes advantage of those who are in a position with fewer diminishing options. Were this plan to be carried out, it would cement the apartheid system that already exists in Israel/Palestine. 

Screen Shot 2020 01 30 at 1.02.13 PMWe as people of conscience must be the wrench in the works that prevents the machinery of obliteration. Our task is to continue to speak of the imbalance of this specious plan and all plans of the past, which have been dishonestly tossed at our Palestinian sisters and brothers

We agree with Adalah Justice Project’s Izzy Mustafa who speaks from his Palestinian experience saying, “We refuse the normalization of Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and Israel’s ongoing human rights violations. We refuse to concede on the occupier’s terms. We will continue this struggle and let the world know that Palestinians will remain on our land -- from the river to the sea.” 

Our task is to make sure that the Palestinian experience is not denied and that they have a voice; that we listen, and the world listens. Our network will continue to work together, with other similar justice communities, to call for freedom and equal rights for all peoples concerned. 

We pray and seek God’s guidance as we continue to move forward without hindrance by anyone’s political gain or colonial aspirations. May it be so.

 

 

 

 


freedomfuture
Photos

Top: Shrinking Palestine/Expanding Israel. More info here: VisualizingPalestine.org
Middle: Non-violent protestors in Gaza. Protestors have been calling for their right of return (guaranteed under international law) at regular Friday protests. Like thousands of others, they are victims of Israeli snipers who shoot at protestors' limbs to incapacitate but not rack up numbers of victims who died. Credit: John Anderson, 2019
Bottom: See Us, Hear Us. for more information, see freedomfuture.org

christianzionism clipartPeace in the Holy Land,

A Palestinian Christian Perspective

 

How Christian Zionism* Impacts the Holy Land

with Jonathan Kuttab and Rev. Dr. Alex Awad

 

Click here for speaking schedule beginning Feb. 1, 2020.


Raised in Bethlehem and Jerusalem, Jonathan Kuttab and Alex Awad are lifelong followers of Jesus, practicing their Christian faith in the places Jesus walked. They were instrumental in starting Bethlehem Bible College, the first and only Evangelical college in the City of Jesus’s birth. Both have taught classes about missions, peace, and the Bible in the Holy Land.

Alex and Jonathan bring their years of knowledge and experience to Churches and Christian institutions across the United States. They offer a unique Palestinian Evanglical perspective on the Holy Land, answering questions many American Evanglicals have, such as:

  • What prevents peace between Israel and Palestine?

  • What does the Bible say to the situation in the Holy Land today?

  • Who are the Palestinian Christians?

  • What are the challenges and opportunities of interfaith dialogue?

    Jonathan and Alex have spent years sharing about these hotly contested topics with Christian love and kindness. They are open to lectures, dialogue, or debates about a wide range of topics. While the tour is geared toward Christian audiences, it will also be beneficial to any people of faith interested in the holy land.

For more information, or to book Jonathan or Alex, please contact Jonathan Brenneman: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | 419-953-5304.



Awad headshotRev. Dr. Alex Awad
 was born and raised in Jerusalem. A master’s graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY, Rev. Awad and his American wife, Brenda, answered the call to go to Bethlehem where they served as missionaries with the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church in Israel/Palestine for 26 years. During his tenure, Rev. Awad was a founding member of Bethlehem Bible College Board of Directors, a teacher, Dean of Students, pastor of an international church in Jerusalem and director of the Shepherd Society—the humanitarian arm of Bethlehem Bible College. In June 2015, Rev. Awad was awarded an honorary doctorate at Bethlehem Bible College’s annual commencement. Rev. Awad is the author of two books: Palestinian Memories: The Story of a Palestinian Mother and Her People and Through the Eyes of the Victims: The Story of The Arab-Israeli Conflict.

 

 

Kuttab headshotJonathan Kuttab is an Evangelical Christian Palestinian human rights attorney. Son of a minister with the Church of God (Pentecostal), and later Nazarene Church, he grew up in a Christian home in Bethlehem, studied in the United States at Messiah College (Brethren in Christ) and graduated from the University of Virginia Law School. He is a member of the Bar Associations in New York, Israel, and Palestine. Mr. Kuttab is on the Board of Bethlehem Bible College, and is the Chairman of the Board of Holy Land Trust. He founded a number of human rights organizations including Al Haq, the Mandela Institute for Palestinian Prisoners, and Nonviolence International. He is also active in many other Christian and civil society organizations in Palestine and internationally. He was the Head of the Legal Committee negotiating the Cairo Agreement of 1994 between Israel and the PLO and has been active in peace and justice issues for many years.

 


 

*What is Christian Zionism?  

Christian Zionism merges theology and politics. It teaches that the secular State of Israel is a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. Christian Zionism believes that this fulfillment of Biblical prophecy began when European Jews started moving to Palestine in the 1800s, and continued as Israel became a nation in 1948. Christian Zionists believe that modern Israel is a continuation of Biblical Israel and therefore should enjoy special privileges. They declare that it is the responsibility of Christians to support the State of Israel and its policies. ... read more

 

pcusa logoPresbyterian Church (USA) 
asks Congress to support HR 496 on the right to boycott

The Presbyterian Church (USA) has sent a letter to the House of Representatives today urging support for H.Res. 496. The resolution led by Reps. Ilhan Omar, John Lewis, and Rashida Tlaib, affirms Americans’ right to boycott.

As reported by Presbyterian News Service, the Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, Director of the Office of Public Witness, issued an Action Alert on September 6th urging Presbyterians to support the right to boycott in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad.

Win Without War who also signed the letter as one of 40 organizations, stated today:  

"This resolution is the first measure of its kind recognizing the historical importance of boycotts in advancing human rights and justice both at home and abroad. From the economic boycotts of apartheid South Africa to the Montgomery Bus boycotts against racial segregation, boycotts are a time-honored tool of political expression and social change that Congress should be defending – rather than seeking to criminalize this constitutionally-protected exercise of political beliefs it does not agree with.

"This resolution is crucial especially now in the aftermath of the restrictions that were placed on Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar’s travel to Israel, due to their political views and support of a social movement utilizing the right to boycott.

"In this era of rising authoritarianism around the world, there is a global divide between those who believe in freedom and equality for all, and those who justify repression on racial and religious supremacy. At a time when political expression is under attack both at home and abroad, it is imperative that Congress stand on the side of justice by affirming the right to boycott unjust policies that undermine equality and dignity for all no matter where these injustices occur."


 

Background

Members of IPMN overtured the 223rd General Assembly in Saint Louis last summer in 2018 to approve language on the right to boycott. The overture,  "On Opposition to Congressional and State Anti-BDS Legislation", passed 50 - 2 in the Middle East Committee and was approved through the Consent Agenda in Plenary.

IPMN continues to follow its General Assembly mandate to educate Presbyterians and advocate for the rights of Palestinians. We will continue to push for justice and be a part of the pro-justice efforts that brought this language to become policy in our denomination in 2018:

  • Defend and advocate for the constitutional protection under the First Amendment for all United States citizens, religious and civic organizations, companies and corporations that exercise their freedoms of speech, association, and other civil rights to support measures of economic witness designed to bring those freedoms and rights to Palestinians and other persons living without full citizenship and under occupation.
  • Oppose specific U.S. legislation to suppress measures of economic witness (boycott, divestment, sanctions, or BDS policies and strategies such as “The Israel Anti-Boycott Act,” Senate Bill (S) 720 and House Resolution (H.R.) 1697, which seek to impose civil and criminal penalties for nonviolent BDS resistance against human rights violations in Israel and Palestine.

 

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Stated Clerk condemns U.S. position on Israeli settlements in West Bank

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IPMN Condemns Unilateral Move on Israeli Settlements by the Trump Administration

IPMN large logo with websiteNovember 20, 2019 — On November 18, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States was reversing its position on the status of Israeli settlements and countermanding a 1978 State Department legal opinion that concluded Israeli settlements in the region were “inconsistent with international law.”

Let it first be said that the opinion of one particular U.S. administration cannot possibly overturn the stance of the international community on this highly contentious issue. Further, the 2016 United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 reaffirmed that “the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.” 

Additionally, according to the International Criminal Court (ICC), it is a war crime to settle civilians in occupied territory, as Israel has long been doing. Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the ICC states “the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory’ as a war crime when committed as part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes.”

We strongly agree with the statement of our denomination’s Washington Office of Public Witness that the actions of the Trump administration and their disregard for international law “are only likely to intensify the dispossession and oppression caused by the settlements and escalate an already tragic situation.”

This breach of international law and global accord is an affront to all who seek a just and peaceful resolution in Israel and Palestine. J-Street, a left-leaning pro-Israel advocacy group, points out that the Pompeo statement discards “decades of bipartisan US policy” and disregards “international law…trampling on the rights of Palestinians and helping the Israeli right-wing to destroy Israel’s future…”  Even the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel U.S. Lobby, is not taking a position on settlements

Cutting through the outrage, Palestinian human rights scholar Noura Erakat noted that "what we're seeing now is not a sharp reversal in U.S. foreign policy… but instead the culmination of it."  She explained that “for more than five decades, since 1967, all U.S. administrations have talked out of both sides of their mouth. On the one hand, they have condemned settlements as counterproductive to peace and as a contravention of international law, and, on the other hand, have provided Israel with the unequivocal diplomatic, military and financial aid in order to entrench their settlements.”

Her clarity on duplicitous U.S. policies is appreciated. For decades, our denomination has opposed violence of any kind in the region, as well as Israeli settlements inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories. And for decades, continuing General Assembly actions have expressed clear opposition to illegal Israeli settlements which create new facts on the ground by moving more and more Jewish settlers into the West Bank.

As far back as the 201st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1989, our denomination has been clear about what it takes to seek and achieve peace in Israel/Palestine. In a special report on Israel and Palestine, we urged “the United States government to work with [all] parties to disavow explicitly all... that threaten the livelihood, the existence, or the territorial integrity of any party, and cease actions based upon these statements.”

As for our investments and not profiting from injustice in Palestine, since 2014 our policy has been an “intention to undertake such investments in ways that do not contribute to the continuation of Israel’s occupation, annexation, or blockade of those areas, with specific attention to the illegal Israeli buildings, settlements, and barriers built on Palestinian land in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.” 

In its landmark report “Breaking Down the Walls,” the 219th General Assembly (2010) included this warning statement: “The situation on the ground is changing rapidly. The rise of the extremist settler movement within Israel belies the ‘Israel as a nation for all of its citizens’ we so long to see. The ongoing land expropriation and settlement expansion, in East Jerusalem in particular, continues to undermine, and indeed, destroy the possibility for a just and secure peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike.” Since then, settlement expansion has multiplied exponentially and now runs deep into the West Bank with over 700,000 Jewish settlers living on Palestinian lands.

There is a way out of the Israel/Palestine impasse. Palestinians are asking for full and equal rights and an end to the segregated system they have been forced to live in. Eliminating military law and dismantling the apartheid system of two sets of laws for two different peoples under the control of the same state will go a long way to bringing about equality and begin a process of healing and reconciliation. 

The Israel Palestine Mission Network of the PC(USA) encourages all Presbyterians and members of partner denominations to call upon the U.S. government to reverse this dangerous and unproductive course of action and return to a discourse and negotiations that seek peace rather than making unilateral pronouncements that will surely lead to continuing oppression, violence and war.


 

STATED CLERK OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

J. Herbert Nelson calls on President to work toward peace

Stated Clerk condemns U.S. position on Israeli settlements in West Bank

 

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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