Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bishop Tutu's Letter supporting UMs

Here is the letter from Archbishop Tutu (with thanks to the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the PCUSA for bringing it to our attention). Endorsement by South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu 26 April 2012 Dear Friends of the United Methodist Church, The situation in Israel and Palestine pains me greatly since it is the place where God formed a very particular relationship with a particular group of people; Hebrews who were oppressed as slaves in another land. As time moved on, this people disobeyed God and time and time again the prophets had to call them back to their deepest values. The Jewish Holocaust, engineered and implemented primarily by Europeans, gave some ideologues within the Jewish and Christian community an excuse to implement plans that were in the making for at least 50 years, under the rubric of exceptional Jewish security. In this way began the immense oppression of the Palestinian people, who were not at all involved in the Holocaust. Not only is this group of people being oppressed more than the apartheid ideologues could ever dream about in South Africa, their very identity and history are being denied and obfuscated. What is worse, is that Europe and the USA are refusing to take responsibility for their actions with regard to both the Holocaust and the over-empowering of the Israelis, their disregard for the international conventions and regulatory framework of the nuclear industry and their continued oppression of the Palestinian people. But God, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, neither slumbers nor sleeps. Prophetic voices have been calling this empowered people who were once oppressed and killed, to their deepest values of justice and compassion, but they have refused to listen even to the most reasonable voices. The human community cannot be silent in the face of the gross injustice being meted out to the people of Palestine. If international courts and governments refuse to deal with this matter, we in the churches and in the rest of civil society really have no choice but to act in small ways and big ways. God is busy doing a new thing. And God is using all of us to be partners with him. Both the Israelis and the Palestinians have to be liberated, but at this stage the greater onus is on the Israelis since they are the ones who are in power, economically, politically and militarily. We have to think about ways that will allow them to reflect deeply on what it is that they are doing and bring them back from the brink, not out of spite or revenge, but because we love them deeply. I therefore wholeheartedly support your action to disinvest from companies who benefit from the Occupation of Palestine. This is a moral position that I have no choice but to support, especially since I know of the effect that Boycotts, Disinvestment and Sanctions had on the apartheid regime in South Africa. May God bless your conference as you deliberate on this matter, and I pray that your decision will reflect the best values of the human family as we stand in solidarity with the oppressed. God bless you. Archbishop-Emeritus Desmond Tutu Cape Town, South Africa. At this Sunday's class, I've asked the Rev. Ed Mulder, retired General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America, to share with the class how the RCA travelled down the road of divestment and sanctions in the 1980's to bring the South African government to their senses and roll back the Apartheid system that had been disenfranchising the indigenous people of the land. It seems clear that the RCA will not be in the lead in this divestment fight, but you will be on the edge of your seat as you listen to the opposition the RCA faced in getting this through the General Synod of the RCA. Sincerely yours, JRK

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Christians Get Their Story Out to the World

Dear Friend of Palestinians and Israelis, Passions are being stirred. I knew about it but failed to urge my class to see CBS run a segment on 60 Minutes last Sunday night on CHRISTIANS IN THE HOLY LAND. (We were running late and I didn't check my "to do" list). Many of you have seen it. Israel's attempts (through her Ambassador Oren) to squelch the story of how Palestinian Christians are faring in Isr/Pal failed. Here is the link for you to listen to and see the story. (This is the whole 42 minute program. The relevant segment is the second of the three stories). Christians in Isr/Pal have spoken out in the KAIROS PALESTINE document we are studying. Sixty copies were gobbled up by persons coming to the class April 15 and 22. This Sunday we will discuss "WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?" (10:15, the Chapel). As you may know, the Presbyterians and the United Methodists will be considering resolutions urging their Board of Pensions to divest from companies that are profiting from the Occupation. Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) has published a letter sent to the United Methodists by a group of Rabbis, Cantors and Rabbinic students in support of these actions. Here are the last two paragraphs of the letter from the Rabbis: To advocate for an end to an unjust policy is not anti-Semitic. To criticize Israel is not anti-Semitic. To invest your own resources in corporations which pursue your vision of a just and peaceful world, and to withdraw your resources from those which contradict this vision, is not anti-Semitic. There is a terrible history of actual anti-Semitism perpetrated by Christians at different times throughout the millennia and conscientious Christians today do bear a burden of conscience on that account. We can understand that, with your commitment to paths of peace and justice, it must be terribly painful and inhibiting to be accused of anti-Semitism. In fact, many of us in the Jewish community recognize that the continuing occupation of Palestine itself presents a great danger to the safety of the Jewish people, not to mention oppressing our spirits and diminishing our honor in the world community. We appreciate the solidarity of people of conscience in pursuing conscientious nonviolent strategies, such as phased selective divestment, to end the occupation. [signed by 26 rabbis, a cantor and rabbinic students. Read the whole letter at] Today, I (JRK again) received a copy of a letter to the United Methodists from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the hopeful Christian who helped turn the tide against the Apartheid government in South Africa. He writes the letter to SUPPORT the Rabbis urging divestment. In clear and compelling words, he urges United Methodists (and other churches) to support the letter written by the Rabbis.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

There Can Be No Doubt

Thank you for your prayers for the Isr/Pal Adult class at Christ Memorial, finishing up this coming Sunday (10:15 in The Chapel). Last week, friend Lowey Dickason gave a report on her recent Christian Peacemaker Team stint in Isr/Pal with personal anecdotes. Habeeb Awad spoke about being a Palestinian in the US and the inane questions posed to him as a college student at one of our Reformed Church schools. We are trying to listen to the claims of both sides. This Sunday we will discuss "Where Do We Go From Here?", a variety of actions that will include reflections from Rev. Ed Mulder, head of the RCA when the Gen. Synod went on record supporting divestment from companies doing business in S. Africa at the height of the Apartheid administration of our Reformed church cousin Mr. de Klerk. We are listening to the call for help from Palestinian Christians, contained in KAIROS PALESTINE, inspiring a Kairos USA movement that is taking off later this year. One of the sticking points to further negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians is the insistence by the Netanyahu government on expanding its colonization of Palestinian land in the "West Bank", which demonstrates beyond any doubt that Israel has NO INTENTION of stopping the establishment and expansion of settlements on land that belongs (by international consensus) to the Palestinians. Friends, this is a serious matter and calls for serious nonviolent responses. Martin Luther King Jr called for the dismantling of the system of "segregation" in the US and asked his friends to boycott buses and businesses that engaged in discriminatory practices. There were some in his movement that were "violent" but it did not dissuade him from taking nonviolent action himself and responsible followers. Even though he was assassinated, the Civil Rights Act came into being and blacks became more enfranchised than ever before. This was a good thing. Let's allow for the fact that Prime Minister Netanyahu has to keep his settler wing coalition from falling. But it is the settler mentality that is driving Israeli politics now and outside pressure must be applied for any substantial changes to come about. We cannot expect the US government to initiate this action. Nor the Congress, completely in the thrall of the Israeli lobby. If it is to happen, it must come from Christians and Muslims who let their pocket books do the talking. Truly yours, JRK Israel legalizes West Bank settler outposts Amy Teibel Associated Press April 24, 2012 - 12:00am JERUSALEM — Israel legalized three unsanctioned West Bank settler outposts and was trying to save another on Tuesday, infuriating the Palestinians as the chief American Mideast envoy was in the region laboring to revive peace efforts. The decision fueled suspicions that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hardline coalition would try to legalize as many rogue settlement sites as possible to cement Israel's hold on occupied land the Palestinians claim for a state. Netanyahu faces stiff pressure from pro-settler hardliners within his own coalition to fend off legal challenges to the unauthorized construction. Some hardliners have even warned that the coalition, which until now has been remarkably stable, could unravel over the issue. Palestinians claim all of the West Bank and east Jerusalem as the core of their hoped-for state, and see all Israeli settlement as illegal encroachment on those lands. They have refused to restart peace talks until construction halts. "We call upon the Israeli government to immediately stop all unilateral acts," said senior Palestinian official Nabil Abu Rdeneh. "Netanyahu is pushing things into deadlock once again." A string of Israeli governments have pledged not to build any new settlements. But critics say the settler movement, with quiet support from the government, has used the outposts to grab more West Bank land. Dozens of clusters of houses or mobile homes dot the West Bank, in addition to more than 120 authorized settlements. Netanyahu says the issue of settlements should be resolved through peace talks, which broke down more than three years ago over the settlement issue. Israel began settling the West Bank and east Jerusalem immediately after capturing them in the 1967 Mideast war, and 500,000 Jews now live there. The international community widely condemns the construction. The Israeli announcement came as U.S. envoy David Hale was in the region, on a new mission to restart negotiations.