Saturday, July 18, 2015

Action Alert!

Dear Friend,
I'm requesting you to take action against the planned demolition of yet another Palestinian village.
Many groups are urging this action (CMEP - Churches for Middle East Peace; JVP - Jewish Voices for Peace; IPMN -Israel/Palestine Mission Network; and End the Occupation - (Anna Baltzer and others).
The Presbyterian appeal (which I am forwarding) is based on a report by David Etherington, who works there in the WCC Ecumenical Accompaniment Program and Kate Tabor, who works as a mission co-worker in Bethlehem. I have met Kate Tabor @ the IPMN conference last October and trust her.
Ethnic cleansing is still taking place. Our State Department has warned the Israelis against demolishing Susiya, but the warnings go unheeded because there are never any consequences when our policies are ignored.
In your message, urge the State Department to start putting teeth into our expectations (or use the form provided for you in the link).
Rather than find ways of living WITH their Palestinian neighbors, the present Likud-led government is insisting on putting up parallel Jews-only settlements. Friends, this goes contrary to our deepest held values, as Christians and Americans.
I'm re-reading Elias Chacour's BLOOD BROTHERS, in preparation for his visit to West Michigan on Thursday, September 17. There will be an appearance aimed at HOPE College and Western Theological Seminary students (but open to the community too); and an evening appearance at 7:00 p.m. at St. Francis de Sales Catholic church in Holland, MI. Archbishop Chacour is a Melkite Catholic whose forebears reconciled with Rome many centuries ago. He is 78 years old now and in retirement. Our partner Michael Spath and Pilgrims of Ibellin director Joan Deming will be bringing Abuna (Father) Chacour to Michigan and Indiana and other places in the US this September.

I'm attaching my review of the excellent documentary by Jews for Jews and all of us: "1913: Seeds of Conflict", which you can now see in its entirety at this link:
Back to Archbishop Chacour's book, BLOOD BROTHERS. It is a heart-wrenching, arresting personal account of how he and his family were stripped of their home and land. It is an inspiring account of how he wrestled with the demons of counter-violence and began to insist that his love for Israeli Jews was as strong as his love for his own Palestinian Christian and Muslim countrymen. He refuses to be an enemy, no matter how he is treated. Friends, this is kind of empathy and grace is uncommon and yet sets the standard for us in our efforts for peace, justice and love in our region. The Mar Elias Educational Institutions are the result of his vision: the embodiment of a reconciling movement in the heart of the Israel/Palestine quagmire.
Thank you for tracking with us @ KUSA - West Michigan. And thank you to our emerging Board of Directors who are taking ownership of this movement! Faithfully yours, (Rev.) John Kleinheksel Sr (JRK)

Action Alert: Stand in Solidarity with Susiya

“Living with all things ‘Under Military Occupation’ burdens ones heart, one’s soul, one’s life. My heart breaks, my heart cries for the struggle, the struggle for all here in this land, Palestinians and Israelis alike, Muslims, Jews and Christians all living in struggle in differing levels of intensity. I believe that this conflict, this occupation and subjection of another’s land and life is eroding the soul of all.” -- Rev. David Etherington, serving in the Palestinian village of Susiya with the Ecumenical Accompaniment program of the World Council of Churches.

The burden of the decades-long Israeli occupation of Palestinian land is felt from Gaza where on the one year anniversary of a devastating war the tiny enclave still lies in ruins, to the Cremisan Valley near Bethlehem where a court victory to stop building the separation wall on private Palestinian land has now been undone by a more recent court decision. As pressure steps up on a number of fronts, the Village of Susiya is a salient example of where advocacy is urgently needed.

To answer the need, the Rebuilding Alliance and partners are sending a message to government leaders telling them, “I care about peace, I care about Susiya.” Please join them today by contacting your elected officials.

Villagers in Susiya have already suffered a history of displacement. A 2015 UN report recounts, “In 1986, the Israeli authorities declared the main residential area of Susiya an archaeological site and evicted all of its residents. Most of those who relocated to what was later designated as Area C were displaced again in the context of two waves of demolitions, in 2001 and in 2011, on grounds of lack of building permits.”

The same UN report notes that the illegal Israeli settlement of Susya, located next to the Palestinian village, “has a population of nearly 1,000, some of whom live in an unauthorized outpost erected in 2002 in the old community centre that was declared an archeological site.”

While the situation in Susiya is not unique, it is particularly urgent because in May the Israeli court refused to issue an order prohibiting demolitions during an appeal which is scheduled to be heard on August 3rd. As Rabbis for Human Rights explains, “The judge’s decision is de facto permission for the State to realize the demolition orders in the village, that has stood in its present location for 30 years.”

Additional causes for concern, as noted by Etherington and others, are recently arrived bulldozers near the village and a visit by the Israeli authorities who photographed and documented structures in the village.

While the occupation grinds on, advocates for Susiya are hoping that this village can stand as an example of the success of peaceful action. Etherington quotes a villager, “…today, when we cry out, the world hears us, many around the world hear our struggle and…stand in solidarity with us and our struggle.”

Stand in solidarity with Susiya – and stand up for peace for Israelis and Palestinians -- by contacting your members of Congress today to say, “I care about peace, I care about Susiya.” Ask them to raise this issue with the US State Department and with the Israeli Embassy.

John for KairosUSA-West Michigan Community ()
From indifference to any truth; from cowardice that shrinks from new truth;
from laziness content with half truth; and from the arrogance that thinks it knows the whole truth,
O God of Truth, deliver us!