GC42 Actions on Palestine/Israel

The following actions relating to Palestine/Israel were adopted by the 42nd meeting of General Council that just concluded.  They are shared without comment for your information.

ISRAEL-PALESTINE TWO-STATE SOLUTION
That the 42nd General Council (2015) direct the Executive of the General Council to review the policy on Palestine/Israel in consultation with partners in the region by:

  1. affirming the right of self-determination for Palestinians and Israelis so that any choice regarding statehood be made by the people living in Palestine/Israel; and
  2. re-affirming the right of Israelis and Palestinians to live peacefully within internationally recognized borders.

TOWARD A JUST PEACE IN ISRAEL/PALESTINE
That the 42nd General Council (2015) direct the General Secretary, General Council to:
Focus the current strategies and actions approved at the 41st General Council to address the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories by the state of Israel by also:

  1. initiating and developing a program of education and advocacy, in cooperation with our partners, related to divestment from and economic sanctions against all corporations and institutions complicit in or benefitting from the illegal occupation. This would include education about tourism which bolsters the oppression of Palestinians;
  2. developing and implementing an ethical divestment strategy from companies that derive substantial financial benefit or that contribute significantly to furthering the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and recommends to the United Church of Canada, its Pension Fund and Foundation and other related bodies including congregations to divest from companies that derive substantial financial benefit from the illegal Israeli occupation; and
  3. encouraging all courts, bodies and members of The United Church of Canada to apply such divestment strategies and sanctions, until such time as the occupation of the Palestinian territories ends.

RELATIONSHIP-BUILDING TOWARDS PEACE BETWEEN PALESTINIANS AND ISRAELIS
That the 42nd General Council (2015) direct the General Secretary of the General Council to work on developing a resource listing organizations both in Canada and in Israel/Palestine that foster the building of relationships of trust between:

  • The United Church of Canada and the Canadian Jewish community,
  • The United Church of Canada and Canadian Palestinian groups,
  • between Palestinian and Jewish groups in Canada, and
  • between Palestinians and Israelis in Israel/Palestine (Identify groups within Israel and Palestine doing this kind of trust-building work, to facilitate possible partnerships between these groups and United Church bodies such as congregations, special interest groups or presbyteries.)

It further proposes that these resources be communicated to congregations, groups of interested United Church people, presbyteries and Conferences with encouragement for them to undertake this work.

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The House That Canada Built

From January 17-February 13, 2015 UNJPPI (United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel, together with IJV (Independent Jewish Voices) organized a speaking tour across Canada for Jeff Halper, the founder and director of ICAHD (the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions).  Jeff spoke in 15 communities in Canada, from St John’s, NFL to Vancouver Island, BC.  The national speaking tour had several goals, including educating Canadians about the issues facing Palestinians and Israelis, in particular the Israeli policy of house demolition and updating everyone on the situation in Israel and Palestine, as well as raising money for the rebuilding of a Palestinian home that had been destroyed by the Israeli army. The tour brought together activists on a local and national level.

Since 1967, Israel has demolished more than 46,000 Palestinian homes and structures in the oPt (occupied Palestinian territory) of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem since 1967.  This does not include Palestinian homes and structures in Israel, within the 1967 borders.

With so many demolitions, no can can begin rebuilding all the homes and structures that were destroyed by Israel. So ICAHD, together with a Palestinian team and Palestinian staffperson decide on which families to approach for rebuilding a home.  Since the home chosen is rebuilt for political as well as humanitarian reasons, the family is made fully aware of the risks of having their home rebuilt–it may put them in conflict with the Israeli authorities and it may even be destroyed again.

Palestinian homes are demolished for a variety of reasons including: the Palestinian family does not have permission to build, however, a building permit is almost never granted; one or more of the children have been throwing stones at an Israeli jeep or at the Israeli soldiers, in which case the house demolition is a collective punishment; or Israel wants to confiscate the land for its own use.

While Jeff was on the speaking tour in Canada, enough money was raised to purchase materials to rebuild one Palestinian home.  The rebuilding was done by Israelis, Palestinians, and Internationals, all who also contributed to the expenses of the workcamp.

Attached is the story–in pictures and words from Jeff–of the rebuilding of the Palestinian home, with the money raised during Jeff’s tour, called  “The house that Canada built”.

For more information see:
www.icahd.org
www.unjppi.org
www.ijvcanada.org

Kathy Bergen
UNJPPI co-coordinator for the tour.

A Letter to the United Church of Canada

SUSIYA STILL STANDING

“Susiya is a Legend of Palestinian Resistance,” declares Nasser Nawaja’a, Susiya’s young spokesperson and rising Palestinian leader. “As goes Susiya, so goes the rest of the West Bank’s Area C.”

Today, August 4, 2015, the village of Khirbet Susiya is not only present, without demolitions, but is hosting a mini United Nations. The outcry from the world has been enormous.

The European Union, the US Acting Consul General, members of the Israeli Knesset (government), the Prime Minister of Palestine and many, many national and international organizations have shown support.  Israeli groups have taken a leadership role with community members organizing for Susiya’s survival and informing the world of Israeli government policies, where according to Rabbi for Human Rights spokesperson, Rabbi Arik Ascherman, “…the deck is stacked against Palestinians…” by Israeli government policy.

Susiya made it to question period at the US State Department July 17, 2015.  (See Daily Press Briefing – July 16, 2015 below)  The list of who in the press scene has been to Susiya is unbelievable: when a media team from Kazakhstan arrives in tiny Susiya along with Associated Press, Al Jazeera English, the New York Times, Reuters, Le Monde and even CNN, you know something is happening.

Symbolic Susiya…Why all the fuss over this one small 350 person village somewhere in the middle of nowhere, Palestine?

As goes Susiya, goes Palestine. Particularly Area C, controlled solely by the Israeli army, called the Israeli Defense Forces.  Area C consists mostly of shepherds and farmers, on their land, eking out subsistence livings.

The injustices that Palestinians have put up with for years, since 1948, until today have come to a head.  I learned this from Rabbis for Human Rights, Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Machsom Watch, Tayoush, Villages Group, all Israeli organizations working for justice and peace in Palestine and Israel¬¬¬.

The very right wing, unlawful settlers who now patrol the West Bank, armed, in illegal outposts and settlements are part of Israeli society.  Israel, is this the society you wanted to build? Is this the dream you had in mind? The horrors of extremist settlers have been shown to the world as well:  most recently a child of 18 months burned to death.

Susiya is symbolic.

This is the shepherd versus the military. (Israel is the 7th ranked military might in the world.)

This is the consumer versus the corporation.

This is what is happening and will happen to many villages all over Palestine unless people speak out.

This is the face and fate of the State of Palestine unless Israel changes its policies.

It is more: it is an opportunity for Israel: justice seeking, peace wanting, righteous Israel.

A 21st century, Israel. A global Israel. A mature Israel. No longer a tribal Israel.

Israel, can you be the one to propose an End to Occupation, an end, without the many strings attached that humiliate and demean your neighbour?

Israel, can you be the one to extend the olive branch? Can you become the Israel you have dreamed of being: the honourable Israel.

If Canada is working behind the scenes to promote this message, then Stephen Harper, you have the blessing of Canadians.  If you are working for less than this, you are to be pitied for being on the wrong side of history.

This is what Susiya has taught me: there are people whose hopes, dreams and day to day lives are impacted on every level  who still work for peace, for justice and for equality: for new beginnings and the end to what is only bringing sorrow to all involved.

This is why Susiya matters: symbolic of Area C of the West Bank, symbolic of thousands of villages facing demolition of homes and structures, symbolic of the Occupation whose time has run out.  It is not only saving Susiya or Palestine…it is saving Israel as well.

Appendix
US State Department July 16, 2015 transcript:

QUESTION: Do you have a reaction to reports that Israel may demolish part of a village called Susiya in the West Bank for expanding settlements?

MR KIRBY: I do. We’re closely following developments in the village of Susiya in the West Bank, and we strongly urge the Israeli authorities to refrain from carrying out any demolitions in the village.  Demolition of this Palestinian village or of parts of it, and evictions of Palestinians from their homes would be harmful and provocative.  Such actions have an impact beyond those individuals and families who are evicted.  We are concerned that the demolition of this village may worsen the atmosphere for a peaceful resolution and would set a damaging standard for displacement and land confiscation, particularly given settlement-related activity in the area.  We urge Israeli authorities to work with the residents of the village to finalize a plan for the village that addresses the residents’ humanitarian needs.

Your support for the activities of UNJPPI is appreciated.

http://www.unjppi.org

Our mailing address is:
United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel
PO Box 1342
Blenheim, Ontario  N0P 1A0
Canada

The Palestinian Community condemns the brutal killing of a Palestinian baby by the Israeli terrorists

The Canadian Palestinian Community released the following statement today.

The Palestinian-Canadian community expresses its condolences to the family of 18-month old Ali Saad Dawabshed, who was burned to death in an arson attack perpetrated by Israeli terrorists against his home in Occupied Palestine yesterday.

This latest attack against Palestinian children cannot be divorced from racist narratives of the Israel/Palestine conflict in Western society that dehumanizes the Palestinian people and distorts their quest for self-determination.

The absence of any condemnation from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, or any reference to the several other killings of Palestinian youth by Israeli Occupation Forces this summer, highlights the Harper Government’s complicity in the dehumanization of the Palestinian people.

This history of silence is especially troublesome in the wake of the murder of 551 Palestinian children by Israeli military operations in Gaza last year.

From beneath the shadow cast by this tragedy we avail ourselves of this opportunity to affirm that Palestinian lives matter. We stand in solidarity with other oppressed people, notably Canadian, North American First Nations and black communities, in asserting our collective rights to self-determination and freedom from all forms of persecution.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Dawabshed family today.

For more information, please contact:
info@palestinehouse.com

3195 Erindale Station Road • Mississauga • Ontario • L5C 1Y5
Tel. 905-270-3622 • Fax 905-270-3628

Read an Op-Ed in The Times of Israel

United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel Annual General Meeting

The UNJPPI (United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel) AGM (Annual General Meeting) is only one month away, beginning with supper on Friday, August 28 and ending with lunch on Sunday, August 30.  We were able to extend the registration deadline until August 10.  We hope you can join us in Halifax for this important meeting, when we will decide how UNJPPI will respond to the events in Palestine and Israel.
This year we will gather to:

  • seek ways to build our network, support each other and become more effective;
  • find ways reach beyond ourselves and invite others in;
  • focus on how we can contribute to a just peace in Israel/Palestine, especially in the light of recent government initiatives;
  • strategize about how we can work with other networks and like-minded organizations;
  • discuss the United Church General Council meeting and how their decisions will affect our work.

We have invited two resource persons to join us for their work and expertise in BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions).

  1. David Wildman, the Executive Secretary of Human Rights and Racial Justice for the Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church in New York.
  2. Hind Awwad lives in Toronto.   From her home in Ramallah she was the coordinator and spokesperson of the Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions movement of the Palestinian NGOs.

In addition, we have asked Ahmad Sabawi and Peter Larson.  They will make presentations at the Saturday evening public event:  “Remembering Gaza: One Year Later”.

  1. Ahmad Sabawi, a journalist from Gaza, currently lives in Regina.  He will show us excerpts from a film he made during his trip to Gaza last fall.
  2. Peter Larson, the director of NECIP lives in Ottawa.   He will show a PowerPoint presentation which gives some background on Gaza.

We have been invited to participate in a pre-AGM workshop from 3:00 – 4:30 PM Friday August 28th.  This is a “test run” of a new, experiential learning exercise to raise awareness and understanding of the occupation of / justice for Palestine – inspired by the “Blanket Exercise” designed by KAIROS Canada which brings Canadian Aboriginal history alive. Come directly to the conference meeting room (Rosaria Student Centre of the Mount Saint Vincent University)  

As in the past our participants pay $500.  This allows us to offer a travel pool to support those coming from a distance.    Ask your congregation, presbytery, and conference for help to pay this $500.  You pay for your flight up front and we are hoping we can refund the full cost of your flight.  That depends on how our participants are distributed across the country.

Please register as a participant to attend the AGM by going to the UNJPPI website: www.unjppi.org
Kathy Bergen bergenkathy@gmail.com can give you more information if you need it.

Click here for a copy of the Agenda

 

Thank you,
The AGM Organizing Team