Draft letter on Israel-Palestine is problematic, presiding officers say

By Matthew Davies
Posted Jan 17, 2013

[Episcopal News Service] Editor’s note: Click here to view the Episcopal Voices of Conscience letter and its signatories, which was released on Jan. 18.  

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings have said that a draft letter pressing the Executive Council to intervene in the implementation of the Episcopal Church’s policies on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is extremely unhelpful and disregards due legislative processes.

“Just as we don’t proof-text Scripture, we don’t proof-text resolutions, and our polity does not provide Executive Council as an appellate process,” Jennings told ENS after seeing a copy of the draft letter. “Each triennium, however, faithful Episcopalians who disagree with a decision of General Convention work to craft new legislation for a new convention, and that process is open to all of us.”

“Our work must begin by listening to those who live and work and have their being in the midst of the current conflicts, and equally attend to the conflicts in our own communities,” Jefferts Schori told ENS. “We cannot build a lasting peace by directing or imposing strategies on others.  We can encourage non-violent and transparent methods like those Jesus and his disciple Martin Luther King, Jr. did.”

The as-yet unsigned draft letter, titled “A Prophetic Challenge to the Executive Council,” includes a date of Jan. 21 to coincide with the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and invoking King’s call for justice.

The letter, seen by Episcopal News Service, calls on Executive Council to “immediately move forward with our church’s corporate engagement policy so that our financial resources are not being used to support the infrastructure of this suffocating occupation” and to provide a public account of this work.

“The church’s corporate-engagement policy with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unchanged since it was adopted in 2005, and its implementation is reflected in at least one shareholder resolution over the course of the past triennium, and in fact was the first major denomination to file a resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 19 years ago,” said Alexander Baumgarten, director of the church’s Office of Government Relations.

“Some Episcopalians had sought a different course for that policy at this past summer’s General Convention, but the House of Bishops declined to pass it after expressing concern that it could set a trajectory toward supporting boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel,” said Baumgarten, who also noted that the House of Deputies separately rejected boycott, divestment, and sanctions by an overwhelming margin.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was one of the major issues addressed at the 2012 General Convention, during which the Episcopal Church supported a resolution on positive investment in the Palestinian Territories. Meanwhile, the House of Bishops agreed to postpone indefinitely a conversation on corporate engagement.

“I am grateful that The Episcopal Church is currently poised to make such a positive economic investment,” Jefferts Schori told ENS.

Resolution B019 affirms positive investment “as a necessary means to create a sound economy and a sustainable infrastructure” in the Palestinian Territories. It also calls on the church to support “the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian study on peace with justice in the Middle East,” and produce an annotated bibliography of resources.

Resolution C060, which was tabled, would have called on the church to engage “in corporate social responsibility by more vigorous and public corporate engagement with companies in the church’s investment portfolio that contribute to the infrastructure of the occupation.”

One of the main arguments against adopting C060 centered on the fact that the Episcopal Church already has a policy of corporate engagement as recommended in the 2005 report of the Social Responsibility in Investments committee that was endorsed by Executive Council.

“General Convention is a great witness to the work of the Holy Spirit,” said Jennings. “Our work at convention is led by the Spirit, and we pray, worship, and sing in the midst of it to remind us that we serve God through our democracy. When we are done and legislation is passed, we stand together.”

Baumgarten agreed. “What we saw from the General Convention this past summer was a conscientious decision, after much debate, to call the Episcopal Church to walk a road of intentionality in bringing new people into the fight for a just peace to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and to take the road of reconciliation rather than further division,“ he said. “That decision affirms and builds upon 30 years of resolutions that call the Episcopal Church to support justice for all parties to the conflict.”

When called by ENS, the Rev. Canon Brian Grieves of Hawaii, listed in the document’s properties as an author, declined to go on the record until the statement had been released or to share the latest version.

The draft letter also calls on the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council to add its voice to other denominations that in October 2012 wrote to Congress “calling for accountability of Israel’s use of foreign aid from our government. The voice of the Episcopal Church is woefully missing in the request our colleagues made to Congress.”

Jefferts Schori has said that she was away from the office when the October letter to Congress was being developed, and was not aware of its existence until after it was made public, but has since expressed the belief that the strategy and content reflected in the letter are at odds with the course that the General Convention has asked the Episcopal Church to take.

“Signing hortatory statements or partisan letters almost always raises the conflict level, and discourages those on the receiving end of criticism from the kind of openness or vulnerability that is a necessary prerequisite to negotiation,” she said. “Given marked absence of such openness, other methods for motivating participation in negotiations seem most needed right now. That does not mean we should be condoning injustice or aggravated violence by any of the parties. It does mean we have to recognize that progress will not be likely or possible without active insistence that the parties come to the table and stay there.”

One of the effects of the letter to Congress has been a suspension of some longstanding dialogue between multiple Christian denominations and Jewish counterparts who support and work collaboratively toward a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The American Jewish Committee, one of the Jewish groups that withdrew from the dialogue process, was among those who had earlier praised the stances adopted by the Episcopal Church’s General Convention.

“The Episcopal Church has demonstrated its commitment to a negotiated resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and a rejection of unhelpful one-sided judgments aimed at Israel that do not advance the cause of peace,” said Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC’s director of interreligious and intergroup relations, who attended General Convention as an invited interreligious guest. “The path toward peace and security for both Palestinians and Israelis is the return without preconditions to direct negotiations for a two-state solution.”

Later in October 2012, Jefferts Schori wrote to then presidential candidates President Barack Obama and the Hon. Mitt Romney to use their campaign debate forum “to articulate strong support for a just and peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as a clear plan for how you would work to support that goal in the next four years.”

Jefferts Schori also joined 35 Christian leaders in signing a January 2013 letter calling on Obama urgently “to redouble his efforts for meaningful progress in the realization of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

General Convention’s Resolution B019 reaffirms the church’s official policy, based on resolutions passed at its previous General Conventions, committing to a two-state solution in which a secure and universally recognized state of Israel lives alongside a free, viable, and secure state for the Palestinian people, with a shared Jerusalem as the capital of both.

The draft letter says that “Israel must be held accountable for allowing an occupation for 45 years that suffocates the dreams of freedom that Palestinians hold every bit as much as African Americans sought on that day when Dr. King told the world that he had a dream. Occupation cannot be justified as a tool of security.”

The letter also says that “just as this church stood with South Africa and Namibia during the dark days of apartheid, so we recognize that we need to be standing with our sister and brother Palestinians who have endured an apartheid that Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has described as worse than it was in South Africa.”

The SRI committee report from 2005 acknowledged, however, that the situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories is not the same as the struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

“In the case of South Africa, the entire system of apartheid was illegitimate, and no actions short of dismantling it could be countenanced by the world community. The goal was the end of that South African regime,” that report said. “The case of Israel is different. Church policies clearly support Israel’s right to exist, and no companies should be involved, however inadvertently, in any way with organizations engaged in violence against Israelis. Companies can and should operate in Israel proper.”

Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani has said that investment in the Palestinian Territories and in the ministry of the Jerusalem diocese is what is needed at this time.

“As Christians, we are called to be peacemakers, to continue to provide hope where it is dim, to be voices of the voiceless, and to be advocates for a just and durable peace,” Dawani told a July 2011 conference at Lambeth Palace. “We must work together with people of other faiths to encourage the politicians to put politics aside and meet midway, where all people are equal; the marginalized and the powerful, the poor and the wealthy, men and women, children and the elderly, regardless of faith or social status.”

Jefferts Schori visited Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza over Christmas, a trip she said “led to encounters with people of good faith from each of the Abrahamic traditions, people seeking peace with justice for all.”

“Their voices were ones of moderation, not so easily heard in a world of polarizing headlines,” she told ENS. “To a person, they asked for solidarity and accompaniment by people of faith from other parts of the world. Our task as Episcopalians is to pray and work for peace – in our own countries as well as in the Middle East – through conversation with those who disagree with particular strategies, refraining from demonizing opponents, and building bridges across the chasms dividing our societies.

“May your kingdom come, O Lord, and speedily. May our work be fruitful in contributing to peace.”

— Matthew Davies is editor/reporter of Episcopal News Service.


Comments (24)

  1. James Tate says:

    Let us remember that the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East was for over a year denied the papers that allowed him to live in Jerusalem and thus do his job as Bishop. The Chief Rabbi of Israel urged to no avail that his papers be reissued. This is not a situation of equals. When Palestinians and Israelis attempt to peacefully protest they are met with teargas, sound grenades and yes gun fire. If it is not like South Africa, then Archbishop Tutu is wrong for he does see it as the same, no worse than South Africa. In South Africa there were no roads for whites only; there are Jewish only roads in the West Bank.(Built with American tases.) Why should Israel not tell how the dollars we give them for munitions are spent and how the phosphorous shells are used against cities. I have been there, as has the PB (twice!)
    Jim Tate

  2. Nigel A. Renton says:

    A gentle reminder: that the Anglican Bishop is properly referred to as the Bishop in Jerusalem, not “of” Jerusalem, as a courtesy to the Orthodox Bishop

  3. Prof. Taheri says:

    We all want peace, and yet, after more than a century of conflict, the struggle between these two related nations remains more intractable than ever. Why?

    Because each side is entrenched in its own narrative, to the exclusion of the other’s.

    Its faults notwithstanding, one must admit that Israel has taken some steps since the Oslo Accords toward acknowledging the Palestinian suffering. These steps are reflected in school books, in the media, and through other informational outlets. The Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza, for instance, are now referred to as “Palestinians,” and most Israelis would like to see a Palestinian state emerge. The fact that Israeli voters don’t reflect these wishes has to do with fears of surface-to-air missiles two miles from Ben-Gurion International Airport, and scarred memories of blown-up buses and pizzerias.

    The Palestinians, unfortunately, have done little to allay Israeli fears. While Palestinians clamor for the removal of onerous checkpoints and barriers, militant attempts to penetrate these barriers and attack Israeli civilians have not ceased at all since the second Intifada. Similarly, school books and speeches, in Arabic, have grown radical, to the point of portraying Israel’s very existence as a crime. Little has been done to acknowledge the Jewish roots in Palestine.

    The fact is that the Jewish presence in Palestine goes much farther back than most Palestinians, as well as Arabs and Muslims in general, would be willing to admit.

    Before 1948, Palestine was ruled by a series of empires. Before that Palestine was Judaea—a Jewish country. Jews have lived in Palestine continuously for more than 3,300 years. “Palestine” was the name given to the Jewish homeland in the second century by the Romans, in an attempt to break the Jewish adherence to the land. This was a century after the Jewish temple was destroyed and more than a million Jews were massacred.

    The Jews stopped fighting the Romans only after they had no more fighting men standing. As Evangelist William Eugene Blackstone put it in 1891, “The Jews never gave up their title to Palestine… They never abandoned the land. They made no treaty, they did not even surrender. They simply succumbed, after the most desperate conflict, to the overwhelming power of the Romans.”

    The Jews persisted through the centuries under the various empires, after the Arab invasion of 635AD (which they fought alongside the Byzantines), and after the Crusade massacres of the 11th Century, which decimated much of their population. They never stopped returning, and their numbers recovered. In the 19th century, before the Zionist immigration, Jews constituted the largest religious group in Jerusalem.

    Few Palestinians realize that Jewish customs, religion, prayers, poetry, holidays, and virtually every walk of life, documented for thousands of years—all revolve around Judaea/Palestine/Israel. For thousands of years Jews have been praying for Jerusalem in every prayer, after every meal, in every holiday, at every wedding, in every celebration. The whole Jewish religion is about Jerusalem and the Land of Israel. Western expressions such as “The Promised Land,” and “The Holy Land,” did not pop out of void. They have been part of Western knowledge and tradition dating back to the beginning of Christianity and earlier.

    After the Crusades, the Jews—including many who have returned over the centuries—lived peacefully with Arabs, often in the very same villages, as in Pki’in, in the Galilee, until the Zionist immigration of the 19th and 20th Centuries. Article 6 of the PLO Charter specifically calls for the acceptance of all Jews present in Palestine prior to the Zionist immigration. These Jews were simply another ethnic group in a region composed of Sunnis, Shiites, Jews, Druz, Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Circassians, Samarians, and more. Some of these groups, like the Druz, Circassians, Samarians, and an increasing number of Christians, are actually loyal to the Jewish State.

    Incidentally, genetic studies consistently show that Zionist immigrants (a.k.a., Ashkenazi Jews) are closely related to groups that predate the Arab conquest, like the Samarians, who have lived in Palestine for thousands of year.

    Palestinian denial of these facts may lead to events such as the ones brilliantly depicted in Jonathan Bloomfield’s award-winning book, “Palestine,” in which actual history and predicted events are thinly veiled as fiction.

    If, as the current Palestinian narrative goes, the Jews are not a people indigenous to Palestine but rather an invading foreign colonialist body, then they must be fought until they are removed from this land. Anything short of that, by any standard, would be injustice.

    Thus, war and bloodshed will continue until the Palestinians start acknowledging the Jewish narrative, and the fact that Jewish roots in Palestine date back thousands of years, long before the Arab invasion.

    1. Alice Hornbeck says:

      War and bloodshed need not continue until Palestinians or anyone acknowledge Jewish or any narrative, or how long anyone has been anyplace.

  4. Sean McConnell says:

    I have known Matthew Davies since he first came to work for ENS, and I’ve always found his reporting to be professional and on point. That is why I cannot figure out why he would agree to write a piece that covers reaction to what is nothing more than hearsay. A draft document, no matter who is listed in the properties, is just that, a draft. How did ENS come into possession of the draft? What was the agenda of the person passing it on?

    It is also obvious that there is an agenda to the article as it follows a linear support of a shared point of view about actions of General Convention and certain other actions of the Presiding Bishop to meet a rather unified end, but the only alternative voice is the “draft letter.” If a draft is your only counterpoint source, how can we know that your quotes will be the final letter or if they will even see the light of day? Was there no human available? The Rev. Vicki Gray? The Rev Naim Ateek? Anyone?

    It is as if ENS has become the Fox News of 815.

  5. F. William Thewalt says:

    The Episcopal Church has no business supporting Hamas, the Palestinians or Hezbolla. They are all terrorist organizations dedicated to the destruction of the U.S. Israel is the sole ally of the U.S. in a turbulent and angry Middle East. The church’s support of the Islamists is misplaced.
    F. W. Thewalt

    1. Sean McConnell says:

      The Episcopal Church has plenty of business supporting the Palestinian people.

      Comments like those by Mr. Thewalt are the mirror version of why critics of Israeli policies are sometimes called anti-semites. I have never once heard a member of TEC who speaks of justice for the Palestinian people mention that the church should support Hamas or Hezbolla. The Palestinians who you say are a “terrorist organization” are not a homogenous bunch of drones. They are a diverse group of people with a multitude of beliefs, points of view, leanings… they are men and women, mostly young, mostly hard working. In other words, other than the “mostly young” part, they are pretty much people like, well, all other people.

      Except that their houses and land can be taken away from them without cause. They cannot move freely within the bounds of their own land. They cannot all vote in elections for the people who make the decisions that directly effect their lives. And they cannot travel too far without being looked upon as just another terrorist.

      Mr. Thewalt, we are talking about our sisters and brothers. We have sisters and brothers in Christ who are Palestinians, Iranians, North Koreans, Malians, Somalis… No one in The Episcopal Church is saying we need to support Hamas, but plenty of Episcopalians are trying to live their lives “respecting the dignity of every human being.”

  6. I really wonder if the Bishop and her supporters have read the Palestine Kairos document and what their response is to that. The 1985 South African Kairos document distinguishes between State, Church and Prophetic Theology, and the Bishop is clearly engaging in what was termed “Church theology”, which is a very deceptive form of theology and spirituality as it pretends to do what Jesus and the prophets would have done but without taking a stand for justice and for the oppressed. The Bishop ought to reflect on the words of Jesus “I have not come to bring peace but a sword” and reject all false notions of peace. I understand her dilemma/strategy to some extent: if the Episcopal Bishop in Jerusalem (who dare not really speak the truth since there is a sword hanging over his head) says that he agrees with the Presiding Bishop, then that becomes her justification. Please Presiding Bishop, understand where the Bishop in Jerusalem is coming from and why would you not for example listen to Archbishop Atallah Hannah or Archbishop Sabbah? They provide other voices similar to the voice that Archbishop Tutu would have provided in South Africa in the 1980s. Israel now not only occupies a member state of the UN, it also is doing everything to nullify the existence of that state and people and surely we must stop covering this up? Please Episcopal Church, take a firm and clear stand. And if necessary, start a movement within the Episcopal Church that will stand against this application of “church theology” – this is what we had to do in South Africa….

    1. Shane Patrick Connolly says:

      Mr. Arrison conveniently overlooks the oppression practiced within the Palestinian territories by Hamas against its own people but sees fit to criticize the Middle East’s all-too-rare representative government. He also inaccurately describes Israel as an occupier of a UN member state. Palestine is not, in fact, a UN member state – they were recently granted observer state status yet the nations who approved this new status oddly did not insist that the Palestinians repudiate their commitment to the destruction of the state (and, by extension, people) of Israel. This is inconsistent with the most basic precepts of the UN Charter and with Christian theology, not simply inconsistent with Mr. Arrison’s construction of “church theology”. I have a feeling Jesus would not be pleased with the tactic of blowing up tourist buses, the stoning of homosexuals and rape victims, and other such practices of radical Islamists.

  7. Rev, Vicki Gray says:

    Oh, how this carefully parsed bureaucratic response to a call for justice hurts. Its many bloodless, gutless words in the face of manifold and manifest injustices against Palestinians recall the call for “moderation” from Birmingham’s religious establishment to whom Martin responded from that city’s jail. And, from the grave, one can hear Martin’s cry “There is a time when silence is betrayal.” In this statement, that time has come for the Episcopal Church vis-à-vis the Holy Land. It reeks of silence. It reeks of betrayal.

    It makes one wonder with whom the Presiding Bishop met during her Christmas visit or what she saw. Did she see the Wall? Shuhada Street? Sheikh Jarrah? Silwan? The refugee camps? The illegal settlements? The gun at Bishop Dawani’s head?

    It makes one wonder where that “midway” between justice and injustice lies and why we seek it.

    It seeks to refute comparisons with South Africa. But Capetown’s Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, who visited Palestine year before last, said he found the situation there worse than he had experienced in South Africa. And he said it in Jerusalem.

    It makes one wonder what the Presiding Bishop is afraid of. Does she not have faith that “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account”?

    It is time to speak the truth. You will be called names, but you will be blessed..

    1. Sam Empacher says:

      It is striking that those members of the Episcopal Church who insist on officially demonizing Israel and boycotting it make no effort at all to attack or boycott any non-Jewish country on earth, despite the utter horrors practiced in some of them.

      Saudi Arabia literally bans churches and the right of Christians to pray in public. It forbids women to drive. It represses a million Shiites. It practices sexual apartheid. And yet the Episcopal Church makes no effort at “corporate engagement” with respect to Saudi Arabia.

      China occupies Tibet and supresses freedom of religion. Are those who howl about Israel likewise supporting boycotting China, which has done far worse than anything that Israel has done, and received almost no international criticism for it?

      Nagorno Karabakh is literally occupied, as is Abkhazia. Has the E.C. made an effort to boycott Armenia and Russia?

      The entire Korean penninsula has the same legal status as the West Bank and Gaza (disputed territories; the legal category is not, in fact, “occupied territories”). Shall corporate engagement be used to address the Korean conflict, which has caused missile launches over Japan and which has led to the starvation of millions of North Koreans?

      The Syrian regime has massacred 60,000 of its own people – mostly civilians – for the second time since the 1980s, with the enthusiastic aid of Iran and Hezbollah, and this is the regime that sponsored Hamas for so long. There is nothing new about this horror – the regime that is doing it has always been run by mass-murdering psychopaths – but the Episcopal Church has made little effort, through engagement or BDS or any other policy – to do something about the horrors practiced by this regime for decades.

      Meanwhile, West Bank and Gaza Arabs live longer than Egyptian Arabs, have a higher standard of living than those in Jordan. They are ruled by a corrupt Palestinian Authority that continually steals from its own people and then tries to pin the blame on Israel. And you buy their lies and their manufactured crises and publish them with delight?

      The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a supporter of Israel.

      Why is it that so many of you only find a voice to demonize Israel?

      1. Dropping phosphorus bombs on Gaza I think is one of the reasons people are upset.

  8. Br. Tupper, TSSF says:

    Let us work, pray, and study in order to “restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” Let us spread a spirit of love and harmony. Let us, as Jesus asks of us, manifest a radical commitment to non-violence.

    1. V. Tupper Morehead, MD, MDiv, TSSF says:

      Let us work, pray, and study in order to “restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” Let us spread a spirit of love and harmony. Let us, as Jesus asks of us, manifest a radical commitment to non-violence.

  9. martha knight says:

    The Presiding Bishop’s response saddens me deeper than I can say. I encourage any and all comments to check out The Friends of Jerusalem website, whose commitment to humanitarian aid supports the occupied states as well. As Christians through our baptismal covenant we are called to be reconcilers and bearers of peace, especially as we approach the Week of Christian Unity.

    1. Anne Lynn says:

      Thank you Martha. While we all work toward a sustainable peace, the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem supports the institutions which teach and heal in the Holy Land. Families need jobs today, to educate their children now, to put food on the table tonight. They need our support both through advocacy and through humanitarian aid. A sustainable peace is only possible with both. AFEDJ’s mission is support for quality education based on tolerance and respect for differences and compassionate healthcare for all. http://www.afedj.org

  10. Alda Morgan says:

    Sadly, this “conversation” reflects the intractable conflict between the Palestinians and Israel: no one is really listening to anyone else. Few respond to what has been said by previous commenters and when they do, those few simply proclaim another iteration of their point of view and condemn those who disagree with them. If we can’t listen to each other, it is asking a lot of the Israelis and Palestinians to do so. But, as long as this goes on, there will be no resolution, no reconciliation, no peace.

    1. Ed McCarthy says:

      Alda Morgan makes singular good sense. Israelis and Palestinians, and their respective advocates are trapped within their own narratives. Recently, I attended a series of discussions on “Palestinian Narrative.” Two things became clear: Many, perhaps most, Palestinians are committed to a narrative of resistance to the Israeli occupation. This is understandable, and functional, given their being confronted by what is indeed a severe occupation. It is not useful if a compromise settlement, based on a 2-State solution, is to be reached. Correspondingly, many, again perhaps most, Israelis have a paramount concern with security, which they see as requiring control over a hostile Palestinian population; hence the occupation. This is again functional in the present context, but profoundly dysfunctional if compromise is hoped for. Is there a way out? Perhaps. It entails leadership: By Israelis, Palestinians and our own Government. The tragedy of the draft letter to the Executive Council is that it will do nothing to bring about what is needed, in particular it will do nothing to change American policy toward the conflict, even if the Executive Council should see fit to agree with it, which I doubt.

  11. Rev, Vicki Gray says:

    To Sam Empacher’s invocation of Martin’s support of Israel, the Israel of 1967 bears little resemblance to today’s Israel of colonization and apartheid. I, too, support a democratic Israel in which human rights are respected. And, by the way, I and many Episcopalians supported sanctions against South Africa’s apartheid regime.

  12. The Rev. Roy Hayes says:

    I resonate with the words of the Rev. Vicki Gray: “Oh, how this bureaucratic response to a call for justice hurts.” I would wager that the average Episcopalian sitting in our pews is altogether unaware that Christians who live in the Holy Land are Palestinians and that Christians and Muslims suffer together under Israel’s occupation.

  13. To end the bloodshed, Israel needs to end this brutal occupation. Jews were less than
    10% of the population of Palestine in the 1940’s but then they started immigrating from Europe after the holocaust. Some Christian Palestinian families have been there from the time of Christ. Some became Muslims during the Ottoman rule to avoid taxation.
    If people really care about Israel then they need to end the occupation.

  14. This letter might be one of the most appalling documents on the Middle East that I’ve ever read. There is no context here and no history. There is no acknowledgement of what people like Hamas mean when they say “Palestine.” Loaded terms like “oppressor” and “apartheid” are indiscriminately tossed around. To the people who signed this thing and to the people who agree with it, Israel is the one and only villain.

    The Presiding Bishop was right to criticize this poisonous, repulsive letter. Because she knows that if sentiment like this ever became current, Episcopal and Anglican influence in that part of the world would permanently end.

  15. The Rev. Carol L Huntington says:

    Thank you for the letter to Executive Council.

    In the past 14 months I have been privileged to be sent on a Witness Visit with Sabeel and have spent almost four weeks in Occupied Palestine.

    In the past several months I have personally and face to face expressed my dismay, disappointment and sadness to both our PB and The Bishop in Jerusalem. He told me “we do not want your interference”. His clergy do not agree with his position. His priests and people have invited us and welcomed us to “come and see” and then to witness to what we saw. We are doing just that.
    Perhaps the Anglican Church in the Middle East should move to Ramalla like the Quakers, or stay in East Occupied Jersusalem and not have any congregtions like the Methodits so they can do advocacy work….

    Five Companions of The Society of Companions of the Holy Cross went in November. We have spoken as a group to date to over 140 people in New England.

    We saw and listened to scores of people and were fed meals in Palestinian homes, caves and tents including people whose homes were under demolition orders by the Israeli government. Several places were being protected by Rabbis for Human Rights and Internationals as well as some direct action nonviolent peacemaking Israeli Jews. An IDF Helicopter flew low over head at a Bedouin tent in the South Hebron Hills at Susya.

    Settlements are illegal by all understandings of international law.

    Rabbi Brant Rosen, Vice President Rabbis for Human rights stated recently:

    “I have personally come to the very painful realization that Jewish nation-statism comes at a very real cost to our Jewish soul – compromising sacred values that teach us that all human beings are created in the image of God, that one law must be extended to all who live on the land, that we must love our neighbors as ourselves.”

    We met in Jerusalem with American-born Rabbi Arik Ascherman, past president of Rabbis for Human Rights, who has stood in front of bulldozers coming to demolish Palestinian homes, was beaten and imprisoned; He declared that the Israeli government today is “the world’s worst human rights violator.”

    We visited refugee camps where 18,000 Palestinians were sheltered, but were without drinking water and electricity where Palestinians have lived since 1948 or 1967 with raw sewerage where children played in the dirt rutted streets.

    There is so much more to tell you…

    TEC Executive Council should “accept the invitation of Sabeel “to come and see” before denying Palestinian rights for justice and peace.

  16. The Rev. Carol L Huntington says:

    correction to my post:
    Rabbi Brant Rosen, a congregational rabbi in Evanston, Illinois and co-chair of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council,
    not Rabbis for Human Rights.
    Thanks to Donna Hicks for bring this error to my attention!

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