Churches are standing up!

, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, 23 Jul 2017

Have you heard the news? In the last several weeks alone, more than 35 local, regional, national, and international church bodies have taken bold actions in support of Palestinian rights!

A flurry of churches — 17 and counting — have declared themselves HP-free across the country in denominations including American Baptist, United Methodist, United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalist, Presbyterian, Church of the Brethren, Quaker, Catholics, and others, as Friends of Sabeel – North America announced this week. The global Boycott HP Campaign campaign continues to escalate pressure on HP until it responds to these key questions and commits to ending its role in Israel’s abuses of Palestinian rights. Are you part of a church? Learn how your congregation can become HP-free. It’s easier than you think!

These principled churches have brought local congregations into the larger snowball of regional, national, and international churches taking action. Brace yourselves… there are a lot of them!

  • July 10 – The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada affirmed the rights of Palestinian children and called for withholding U.S. military aid to Israel with a nearly unanimous vote!
  • July 7 – The World Communion of Reformed Churches, with a membership of 80 million Christians worldwide called for solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and rejected any use of the Bible to legitimize injustice.
  • July 6 – The Mennonite Church voted by approximately 98% to institute a policy against investment in Israel’s military occupation!
  • July 2 – The United Church of Christ (UCC) General Synod (national) passed with 79% a resolution in defense of Palestinian children, having already passed divestment in 2015.
  • June 10 – The Minnesota Conference of the UCC voted 144 – 5 to divest its $8 million in investments from companies involved in the occupation.
  • May/June – Fifteen United Methodist Annual Conferences — representing thousands of congregations — adopted a total of 23 resolutions this year supporting the HP boycott, excluding investment in occupation, opposing anti-BDS legislation, and more.

That’s a lot to take in! After you’ve caught your breath, take a moment to thank the Disciples, Mennonites, and UCC so they know what broad support they have in this time.

A stone cross appears on a Palestinian building near the Israeli separation wall dividing the West Bank town of Bethlehem, April 29, 2014. (credit: Ryan Rodrick Beiler)

The Palestinian Christian community has long — through the Kairos Document — called on churches to support their struggle for collective liberation, a sentiment recently echoed by the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine’s letter to the World Council of Churches and the ecumenical movement. Learn more on the Palestine Portal.

At a time when Palestinian rights advocacy is under severe repression, churches are not backing down. We know that those defending Israel’s occupation malign boycotts, divestment, and sanctions as tools for social change for one simple reason: they work.

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US Campaign & ACLU on the Israel Anti-Boycott Act


 
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights

Hot off the press: The ACLU is raising red flags about the unconstitutionality of the latest, most draconian attempt to date to deny activists the right to boycott. For Congress to heed its call to oppose this bill, they need to hear from BDS supporters like you!

On March 23, Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rob Portman (R-OH), and Reps. Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Juan Vargas (D-CA), introduced the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S.720 and H.R.1697).

This bill seeks to impose fines and criminal penalties and deny government loans to corporations refusing to do business with corporations in illegal Israeli settlements. It infringes on our First Amendment right to promote boycott, divestment and sanctions and seeks to legitimize Israel’s settlements.

Click here to learn if your Members of Congress support the Israel Anti-Boycott Act and then contact them by phone and email to state your opposition to penalizing boycotting Israel and its illegal settlements.

When confronted by a reporter inquiring why he is seeking to penalize BDS supporters, the bill’s lead sponsor, Senator Ben Cardin, claimed: “We are very sensitive to freedom of speech.”

The ACLU, and we at the US Campaign, beg to differ. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act would punish business owners that boycott Israel or Israeli settlement products with “a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison,” according to a letter by the ACLU. It even goes so far as to penalize people for just requesting information about a boycott.

The ACLU explained its opposition to the bill:

    “The bill would punish businesses and individuals based solely on their point of view. Such a penalty is in direct violation of the First Amendment.”

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Gaza Lights Campaign

The electricity shortage impacts every family in Gaza. Please support the Gaza Lights Campaign!


 
It’s been 10 years of living under siege in Gaza. Three years after the most brutal Israeli assault. And things keep getting worse.

    Gaza now gets only about 2 hours of electricity each day.

Without electricity sewage goes untreated into the sea. Water doesn’t get pumped to high rise apartments or rural areas.

Everything has to be done in the dark — cooking, eating, caring for babies and those who are sick or old. Food rots in refrigerators. No fans cool the stifling Gaza summer. Children can’t read, and students can’t study. Candles have caused death and injury in tragic house fires. Hospital and home health equipment can’t function.

Recently a team of volunteer Gaza engineers designed a rechargeable, battery-operated system that can power lights, fans, and phones for twelve hours. While the only solution to this crisis is to end the Israeli/Egyptian blockade of Gaza and restore electrical power, in the meantime you can help people in Gaza survive.

The “Gaza Lights” systems will be produced quickly in Gaza and distributed to needy families by the Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees.

    Your contribution of just $11 will give one family in Gaza 3 lights for their home. $20 buys them a fan, $31 a rechargeable battery, and $91 a complete Gaza Light system.

To make a contribution dedicated to Rafah, send a check to “MRSCP” with the note “Gaza Lights” to

    MRSCP
    P.O. Box 5214
    Madison WI 53705

You can also contribute online at the Middle East Children’s Alliance:

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Demand the Release of Khalida Jarrar and Khitam Saafin

A Petition to Rex Tillerson, US Secretary of State; the European Union, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Khitam Saafin (left) and Khalida Jarrar (right)


Addameer Prisoner Support & Human Rights Association

Addameer calls for the immediate release of Khalida Jarrar and Khitam Saafin, who were arrested in pre-dawn raids by Israeli occupation forces on 2 July 2017.

On 9 July 2017, Saafin was issued a three-month administrative detention order, without charge or trial. On 12 July 2017, Jarrar was issued a six-month administrative order. Saafin and Jarrar’s trials are both based on secret evidence; therefore, their legal representatives are unable to fully address the prosecution’s argument, which asserts that Jarrar and Saafin pose a security threat.

Jarrar is a Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member and a member of the Board of Directors of Addameer. She has been the head of the Prisoners Commission of the PLC since 2006, and was appointed to the Palestinian National Committee for the follow-up to the International Criminal Court. Jarrar has been targeted by Israeli forces in recent years. She was released from prison in June 2016 after serving over a year, including one-month under administrative detention.

Saafin, president of the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, has spoken internationally and participated in many worldwide events, including the World Social Forum, linking women’s struggles internationally with the struggle of Palestinian women for national and social liberation.

This practice of arbitrary detention is a grave violation of international laws and human rights standards, specifically the Fourth Geneva Convention. Both women are prominent civil society leaders and additionally, their work meets the United Nations definition of a human rights defender. It is our belief that Jarrar and Saafin are being illegitimately targeted and punished by Israeli military authorities as a result of their significant human rights work.

Addameer reiterates its call for Jarrar and Saafin’s immediate release, as their detention constitutes an attack on Palestinian civil society leaders. Please take action and sign the petition now!

On Facebook Live: A Conversation With Roger Waters!

Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), July 7, 2017

On Saturday, July 15, tune in on Facebook and join us for a live, hour-long conversation on the cultural boycott of Israel with one of today’s leading musicians!

Live on Facebook: A Conversation with Roger Waters

Saturday, July 15, 2017
8pm Palestine / 5pm GMT / 12pm CDT
Live on the BDS National Committee’s Facebook page

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) is excited to host a conversation with Roger Waters on his support for the cultural boycott of Israel and Palestinians’ rights.

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Mennonite Church (USA) Says No Investing in Occupation!


, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, 06 Jul 2017

Big news! Minutes ago, the Mennonite Church (USA) voted to create an investment screen for the purpose of “withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation.” The resolution was approved near unanimously, with approximately 98% of the 548 voters supporting it. Click here to say thank you to the Mennonites!

The comprehensive resolution lifts up the rights of Palestinian refugees, citizens of Israel, and those living under occupation, calling for an end to U.S. military aid; urging church agencies and members to review their own investments; and encouraging individuals and congregations boycott products associated with violence or military occupation; among other things.

This is the largest margin yet by which such a vote has passed in a U.S. denominational assembly. Congratulations to
US Campaign member group Mennonite Palestine Israel Network (MennoPIN), who led this extraordinary initiative!

With this vote, the Mennonite Church (USA) joins the fast-growing list of denominations that have engaged in economic acts of conscience in recent years to support justice for Palestinians, including the Quakers, United Methodists, Presbyterians, United Church of Christ, Unitarian Universalists, Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men, the Alliance of Baptists, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The US Campaign was proud to support this crucial effort alongside several Palestinian friends, leaders, and organizations; and member groups Friends of Sabeel – North America, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the American Friends Service Committee.

I have been on the ground at the Mennonite Church USA convention here in Orlando, Florida with MennoPIN, working around the clock supporting their preparations, talking with delegates, providing strategic support, bringing lessons learned from the many church votes that came before this one, and speaking at delegate receptions.

But I couldn’t have been here without people like you investing in the US Campaign’s critical role in connecting, strengthening, resourcing, and lifting up amazing member group-led initiatives and successes like this.

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