ELCA Churchwide Assembly passes Assembly actions related to Israel and Palestine


ELCA assembly overwhelming passes strong statement supporting multiple actions for their church constituency.

By Peace Not Walls | Evangelical Lutheran Church in America |  Aug 7, 2019

The Assembly Action … urges the ELCA to advocate to ‘ensure that U.S. taxpayer funds not support military detention, interrogation, abuse or ill-treatment of Palestinian children’.

On August 6, 2019, at the ELCA’s 2019 Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee, the assembly approved by 96% (YES-829; NO-33) four Assembly Actions related to Israel and Palestine (the memorials were presented en bloc with other memorials). The Assembly Actions deal with the human rights social investment screen, the detention of Palestinian children by Israel, funding for Augusta Victoria Hospital, and continuing to listen to various perspectives on the conflict. The Assembly Actions include urgent requests for advocacy related to the Lutheran World Federation’s Augusta Victoria Hospital and the military detention of Palestinian children by Israel. The Peace Not Walls team will continue to provide resources for education and advocacy related to both.

The Assembly Action titled “Category B1: Just Peace” “commend[s] and encourage[s] Portico Benefit Services to continue its implementation of the human rights social criteria investment screen as it relates to investments in Israel and Palestine.” This relates to the Churchwide Assembly Action in 2016 which directed “the ELCA’s Corporate Social Responsibility review team to develop a human rights social criteria investment screen based on the social teachings of this church and, in the case of Israel and Palestine, specifically based on the concerns raised in the ELCA Middle East Strategy; …” [CA16.06.31].

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I can’t support an ideology grounded in Jewish privilege and persecution of Palestinians

Palestinians climb over the wall in Al-Ram, north of Jerusalem. Israel says the barrier keeps out Palestinian attackers, while Palestinians say it is a land grab into territory they want for a future state. (Majdi Mohammed / AP, File)
Palestinians climb over the wall in Al-Ram, north of Jerusalem. (photo: Majdi Mohammed / AP, File)
Building a strong Jewish state will not come from repressive practices.

By Alice Rothchild | The Seattle Times | Aug 9, 2019

I began to understand that Zionism inherently involves harm to Palestinians who were living in historic Palestine when Jewish immigration began in the early 1900s.

A central debate within the U.S. Jewish community involves Zionism and its relationship to Judaism. In the recent anthology “Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism: Stories of Personal Transformation,” 40 rabbis, scholars and activists reflect on their particular intellectual and emotional journeys that began with an unquestioning love of Israel. Like the other contributors, I became aware that the ideology of Jewish nationalism and the policies of the Israeli government have corrupted my concept of Judaism and its central religious and cultural values.

I grew up in a family, post Nazi Holocaust, that viewed the creation of a modern Jewish state as a miracle to be celebrated. We idealized the kibbutzim, saved our quarters to plant trees in the barren land and loved the romantic ideal of the Israeli pioneers making the desert bloom.

At the same time, like many Jews, I was proud of my progressive politics. I supported civil rights, women’s rights, labor unions; this was my lived expression of a religion that extolled healing the world and working for justice. As a second-generation immigrant, it was also how I saw my role in America, a land where my grandparents, fleeing the pogroms of Eastern Europe, found a home, even if it was only the hard scrabble ghettos of Brooklyn in the early 1900s.

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Why are Democrats afraid to say Israel is occupying the West Bank?

An Israeli soldier points his weapon during clashes with Palestinians in the village of Kafr Qaddum near the Jewish settlement of Kedumim in the West Bank on Aug. 2. (photo: Jaafar Ashtiyeh/ AFP /Getty Images)
Timid language doesn’t help the peace process.

By Nathan Hersh | Washington Post | Aug 5, 2019

This is not the first time Democrats have shied away from using the term ‘occupation.’

Last month, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) amended a resolution initially drafted by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) that supported a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The changes she made to the bill, H.R. 326, removed references to Israel’s occupation and West Bank settlement growth.

This is not the first time Democrats have shied away from using the term “occupation.” In 2016, the party rejected an amendment to its platform that would have condemned the occupation. More recently, the Democratic Majority for Israel, founded this year by major party veterans to reaffirm the bipartisan nature of support for Israel in Congress, fails to mention the occupation even once in its nearly 500-word mission statement. In response to a question about the occupation from the left-wing Jewish activist group IfNotNow, presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke didn’t say the word “occupation” at all.

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Report: Israeli pesticides contaminating Gaza crops


Farmers near the border in Gaza. (photo: Shourideh C. Molavi and Ain Media Gaza)
A new report by the group ‘Forensic Architecture’ has found that widespread pesticide contamination from Israel into Gaza has occurred over decades, severely impacting the food grown in Gaza.

By Forensic Architecture | International Middle East Media Center | Jul 29, 2019

This ongoing practice has not only destroyed entire swaths of formerly arable land along the border fence, but also crops and farmlands hundreds of metres deep into Palestinian territory, resulting in the loss of livelihoods for Gazan farmers.

Staging the terrain
Over three decades, in tandem with the Madrid and Oslo negotiation processes, the occupied Gaza Strip has been slowly isolated from the rest of Palestine and the outside world, and subjected to repeated Israeli military incursions. These incursions intensified from September 2003 to the fall of 2014, during which Israel launched at least 24 separate military operations targeting Gaza, giving shape to its surrounding borders today.

The borders around Gaza—one of the most densely-populated areas on Earth—continue to be hardened and heightened into a sophisticated system of under- and overground fences, forts, and surveillance technologies. Part of this system has been the production of an enforced and expanding military no-go area—or ‘buffer zone’—on the Palestinian side of the border.

Since 2014, the clearing and bulldozing of agricultural and residential lands by the Israel military along the eastern border of Gaza has been complemented by the unannounced aerial spraying of crop-killing herbicides.

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The Political Marginalization of Palestinian Women in the West Bank

While Palestinian women have always faced political marginalization, developments since the Oslo Accords have caused them to endure perhaps even more formidable challenges when it comes to political participation. (photo:  APA Images)

By Yara Hawari |  Al Shabaka  |  Jul 28, 2019

…women have always been present and active at crucial political and national moments, though they have also had to navigate tensions among feminism, nationalism, and anti-colonial struggle.

While Palestinian women have always faced political marginalization, developments since the Oslo Accords have caused them to endure perhaps even more formidable challenges when it comes to political participation. Al-Shabaka Palestine Policy Fellow Yara Hawari outlines these challenges and recommends ways for Palestinian women and society to disrupt this process and revitalize the Palestinian liberation struggle through feminism.

Though Palestinian women have always played a fundamental role in the struggle for liberation from the Israeli settler colonial regime, they have faced consistent political marginalization. This experience has become more multifaceted and entrenched since the 1990s, when the Oslo Accords unleashed a myriad of changes in the structure of Palestinian society and governance.

These changes have included a newfound dependence on international donor aid among Palestinian civil society, including women’s organizations, and the bolstering of a corrupt and relentlessly patriarchal Palestinian Authority (PA) that complements rather than confronts the Israeli occupation and its oppression of the Palestinian population, both male and female. Such developments have caused today’s Palestinian women to endure perhaps even more formidable challenges when it comes to activism and political participation.

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A response to Eric Alterman’s question: ‘Does anyone take BDS seriously?’

Eric Alterman speaking at CUNY Queensborogh Community College in 2008. (photo: YouTube)
Those living under occupation have the right to resist their oppression in the form of recognized dissent that BDS represents.

By Alice Rothchild |  Mondoweiss  | Aug 1, 2019

The Israeli government is involved in a massive project of self-ghettoization and this is very dangerous.

Eric Alterman’s July 29 New York Times opinion piece asks: “Does Anyone Take the B.D.S. Movement Seriously?” Alterman argues that the BDS campaign (boycott, divestment and sanctions) is all symbolism without any real substance or economic impact and that support for BDS has become an empty progressive catch phrase. I feel compelled to answer his question because Alterman and I are looking at the same information and coming to opposite conclusions.

I will start with his flippant remark: “with each iteration of the B.D.S. ‘debate,’ the underlying issues seem to recede into obscurity.” He focuses on how BDS is used as a political tool in our increasingly dysfunctional Congress, rather than on the realities in Israel/Palestine.

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‘When the constitution becomes racist, it’s difficult to define what racism is’

Lawyer Hassan Jabareen attends a meeting at the Knesset on December 19, 2012. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Lawyer Hassan Jabareen attends a meeting at the Knesset on December 19, 2012.          (photo: Miriam Alster / Flash90)
One year ago, Israel passed a constitutional amendment declaring that Israel belongs only to its Jewish citizens. The head of Israel’s premier Palestinian rights group discusses what has changed in Israeli courts, but also overseas.

By Henriette Chacar | +972 Magazine  | Jul 26, 2019

‘Soon, the debate in the world won’t be whether Jewish and democratic goes together or not; the debate soon will be whether Israel is apartheid.’
— Hassan Jabareen, founder and director of Adalah

In the year since the Israeli parliament passed the Jewish Nation-State Law, the equivalent of a constitutional amendment that declares Israel to be the exclusive nation-state of the Jewish people and demotes the status of Arabic, not a whole lot has changed.

That can mostly be explained by how new the law still is, and the political instability that has paralyzed policy making in Israel over the past year. But the more obvious explanation is that the law only codified an existing reality of supremacy, discrimination, exclusivity, and two-tiered citizenship that has prevailed here since the day Israel was born.

What the law has changed, is the essence of how people understand that reality — from Palestinian citizens of Israel to diplomats, and, of course, judges.

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My name is Rachel, and Israel thinks I’m a security threat

Rachel Marandett
Rachel Marandett
The line between policing and racial profiling called into question.

By Rachel Marandett | Mondoweiss  | Jul 25, 2019

I want to tell my story because if this is what the Israeli government is doing to a 21-year-old American Jew doing research, what do you think they are doing to someone whose skin isn’t as white as mine?

My name is Rachel. I am a Jew. I don’t practice, but my grandmothers are Jewish and I identify as a Jew, so that means I am a Jew.

My name is Rachel. I study Religious and Middle Eastern Studies. My research focuses on the Holocaust and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I have studied in Morocco and the Czech Republic. I know a little bit of Arabic and I hope I can learn more soon.

My name is Rachel. I support human rights. I work at a non-profit that strives to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity.

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Encountering peace: Have we no shame?

Israeli bulldozers demolish the Shepherd Hotel in the Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheik Jarrah to make way for new Israeli settlements, Jan 9, 2011. (photo: Bernat Armangue, AP)
Israeli annexationist interests are a big barrier in quest for peace.

By Gershon Baskin | Jerusalem Post | Jul 24, 2019

What we did, what the State of Israel did, what we do in the name of the Jewish state is becoming pure evil.

As I watched the video of the Israeli soldiers and police blowing up one of the 13 residential buildings demolished this week in the Wadi al-Hummus neighborhood of Sur Bahir in east Jerusalem, I wanted to bury myself in shame. When the building imploded and the soldiers laughed as we heard the screams and cries from the Palestinians who became homeless, my shame turned to pure outrage and the urge to be violent. But I will not step down to that level. I will not be violent. But I will not hold back, I will not forget and I will not forgive. What we did, what the State of Israel did, what we do in the name of the Jewish state is becoming pure evil.

My first thoughts about what I see in the daily reality of east Jerusalem, and the West Bank and Gaza — things such as the Sur Bahir home demolitions; the removal of Palestinians from their homes in Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, and the moving in of Jewish settlers in their place; settlement expansion and building at a faster pace than I have seen in many years; unauthorized settlements being built, budgeted and hooked up to Israeli infrastructure; massive police presence all over the West Bank ticketing hundreds of Palestinian cars (not cars of settlers); and the ongoing strangling the Palestinian economy in full coordination with the US government — all of these actions and more are leading to a definite explosion. My thought: Maybe that is exactly what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants? This is the perfect backdrop for Election Day. Could even Netanyahu be so cynical? I thought to myself — this can’t be.

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Egypt takes another stab at reconciling Hamas, Fatah

man waving flag
(photo: Ahmed Abu Hameeda)
Egypt has made efforts to end the Palestinian rift and has recently stepped up efforts to bring Hamas and Fatah closer.

By Rasha Abou Jalal |  Al-Monitor  | Jul 25, 2019

‘The Palestinian reconciliation will remain idle if it’s not based on a partnership that ends the monopolization of the rule by one party or the other.’
— Abdullatif al-Kanou, Hamas spokesperson

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Cairo is resuming its efforts to reconcile the Fatah and Hamas Palestinian factions, taking a somewhat more hands-on approach to solving the main problem.

The Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank wants Hamas to give up administrative control of the Gaza Strip, including ministries, security, courts, border crossings and tax collections. But Hamas refuses to oblige and is asking for partnership in managing Palestinian affairs on the civil, security and political levels.

An Egyptian security delegation headed by Ministry of Intelligence Undersecretary Ayman Badih visited Ramallah on July 11 and met with Palestinian General Intelligence Services chief Majed Faraj, who is also a member of the Fatah-affiliated Reconciliation Follow-up Committee. The delegation then headed to the Gaza Strip the next day to meet with Hamas leadership, and returned to Ramallah on July 13 to meet with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and discuss the outcome of the talks.

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