In massive shift, Lutherans vote to halt US aid to Israel

Ryan Rodrick Beiler, The Electronic Intifada, 17 August 2016

Lutheran church wants US to halt aid to Israel until settlement construction and human rights abuses end. (Ryan Rodrick Beiler)

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has become the latest US denomination to take economic action against the Israeli occupation.

At its triennial assembly last week in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the four million-member church, one of the largest in the US, voted on two separate resolutions targeting Israel’s occupation and human rights abuses, passing each by a landslide.

The first resolution calls for the end of US aid to Israel until it ceases violations of international human rights norms, specifically the ongoing construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

It passed by a 751-162 vote, or 82 percent, on 12 August.

The US gives Israel more than $3 billion every year, despite laws that prohibit aid to countries with persistent records of human rights violations. The Obama administration has vowed to increase that sum over the coming decade in what would be the largest military aid package the US has ever given any country.

The second resolution, adopted by a 90 percent margin on Saturday, calls for the creation of a “human rights social criteria investment screen,” specifically citing concerns raised in the church’s Middle East policy.

The Lutheran church has deep ties to Palestinian churches which are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Reverend Mitri Raheb, whose Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem is one such congregation, was one of the authors of the Kairos Palestine Document which calls on churches around the world to use “boycott and disinvestment as tools of nonviolence for justice, peace and security for all.”

“By adopting this investment screen, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is taking an important step to ensure that we are not profiting from, or complicit in, injustice in the Holy Land and elsewhere,” said church member Jan Miller in a press release from the grassroots group Isaiah 58. The group describes itself as Lutherans advocating “for an end to Israel’s occupation and a just peace for both Israel and Palestine.”

Dramatic shift

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Unitarian Majority for Divestment; Presbyterians Take it to the Next Level!

Anna Baltzer, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, June 25th, 2016

I cannot remember a more significant day in church activism for Palestinian rights than the past 24 hours.

The largest gathering of UUs in the country just voted on whether to endorse the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)’s recent divestment from companies complicit in the Israeli occupation. The general assembly achieved a simple majority while falling short of the two thirds needed for passage.

Delegate reads testimony from FOSNA citing the lack of Palestinian voices on stage.

We congratulate member group Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East (UUJME), which led a dynamic campaign, building the momentum and leverage to achieve actual divestment more quickly than any other denomination has!

Just last night, the Presbyterian Church (USA) passed a series of powerful overtures by a landslide with the strong leadership of member organization Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Overtures included: 

  1. Committing the church to prayerfully consider the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) and engage with its writers; 
  2. Calling on Re/MAX, which sells homes in illegal settlements, to follow through on a new promise it made in a recent letter to the church to stop profiting from settlement sales
  3. Calling on Israel to end its gross mistreatment of Palestinian children and on the Presbyterian Mission Agency and the U.S. Senate to take active steps toward that end.
  4. Urging the IRS to investigate and possible revoke the tax-exempt status of organizations supporting Israeli settlements; 
  5. Asking the U.S. government to enforce laws requiring correct labeling of place of production of Israeli settlement goods; 
  6. Urging Congress to hold hearings into the use of U.S. military and police equipment by the government of Israel; 
  7. Recommending that the Presbyterian Foundation and Board of Pensions refrain from investments that support violence against Israelis or Palestinians.

US Campaign Steering Committee member Sydney Levy.

Supporters of Israel’s discriminatory policies tried repeatedly to introduce amendments and resolutions maligning BDS at the Presbyterian assembly. They even brought forth a resolution specifically calling on the church to distance itself from the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation because of our significant role in advancing BDS nationwide. The Presbyterian commissioners soundly rejected every one of these attempts, electing instead for Presbyterians to consider the Palestinian BDS call for themselves

US Campaign staff and Steering Committee members were proud to be on the ground supporting both of these tremendous efforts with testimonies and strategic support, along with the significant and powerful contributions of member groups Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace, American Friends Service Committee, and Friends of Sabeel-North America (FOSNA).

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April 7, 2016
Linda Sarsour on Racial Justice & Interfaith Cooperation

 

7:00 – 9:00 pm
The Crossing
1127 University Ave.
Madison, WI

Linda Sarsour is a working woman, racial justice and civil rights activist, every Islamophobe’s worst nightmare, and mother of three. Ambitious, outspoken and independent, Linda shatters stereotypes of Muslim women while also treasuring her religious and ethnic heritage. She is a Palestinian Muslim American and a self-proclaimed “pure New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn!”

She is the Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York and co-founder of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPOWER Change.
Linda has been at the forefront of major civil rights campaigns including calling for an end to unwarranted surveillance of New York’s Muslim communities and ending police policies like stop and frisk. In wake of the police murder of Mike Brown, she co-founded Muslims for Ferguson to build solidarity amongst American Muslim communities and encourage work against police brutality. She is a member of the Justice League NYC, a leading NYC force of activists, formerly incarcerated individuals, and artists working to reform the New York Police Department and the criminal justice system.

The lecture is sponsored by The Crossing Ingraham Fund in collaboration with UW-Madison Students for Justice in Palestine.

Questions, please contact:
Rev. J. Manny Santiago, Executive Director
The Crossing
1127 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53715
(608) 257-1039 ext. 1
(608) 255-1134 fax
manny at crossingministries.org

May 5 – 6, 2014
Mark Braverman in Madison

Mark Braverman, author of Fatal Embrace: Christians, Jews and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land and A Wall in Jerusalem: Hope, Healing and the Struggle for Peace in Israel and Palestine, will be speaking in Madison. Mark is an American Jew with deep family roots in the Holy Land. He is on the advisory board of Friends of Sabeel, co-founder of Friends of Tent of Nations (a nonprofit dedicated to supporting Palestinian land rights), and Program Director for Kairos USA (a movement to unify and mobilize American Christians to respond to the suffering and hopes of Palestinian Christians as articulated in the Kairos Palestine declaration).

Schedule:

  • Monday, May 5, 7:00 pm – “The Path to Peace in Israel and Palestine: A Jewish American’s Journey”, Pyle Center, UW campus [Map]
  • Tuesday, May 6, 8:30-10:00 am – Breakfast with pastors and lay leaders. Mark will talk about the role of faith communities in achieving peace in the Holy Land. No reservations necessary. Christ Presbyterian Church [Map]
  • Tuesday, May 6, 2:00 pm – “Toward a New Theology of Land and the Quest for Peace in Israel and Palestine”, Anderson Auditorium, Predolin Hall, Edgewood College [Map]
  • Sponsored by local Bright Stars of Bethlehem, the Southwest Association of the United Church of Christ Bethlehem Partnership, Memorial United Church of Christ, Christ Presbyterian Church, Midvale Lutheran Church, the Havens Center, Edgewood College, Pilgrims of Ibillin, Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, and Students for Justice in Palestine – UW-Madison.

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    March 31, 2014
    Rev. Mitri Raheb at Edgewood College


    Edgewood College
    Anderson Auditorium
    Predolin Humanities Center
    3:00 pm [Directions]

    Rev. Mitri Raheb, pastor of Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem and director of the Diyar Consortium, will be speaking in Madison as part of a tour for his new book Faith in the Face of Empire: the Bible Through Palestinian Eyes.

    Since 1992 Rev. Raheb has founded and led a number of projects and institutions serving the social needs of Palestinians living in the Bethlehem area, focusing specifically on women, children, youth, and the elderly.

    Sponsored by local Bright Stars of Bethlehem, the Southwest Association of the United Church of Christ Bethlehem Partnership, Memorial United Church of Christ, Christ Presbyterian Church, Midvale Lutheran Church, Pilgrims of Ibillin, and Edgewood College.

    For more information contact Bonnie Van Overbeke at bonnievano (at) aol.com.