Presbyterian Church (USA) reaffirms strong support to Palestinian rights

The 222nd biennial General Assembly, which took place in Portland, Oregon this week, the Presbyterian Church (USA) continued its strong support for Palestinian rights through a series of overtures. This information was forwarded by Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) through PIEF Core Group member, Katherine Cunningham.

Under pressure from Presbyterians- RE/MAX announces it will no longer profit from sales of Jewish settlements
An overture calling on real estate company RE/MAX to stop selling properties in Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law and official US policy passed without opposition. In addition, the General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the use of boycotts and other nonviolent measures in support of oppressed peoples throughout the world. These actions follow the historic vote of the General Assembly in 2014 to divest from companies that profit from and sustain Israel’s nearly 50-year-old military occupation of Palestinian lands, as well as the endorsement of a boycott of goods made in settlements.Just prior to the Assembly, the CEO and co-founder of RE/MAX, Dave Liniger, announced in a letter sent to the overture advocates of the Presbytery of the Redwoods that the company has “recently taken action to ensure that RE/MAX, LLC will no longer receive any income from the sale of Jewish settlement properties in the West Bank.”

“We’re pleased that RE/MAX is acknowledging that its operations in the occupied territories are problematic from a legal and moral point of view, but we’re waiting to see what this means in practical terms,” said Marita A. Mayer, the overture advocate. “RE/MAX must follow up this statement with concrete action to fully end its complicity in Israel’s occupation and theft of Palestinian land.”

In addition to the RE/MAX overture, the plenary of the General Assembly supported by over 70% a continuing study of the global grassroots BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions) movement for Palestinian rights and freedom. Rejecting attempts to categorically reject BDS and choosing instead to engage in prayerful study, the General Assembly recognized the historic commitment of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to nonviolent strategies for social change.

The plenary also approved a report submitted by the church’s Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) supporting measures that revoke tax deductions and 501(c) 3 status to organizations that promote and finance illegal Israeli settlements, encouraging Congress to investigate the use of US-made equipment in Israeli human rights violations, and supporting the enforcement of laws requiring the correct labeling of settlement products.

The Israel-Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) welcomes the advances made at this year’s General Assembly towards supporting a just and lasting peace in Israel and Palestine, and looks forward to continuing our work towards that end moving forward.

See more at:  http://mondoweiss.net/2016/06/presbyterians-announces-settlements/#sthash.08PK8819.dpuf

Actions in advocacy of Palestinian children and against military detention-
222nd biennial General Assembly

The approved text of the overture in advocacy of Palestinian children and against military detention:

  1.    Affirm the support of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as expressed by the 202nd General Assembly (1990), and for the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child as expressed by the 221st General Assembly (2014).
  1.    Calls, once again, upon the United States Senate to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and directs the Stated Clerk to communicate this call to all members of the United States Senate, the president, and the vice president.
  1.    Directs the Presbyterian Mission Agency, through the Office of Public Witness, to advocate and witness for the human rights of the children of Palestine and Israel until there is an amendment in the practices of the state of Israel so that they are in compliance with international humanitarian laws, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. In particular, mobilize Presbyterians everywhere to communicate with their senators, congresspersons, and the president of the United States their concern for the safety and well-being of the children of Palestine who suffer widespread and systematic patterns of ill treatment and torture within the Israeli military detention system, including but not limited to
  •     the use of physical violence (beatings, blindfolding, position abuse are examples) and psychological pressure (solitary confinement, threats of sexual assault and rape, verbal abuse, strip searching, threats, denial of food, water, and access to a toilet) to compel children and youth to give testimony, confess guilt, or to provide otherwise incriminating statements against their family, friends, and communities;
  •     denial of due process guarantees, including denial of the right to prompt access to legal counsel and other appropriate assistance, particularly the presence of a parent or family member during interrogation;
  •     psychosocial effects and obstacles to reintegration when released from the Israeli military prisons, loss of educational opportunities while in detentions, and access to education following their release from custodial detention;
  •     the discriminatory legal framework in force in the Occupied Palestinian Territory involving separate laws governing children based on religion or ethnicity (no Israeli child comes into contact with the military court system); and
  •     violent, late-night raids and arrests by heavily armed soldiers who invade their homes while they and their family members are asleep.
  1.    Call on the government of Israel to change its military detention system to
  •     stop night arrests;
  •     stop blindfolds and restraints;
  •     stop separation from parents and legal counsel;
  •     stop physical abuse and verbal threats; and
  •     stop isolation and coerced confessions.

5.  Call on the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and the government of Israel to denounce and cease the incitement of violence against children or at the hands of children.

Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation faces drastic cuts

Saskatchewan Conference has long been a member of the Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation. SCIC helps Saskatchewan people act on their desire to make the world a better place by educating us about global issues like poverty, health, and human rights, and encouraging individuals to take meaningful action. All of these are in keeping with the United Church’s understanding of the social gospel.  Our faith commitments to social justice don’t stop at our borders; they include all God’s people and all creation.

But now we need to take action for SCIC.

The June 1 provincial budget hit many Saskatchewan programs hard, including education and people living in poverty.  Buried in the details of the budget was an almost $500,000 cut which effectively removed the government’s support for SCIC.  Projects funded through government matching dollars “range from maternal health and food security, to co-operative business development, teacher training, children’s rights, emergency response, and more.”

What can we do?

  • Contact your MLA and let them know you do not support these cuts to Saskatchewan’s international development program
  • Not in the province? Contact Premier Brad Wall
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper
  • Share the news release and your reaction to the cuts via social media and email
  • Share your thoughts on the impact of these cuts on SCIC members’ work. Send them to director@earthbeat.sk.ca

For more information, see SCIC’s press release:
http://earthbeat.sk.ca/wp-content/blogs.dir/10/files/2016/06/News-Release-SCIC-Cut-in-Provincial-Budget.pdf

Sharron Bodnaryk is the Conference connection to SCIC and Julie Graham is the staff connection.

World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel

Dear friends,

The World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel will be held this year from September 18 – 24.  The theme is “God has broken down the dividing walls

New liturgical, action and animation resources can be found here: http://pief.oikoumene.org/en/world-week-for-peace/resources.  Given deeply troubling situation in Palestine and Israel, we hope that these resources offer inspiration for animation in your local contexts.  They invite us to seek to enter into dialogue and to continue to break down the dividing walls that prevent a just peace for Palestine and Israel wherever we are.

To this end, we also lift up the following resources:

·        “Anti-BDS legislation Violates Free Speech” by David Wildman, an article that outlines the rise of Anti-BDS legislation that “seeks to empower state governments to punish selectively some who exercise their First Amendment rights” http://www.peaceforlife.org/files/March-May%202016%20Issue%20Final%20(small).pdf.  These developments that are paralleled in Canada with the recent motion in the House of Commons and failed attempt to pass Bill C-202 in Ontario.

·        The “Let’s Keep Talking” resources ( http://www.united-church.ca/social-action/justice-initiatives/lets-keep-talking ) invite members of United Church faith communities to engage in “courageous conversations” about just peace in Palestine and Israel. These resources are designed to help participants move beyond some of the myths, barriers, and questions that hold many of us back from fully engaging in the Unsettling Goods campaign. May these faithful and challenging conversations seed new understandings and new relationships.

In September, let us join together with people around the world to respond to the call to break down the walls that divide to build a just and lasting peace in Palestine and Israel.  The World Week for Peace in Palestine and Israel is an initiative of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches

Regards,
Christie Neufeldt
Program Coordinator
Church in Mission
The United Church of Canada
3250 Bloor St. West, Suite 300
Toronto, ON M8X 2Y4
1 800 268 3781 / 416 231 7680 ext. 4078
Fax: 416 231 3103
www.united-church.ca

Join the UNJPPI Media Watch Campaign

Concerned about Canadian Media’s reporting (or lack thereof) of events in Palestine and Israel but feeling unsure of what to do about it? Or like a voice on your own?

If you are interested in joining in on the inaugural training session on Wednesday, June 8, 2016, at 7:30 pm EDT
email Karen Rodman at krodman@wightman.ca.

Also contact Karen if you want more information
or to join in a later training session.
(See also on UNJPPI website)

By educating the media, we are also educating the public.  More accurate and fair reporting about the issues in Palestine-Israel is essential to public understanding.  By naming the concerns, we show the media we are paying attention and holding them accountable for what they report.

It was for these reasons, that over the last few months, individuals have joined together to monitor the Canadian media through UNJPPI’s Media Watch Campaign. This has given us some insight into not just national coverage but also local coverage across the country. It also led to a network of like-minded organizations working together so our work is not duplicated and we can be more effective.

You can get involved:

  1. Join the UNJPPI Media Watch Facebook Group: and get an understanding of media across the country, as well as to contribute articles you find.  The group encourages each other in writing responses. We are using our learnings from this pilot to inform our next steps. You could join this group, by contacting Karen Rodman krodman@wightman.ca.
  2. Not a Facebook user but want to write letters. No problem.  CJPME (Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East) will have their updated platform launching shortly.  This will be a robust way for liked minded people and organizations across the country to come together in media response. Let Karen know if you want more information.
  3. For now, whether you join with the pilot Facebook group or not, we encourage you to simply continue with the media you normally read/watch and if you find an article about Israel and/or Palestine consider using these excellent resources from CJPME:

We also are looking at other ways to provide support and training over the coming months, such as:

  • We hope to find people who have experience in getting letters successfully published in media, who are willing to “buddy” with others who would appreciate a mentor.
  • Provide forums for training and idea sharing.
  • Work on special projects with like-minded organizations and individuals.

If you are interested in being a buddy or being mentored, or other projects contact Karen Rodman at krodman@wightman.ca.