Nov 29 – International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

Observance at UN Headquarters in New York on 23 November 2015
As is customary each year, the United Nations observes the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People – 29 November. This year, the observance of the Day at UN Headquarters took place on Monday, 23 November.

Although the debate of the “Question of Palestine”  was held this past Monday, its typical date of observance is November 29—the anniversary of the day in 1947 when the UN voted to divide Palestine into Arab and Jewish states. It’s also the same day in 2012 when Palestine was recognized as a non-member observer state.

In light of the debate on Nov 23 at which 193 nations passed 20 resolutions in support of a Palestinian state and urged a peaceful settlement to the conflict, and in observance of the official International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on November 29, UNJPPI issues the following statement.

The following statement has been prepared by Rev. Steve Berube, co-chair of UNJPPI.

Nov. 29 is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. For most Canadians it will go unnoticed. We are focused on other questions emanating out of the Middle East. How will we deal with 25,000 Syrian refugees? Should we continue the CF-18 bombing missions in Syria and Iraq in spite of reports today about more civilian casualties caused by Canadian bombs? What will happen as a result of Turkey shooting down a Russian bomber? For most Canadians, the problems in Palestine and Israel seems to pale in comparison.

Yet, how much of the conflict in the Middle East conflict is somewhat related to the unresolved issues concerning Palestine? How many realize that there are over 5,000,000 Palestinian refugees? How many Canadians actually recognize the media bias in reports about the current violence between Palestinians and Israelis?

Having lived in Bethlehem as a Human Rights observer I witnessed daily violations of international Humanitarian and Human Rights law by Israeli forces occupying Palestine. I spoke with many young people who had little or no hope for the future.

There lack of home is rooted in a 48 year old occupation where they see little or no real concern for justice arising from the West. Their lack of hope was reinforced by the war waged by Israel last year in Gaza where over 500 children died as a result of Israeli attacks. Over 100,000 people there will face a second winter with inadequate shelter. As of late September, construction had begun on only a handful of the thousands of homes destroyed. These young people ask why has there been no huge international outcry to investigate the destruction of over 20 hospitals and medical centers in Gaza?

Media reports in Canada blame the current violence over access to holy sites in Jerusalem. This is the visible issue where clashes have occurred but it is not the reason. I suspect more of it is related to the immolation of 18 month old Ali Saad Dawabsheh in late July and the subsequent deaths of his parents from that same attack. Israeli officials seem to know who the Israeli settlers are who were responsible for this heinous act but have said they do not want to jeopardize their sources – whatever that means.

In the West Bank, there are two justice systems. One applies to Palestinians where there is over a 99% conviction rate according to Israeli statistics and where 12 year olds are frequently arrested. The second applies to the illegal settlers and the Israeli military where the wheels of justice don’t even bother to turn.

On this day, let us pray for peace with justice for both Palestinians and Israelis. Let us learn more about the conflict and the injustice of the current situation. Let us open our eyes to better understand how the lack of justice has decimated the hope of Palestinians and is part of the root cause of the radicalization of many beyond the Jordan River.

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WCC gravely concerned over violent confrontation in Israel and Palestine

Horrified by recent developments in Israel and Palestine, the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) has expressed again “the WCC’s rejection of violence and injustice” and has reiterated “its frequent call for respect for human rights for all people of the region, regardless of their national, ethnic or religious identity”. The action was taken at the 13-18 November meeting of the Executive Committee in Geneva, Switzerland.

The committee expressed grave concern over violent attacks against both Israelis and Palestinians, and over “measures entailing long-term time division of access to Al-Aqsa mosque and affecting access to other holy sites.” Such measures, the statement underlined, diminish hope in the realization of peace.

The WCC reaffirmed “the vision of Jerusalem as an open city, a city of two peoples and holy to three religions.”

Statement made by the WCC Executive Committee on 18 November 2015

Sourced from World Council of Churches

Message to GCE Reps

The Conference representatives to the United Church General Council Executive which will be meeting this weekend received the following letter.  It was also sent to the Conference Secretaries for information.  The Conference Executive Secretaries are corresponding members.  The GCE meets this weekend so it is a short time period but if you have the opportunity, please consider sending your Conference reps a short email to encourage them to give prayerful consideration to the request in the letter.

Communication Coordinator                                                           November 18, 2015

November 5, 2015
                                                                                                             Print PDF copy
Dear Members of General Council Executive.

We, as the Co-ordinating Team of UNJPPI are writing to inform you of the current situation in Palestine and Israel from some of our sources and to encourage the Executive to move ahead immediately.

Here are suggestions from UNJPPI for your action at this meeting of GCE.

  1. Authorize GCO staff to move ahead with the resolutions passed by GC 42 immediately – and as a high priority.  The church through the General Council agreed  to ”initiate and develop a program of education and advocacy related to divestment from and economic sanctions against all corporations and institutions complicit in or benefitting from the illegal occupation”.  We need to follow through on these actions as ways to promote non-violent change and  to hold Israel to account.
  2. Speak to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau along with other newly elected UCC people.  We can be explicit about what is happening in Palestine and ask the new government to call on the governments of Israel and Palestine to support International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law as well as the 4th Geneva Convention.  Some of our returned ecumenical accompaniers could help draft these messages.
  3. Speak to the press.  Hold a press conference.  Have the Moderator speak as one new leader to another new leader.  Send out press releases to all major news outlets.
  4. We can write to the CBC, be-moaning the inadequate and mis-leading coverage of what is happening to Palestinians.

UNJPPI is ready and eager to support this work.  Enough people have been killed.
The following information is current as of late October, giving a taste of the suffering of our Palestinian brothers and sisters.

  1. October 26, 2015 from Jan McIntyre (a returned ecumenical accompanier from rural Manitoba).  She is volunteering in Hebron with an NGO –“Over the last 24 hrs there have been 4 young Palestinians killed by the Israeli forces here in Hebron.”
  2. October 23, 2015 letter from Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb: telling us that within the last 5 weeks, over forty young people from Palestine were killed and over 1100 injured.  See attachment.
  3. October 22, 2015.  Peter Larson from Ottawa shares this story:

“On my very first tour to Israel/Palestine in 2009 I met Hashem Azzeh.  He is the tall courtly man in the moustache in this picture, showing our group around Hebron. He lived in a house that had been completely surrounded by immigrant Jewish settlers, many of them American, speaking with Brooklyn accents. They were protected by Israeli soldiers.  He showed us how the settlers were trying to force him to leave, including attacking his children, cutting his olive trees and shooting holes in his water tanks.

He was a medical doctor, patient but determined. There was not a hint of racism about him. But he was not going to allow settlers to expel him from his family home despite incredible pressures.”

Yesterday Peter received an email saying that the IDF has finally killed him. The interview with him in this short video gives a hint as to what the Palestinians are up against and how evil racism can be. http://muftah.org/idf-kills-hebron-peace-activist-hashem-azzeh/#.Vif2PTZdGM8

“Many of the people who show us around in Israel/Palestine are risking their lives to talk to us. I never cease to be impressed with their courage.

Had he been an Israeli medical doctor killed by Palestinians, no doubt it would be on the front pages of every paper in Canada. As it turns out, it did not even merit a mention in the Ottawa Citizen. Palestinian lives (like black lives) don’t seem to matter very much.”

  1. October 2015. From Said Al-Yacoubi – a Gazan at Oxford for medical training this summer.  He tells his story of speaking at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park.

“Before 1948, there was no Israel. Israel was built on the rubble of my grandparents’ house. Israelis came to the land by ships and planes and ethnically cleansed my people from their villages and cities so they could build a state they called Israel. “How can you say we have to take lessons from a country like this?” I demanded.  He replied, “Israel doesn’t kill innocent people. Israel kills terrorists.” I believe there are people in this world who know little and are not familiar with the facts, and there are others who know the facts yet manipulate and lie about them. There also are those who we won’t forget and can’t forgive. I raised my voice so everybody could hear me. “I’m from Palestine and my cousin was killed in the last war on Gaza. Samar was 29 years old and was murdered with her two sons and 8-month-old, unborn child. They were killed in their home by an air strike, while they were preparing food to break their fast. You consider them terrorists? I volunteered at the hospital during the 51-day onslaught last year and I didn’t see one single resistance fighter injured or dead. All I saw were civilians, mainly women and children. I saw my cousin with her children in one big black bag on the ground among other burned or mangled bodies. – See more at: http://wearenotnumbers.org/home/Story/114#sthash.Kebj6V9d.dpuf-“

  1.  On Oct. 27 the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counselling in Palestine released the following:

According to the latest data released by the UN on 23 October 2015, since the start of the recent upsurge in violence in Palestine/Israel (29 September to 19 October), 38 Palestinians and 7 Israelis have been killed, representing a ratio of 5:1. During the same period, 5,075 Palestinians and 41 Israelis have been injured, representing a ratio of 124:1.

During the same period WCLAC has documented 7 cases involving settler violence and night raids conducted by the Israeli military on Palestinian homes in the West Bank. What this evidence discloses is that in spite of recent media attention highlighting a recent upsurge in violence, night raids and settler violence are continuing much as before, suggesting that it is only when Israelis experience the effects of the occupation that the situation is worthy of significant attention.

How can we (UNJPPI and General Executive of United Church of Canada) faithfully respond to our partners in Palestine and Israel?

Jan McIntyre and Dawn Waring, returned Ecumenical Accompaniers, both currently in Palestine suggest:
“A good place to start is the opportunity to bring concerns regarding the occupation and the escalation of violence to our new government.  Credible facts are found on the UNOCHA website.   Canada is on record as supporting International Humanitarian Law – there is an increasingly long list of IHL (International Humanitarian Law) violations in regards to the occupation and this escalation of violence.”

Peter Larson makes explicit some very concrete actions which could be taken now to engage various ministers in the new government.  http://canadatalksisraelpalestine.ca/2015/10/24/lets-regain-a-reputation-for-fairness-with-respect-to-israelpalestine-some-suggestions-for-prime-minister-elect-trudeau.

This is a KAIROS moment and we plead with you to give this the immediate attention that is needed.

We pray that you will have a fruitful meeting and that you will direct staff to begin this work immediately.  UNJPPI is waiting to be helpful in any ways within our capacity.

Sincerely,
Rev. Steve Berube and Rev. Marianna Harris, co-chairs UNJPPI for the Co-ordinating Committee  srjberube@gmail.com;   holymom1@shaw.ca

UNJPPI News – Website updates – 2015-11-19

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
In 1977, the General Assembly called for the annual observance of 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (resolution 32/40 B). On that day, in 1947, the Assembly adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine (resolution 181 (II))
The observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People also encouraged Member States to continue to give the widest support and publicity to the observance of the Day of Solidarity.
Write to your MP to ask how Canada will observe the day.

Will Justin Trudeau change Canadian policy in the Middle East?
The election of Canada’s Liberal Party is likely to mean a shift away from the hyper-belligerent tone Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party used on issues pertaining to Middle East policy, but few concrete changes can be expected to take place. All signs point to the incoming government continuing to play a key supporting role in US-led imperialism in the Middle East.

Please Jo, call for equal rights and no more occupation
A letter to J.K. Rawlings calling her to stop opposing Culture Boycott of Israel.  The commentary is a good argument in support of BDS.

Dear Jo,

Growing up as a millennial, I was as inspired as everyone by your books. I spent a lot of time immersed in your rich universe, about which I could go on and on. Equally inspiring is the story of how you scribbled Harry Potter’s life onto napkins in a warm Edinburgh cafe as you struggled to pay for heating and relied on government benefits to raise your daughter. Rather than let your newfound wealth shield you from empathy, you’ve been outspoken about your duty to pay tax to support the state institutions that kept you alive, for which I commend you. For someone with vast economic power and fame to support social justice is noble.

Unfortunately, in signing on to the Culture of Coexistance letter condemning cultural boycotts of Israel, you have wielded your tremendous power against the some of the most powerless people in the world. I hope you will reconsider how you can make it up to the Palestinians by opposing how their culture is boycotted and destroyed through violence, and calling for equal rights and an end to the occupation.

Continue reading the full commentary on Mondoweiss

Our mailing address is:
United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel
PO Box 1342
Blenheim, ON   N0P 1A0
Canada
web site: http://www.unjppi.org

Our Solar Powered Home

Just over a year ago, I wrote a column telling you about the solar panels that were being installed at our home.  I told you that we hoped to produce as much electricity as we consume over a year, and I promised graphs.  Yes we did, and here is a graph.

Our system is a 4.16 kW grid-tied solar PV system.  PV means that it generates electricity, not heat; and grid-tied means that we use the grid as our battery.

In our first full year of production, we produced 3,872 kWh, and used 3,859 kWh.  So, we were net positive by 13 kWh, otherwise known as “the hair on our chinny chin chins”.  If we had run an electric heater for 10 hours, we would have used more electricity than we produced.

That is a very important point: Conservation is key when you are trying to generate your own electricity (and all the time).

The graph shows electricity production consumption bwproduced by our panels in light grey, and electricity we consumed in dark grey.  As you can see, we produced WAY more electricity in summer than in winter.  That is largely due to our short winter days, and partly due to the fact that we mounted the panels on our existing garage roof, which points east and west, not south.

We consume 50% more electricity in December than in July.  That is because of things like: longer lighting hours; furnace fan running; and we are home instead of being out canoeing somewhere.

So, what about maintenance?  We did remove snow regularly from the panels.  If it snowed overnight, Jim would usually scrape the snow off before leaving for work.  If it was promising to be sunny, he couldn’t bear to wait until the end of the day and possibly miss out on some production.  How big a job was this?  For me, basically zero – I only did it once.

We bought a roof rake, which is like a long handled shovel with the blade attached at a good angle for scraping the panels.  As you can see from the photo, it’s a bit awkward, but not too bad.  The snow slides off pretIMG_3097ty well when you pull it with the rake.  Once the snow is off the panels they don’t frost up at all, as long as it’s sunny.  The panels are dark, and warm up.   If you look at the graph, you’ll see that in the depths of winter, production is very low, so if we hadn’t scraped off the panels we wouldn’t have lost a lot of production – but we wouldn’t have been net positive.

Financially, the final cost of the panels, including a rebate from SaskPower came to $14,000.  What we saved on our power bill, plus what Saskatoon Light and Power has paid us adds up to $445, for a return on our investment in the first year of 3.2%.  In each province this number will be different, as utility rates and feed in tariffs etc vary by province.

Going forward, we’ll have to be careful not to let our electricity consumption increase.  It’s easy to say “oh, we’re producing clean electricity, it’s OK to use more”.  For now, it feels pretty good to have reduced the greenhouse gas emissions from our electricity consumption.

Angie Bugg manages energy conservation projects for the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, and is an active member of McClure United Church. You can contact her at angieb@environmentalsociety.ca “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1)

Angie manages energy conservation projects for the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, and is an active member of McClure United Church.  You can contact her at angieb@environmentalsociety.ca 

“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1)

UNJPPI News – Working Groups Invitation

Invitation to join Working Groups  [Print]

Friends:

On the last UNJPPI Coordinating Team call we made plans to involve people from across our Network in our work.

We are creating working groups with leadership from the Coordinating Team and a broad invitation for others to participate actively in these groups.

  1. Political advocacy with new government and with GCE.
  2. Education  through congregations:
  3. Local creative action
  4. Media Watch Group

Our intention is that each working group will create short and long term strategies; find ways to work with partners (other churches here and abroad and activists in our regions).  Each group will set specific measurable targets.  When Kathy returns from China we hope that she can devise a system for tracking and celebrating our achievements.

All of this work is directed to laying the groundwork for our longer term purpose of activating BDS as we discussed at Halifax.  In the meantime Kathy will be organizing materials to help us talk about BDS.

So here’s my ASK.

Please join a group.   Communication will be by phone or skype.  We really want people from various parts of the country to become active in this work.  Please e-mail one of the leaders of the group with which you want to work.  And they will be sending out more detailed announcements about their particular work soon.

Thanks to everyone who has made a financial contribution towards our work.   Another step we will take is to get a team to work on finances.  If this is your area of expertise let us know.

And a special thanks for thinking about your gifts and where you want to invest energy in our crucial work of encouraging Israel to stop identity-based discrimination and to respecting the human rights of Palestinians.   Energy, focus, and prayer will move us along this path.

Blessings, Marianna Harris, co-chair. UNJPPI

November 7, 2015

Let this be a Special Advent!

As we prepare for Christmas this year let us consider places around the world where real hope for real peace continues to dwindle.

In Palestine, the Apartheid Wall and illegal settlements limit our mobility, deny us access to our natural resources, and strangulate our economy. Wherever one looks, be it the prolonged and inhuman siege in Gaza, the isolation of East Jerusalem and the fragmentation of the West Bank, the fabric of Palestinian society is being torn to shreds.

Fear grows in the shadow of Israeli settler violence that has increased most dramatically per month. Settlers, accountable to no one and acting in total impunity, have set blaze to churches, mosques, and most recently, a house with its family inside, burning to death eighteen month old baby Ali Dawabsha and his father Saad Dwabsha. The mother Riham, also succumbed to her wounds in early September.

This prolonged occupation contorts the great human values born in the cradle of our Abrahamic faiths. Arguments about divine election and misinterpretation of the Holy Book are summoned to deny Palestinians their God-given rights and to justify policies of dispossession and expulsion. “They say: ‘Peace, peace’ when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). Our challenge must be to implement a course of action that can change the dehumanizing realities of our lives as Palestinians, both Christians and Muslims. If the arc of the moral universe does indeed bend towards justice, then let us continue pursuing a just peace with courage and confidence.

Palestinian resilience in the face of a prolonged occupation is a clear message that our humanity stands tall and a better future is possible. We are thankful for the growing international solidarity and efforts for justice in Palestine, and we hope those efforts will continue to push the international community to act in ways that bring melding and moderation rather than polarization and extremism to the Middle East.

This Advent season, we take you to Bethlehem accompanied by the spirit and actions of brave, unyielding and resilient Palestinian women, the bearers of good news. These women continue to weave hope every new day, just as their foremothers and forefathers did for centuries. Amidst suffering, they continue to explore the mysterious forces of faith, hope and love.
In the following reflections Hanadi takes us to the Apartheid Wall and reconfirms the love of parenthood and the struggle for normality under the wall’s suffocating impact.

Rania speaks to us of Palestinian resilience, unity, and mutual respect despite Israeli policies of “divide and rule.”

Amira shares with us the energy of Palestinian youth and their growing faith in the face of harsh realities.

Sister Virginie inspires us by affirming the status of Palestinian women, and tells of the blessed event when two Palestinian women were canonized by the Vatican as Saints in recognition of their great vision and selfless sacrifice for their communities.

Finally, we end this Christmas Alert with the message of the inspirational mayor of Bethlehem, Ms. Vera Baboun.  With her courage and persistence, she speaks of her desperate hope and new developments planned for the holy city of love and peace.

In Solidarity from Brazil, Nancy Cardoso reflects on the Alert for all women everywhere.

Our joint pledge this Christmas is to take our light out from under the basket and to act as agents for positive change in the Holy Land.Kindly start by widely sharing this document and former publications including the Kairos Palestine document; let our Kairos Call reach schools, congregations, universities, political representatives, theological institutes and church hierarchies. As Christians, we need to ensure that the global church critically revises a theology that justifies the oppression of peoples, and in its stead advocates a theology of justice and liberation, equality and peace. Our faith has empowered us with moral courage, love and faith to act boldly and speak prophetically. Do support Palestinian civil society in their non-violent struggle to boycott and divest from the occupation and injustice. ‘Come and see’, visit us, talk to Palestinian Christians, and find the truth which liberates both the oppressed and the oppressor.  Collectively we can make incredible change and turn the tide towards real peace. Together, we can make this Advent a time of reflection and action.  Let us stand firm, truthful and righteous and we shall be amply blessed and rewarded.

A very happy and fulfilling Christmas to all!

Dr. Hind Khoury, Secretary General (Kairos Palestine)

Kairos Palestine has published an Advent Resource.
You may read the resource on-line from the Kairos Palestine website.