Deputies’ committee amends Palestine resolution before sending it to House’s floor

By Logan Crews
Posted Jun 24, 2024

[Episcopal News Service – Louisville, Kentucky] The House of Deputies’ Social Justice & International Policy Committee met June 24 to discuss resolutions heard in the House of Bishops the previous day and resolutions still pending on the bishops’ legislative calendar.

Committee members’ discussion focused primarily on four of the seven resolutions related to the long-standing conflict in the Holy Land and the more recent war between Israel and Hamas – resolutions that the bishops struck down.

It landed like a “gut punch,” said the deputies’ committee chair Janet Day-Strehlow from the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe.

Strehlow said it was no surprise that bishops took issue with resolutions defining the state of Israel’s legal system as one of apartheid and expressing solidarity with the boycott, divest, sanctions movement. However, the committee was surprised to hear that the bishops voted down resolutions condemning Christian Zionism and affirming Palestinians as an Indigenous people of the land between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River – resolutions D006 and D004 respectively.

The committee concurred with the bishops on resolutions D007 and D009, and they adopted D013, with two amendments to the version passed by the bishops.

The committee removed language the bishops added to D013 that asserted Hamas hides armed combatants in hospitals, schools and other places where civilians are sheltered. They also restored language bishops struck, referring to the current government of Israel’s pursuance of “apartheid” policies against the Palestinian people.

Apartheid is defined by the existence of “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them,” according to the United Nations International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.

“We’re putting a lot of energy into wondering what happens when we use the word, but we have to put equal energy into wondering and understanding what happens when we don’t,” said Leeann Culbreath, a deputy from the Diocese of Georgia. “Who does that impact? What is the impact on our church? And what is the impact on our souls and our moral stance in the world when we’re not able to call something what it is, what it is legally?

D013 will next move to the floor of the House of Deputies for discussion. If passed by the deputies, it will return to the House of Bishops Social Justice & International Policy Committee. Day-Strehlow encouraged committee members to talk to their bishops about the resolution.

In another action, the deputies’ committee concurred with the bishops on Resolution C013, calling for the church to adopt “migration with dignity” as a framework.

The committee also briefly mentioned upcoming resolutions D056 and D075, both regarding Israel-Palestine; D060 regarding the crisis in Haiti; and D062 regarding support and solidarity with Armenia.