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ADVOCACY

Advocacy Section

 

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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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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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

 

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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