July 25, 2018
Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb and Pastor Everett Mitchell

Wednesday, July 25 at 7 PM – 9 PM
Christ The Solid Rock Baptist Church
1502 Parkside Dr, Madison, Wisconsin

Pastor Mitchell of Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church will present with Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb on “The Black Church and Palestinian Theologies: Intersections of Faith in the Face of Empire”.

Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb
Rev. Dr. Raheb is President of Bright Stars of Bethlehem and founding President of Dar al-Kalima University of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem. Former Senior Pastor of Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem and the most widely published Palestinian theologian to date, Dr. Raheb is the author of 17 books most recently including, The Cross in Contexts: Suffering and Redemption in Palestine, and Faith in the Face of Empire: The Bible through Palestinian Eyes. A civic leader and social entrepreneur, Dr. Raheb has founded numerous organizations and serves on many regional and international boards.

A sought-after speaker, Dr. Raheb has been widely featured on international media outlets including CBS, CNN, ABC, BBC, PBS, The Economist, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Newsweek, and 60 minutes. Dr. Raheb holds a Doctorate in Theology from Philipps University of Marburg, Germany.

Pastor Everett Mitchell
Reverend Mitchell is the Senior Pastor of Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church in Madison, WI. He is also currently the Director of Community Relations for the University of Wisconsin Madison. He was formerly an Assistant District Attorney in Dane County Wisconsin. In the past, he served as the Associate Director of Madison-area Urban Ministry. Rev. Mitchell’s theological focus has been examining the relationship of the church to social issues, such as poverty, war, incarceration and immigration. He holds both a Masters of Divinity (M.Div.) in Christian Ethics and a Masters of Theology (Th.M.) in Social Ethics from Princeton Theological Seminary.

SPONSORED BY: First Unitarian Society, Shaarei Shamayim Jewish Synagogue, Lake Edge Lutheran Church, Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church, and Bright Stars of Bethlehem Madison Area Representatives.

Supreme Court Upholds Muslim Ban

Statement from AAI Executive Director Maya Berry on the Supreme Court’s decision in Trump v. Hawai’i, June 26, 2018

Washington, DC — Today, Arab American Institute Executive Director Maya Berry released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Muslim Ban case:

“Along ideological lines, the Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s xenophobic Muslim Ban that discriminates against individuals predominantly because of their Muslim faith or national origin. A vast majority of those impacted by the ban are Muslim, with four Arab countries included in those singled out. This policy is not rationally related to national security interests and will continue to tear families apart while undermining America’s standing in the world.

The Muslim Ban was implemented among an unprecedented amount of evidence of a policy enacted to codify the religious animus of the Trump administration. As a candidate for the presidency, Donald Trump stated, “I think Islam hates us… we can’t allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States…” He called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Once in office, President Trump added security concerns as a mere pretext for bigotry, noting that “People were so upset when I used the word Muslim. Oh, you can’t use the word Muslim… I’m talking territory instead of Muslim. The majority’s unwillingness to recognize this reality renders those justices complicit in the damage this policy will continue to inflict on immigrant communities in this country.

President Trump justified his Muslim Ban by stating that Roosevelt “did the same thing” regarding the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. As the dissent notes, this holding will echo Korematsu v. United States as a standard of judicial injustice history will not soon forget. Justice Sotomayor wrote, “the Court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one “gravely wrong” decision with another.” The U.S. Government formally apologized for the injustice of interning Japanese Americans 46 year after that horrific episode. Arab American and American Muslim communities should not be victimized by a repetition of history, subjected to discrimination without apology or consequence while the Government slowly finds its moral compass.

Instead of neutral arbiters upholding fundamental rights, today’s decision seems to have been reached by politicians in robes. The majority bought President Trump’s bigotry hook, line, and sinker. This decision undermines both the world’s confidence in America, and America’s confidence in our highest court.

With this ruling, the majority has given a blank check to President Trump and future presidents to discriminate simply by claiming national security justifications. Today we need Congress, as a coequal branch of government, to act to affirm the equal dignity of all, regardless of religion or national origin. In spite of this decision, AAI will continue work tirelessly with both the legislative and judicial branches toward the goal of ensuring that all Americans, as well as guests in our country, are free from government-sponsored discrimination.”

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RE/MAX Israel Sells Properties in Illegal Israeli Settlements

CODEPINK, June 16, 2016

This weekend is the Presbyterian Church’s biannual General Assembly. Among the many social justice issues they will address is a resolution calling on real estate giant RE/MAX to stop facilitating property sales in illegal Israeli settlements.

In 2016, right before the last Presbyterian Church General Assembly, RE/MAX founder and then-CEO Dave Liniger announced that the company would stop receiving revenues from settlement properties. But they continue to allow their Israeli franchise to rent and sell settlement houses, and they continue to include settlement properties in their global database. With your help, this time we will succeed in getting RE/MAX to fully extricate themselves from Israel’s settlement enterprise. Add your name to the letter we are sending to current CEO Adam Contos at this year’s General Assembly!

There is no question about the illegality of Israeli settlements. They violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which says that an occupying power may not move its people onto the land it is occupying. Numerous UN resolutions have been passed calling for Israel to stop settlement construction. Numerous reports from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and others have been published citing the direct role settlements play in human rights abuses against Palestinians and calling on companies like RE/MAX to immediately cease all settlement business.

We have been protesting RE/MAX’s involvement in Israeli crimes since 2014. We have held rallies outside RE/MAX offices and at the RE/MAX, LLC headquarters in Denver. We have disrupted RE/MAX conventions and shareholder meetings. We know we are close to a win. Now, it is time for the final push. Join our letter to RE/MAX, LLC telling them to immediately remove settlement listings from their global database and end all complicity in Jewish-only Israeli settlements.

Towards freedom and equality in Palestine,
Ariel and everyone at CODEPINK
 

Standing with my Muslim neighbors in the wake of Jerusalem and Gaza

Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman, The Cap Times, May 17, 2018


Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the opening ceremony of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on Monday, May 14, 2018, left, and on the same day, Palestinians in Gaza City carry the body of Mousab Abu Leila, who was killed during a protest at the border of Israel and Gaza. Netanyahu praised the inauguration of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem as a “great day for peace,” as dozens of Palestinians have been killed in Gaza amidst ongoing clashes. (AP Photo)

As I watched the glitz and glamour of the celebration marking President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, I was filled with shame. The backdrop of Israeli and American flags emblazoned with “Thank You President Trump” smacked of self-righteousness and complacency. One political leader after another emphasized his or her unwavering support for Israel without regard for Palestinian rights or sovereignty. Two evangelical pastors invited to bless the celebration had long public records of vilifying Muslims and Jews, among many others. As a rabbi I felt deeply shaken; this spectacle was a violation of everything I believe in.

As I watched, scenes of the Israeli military firing live ammunition on protesters in Gaza flashed across my screen. On this one day, May 14, the military killed 58 Palestinians and injured thousands. The excessive and lethal force against protesters who posed no imminent threat to Israeli soldiers or civilians was chilling. Palestinian leaders explained why they were protesting in the Great March of Return: Israel’s military siege was strangling their economy, making every aspect of their lives intolerable. They wanted the world to know that 70 years ago their people became refugees as Jews, many of them refugees themselves, established the state of Israel.

While most American Jewish organizations rejoiced at the Embassy move and defended the killings in Gaza, I sensed that many American Jews were not so sure. After all, we overwhelmingly distrust President Trump and oppose every move of his presidency, from the Muslim ban to anti-immigrant legislation to support for the NRA to stripping the poor of what’s left of a meager safety net. That he panders to antisemitic white supremacist groups and aligns himself with the Christian right’s anti-woman platform only fuels our disgust.

We recognize that Jerusalem is a city of many faiths, filled with religious sites that are sacred to Jews, Muslims, and Christians. By moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, the United States and Israel have destroyed Palestinian aspirations that it could be the shared capital of both peoples, and Trump has sent a clear message: He is opposed to brokering a just and viable Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

To fully appreciate why Palestinians are protesting in Gaza, we must try to comprehend the humanitarian disaster on this tiny strip of land that is home to 2 million Palestinians. Gaza is an open-air prison. Israel controls its borders, allowing very few people or goods in or out. As the unemployment rate soars over 40 percent, despair runs deep. Three wars have pounded the Strip to dust, destroying its basic infrastructure. Now, most people enjoy just a few hours of electricity a day. Hospitals are gravely short on medications and supplies. Most Palestinians do not have access to clean drinking water. In just two years, according to the United Nations, their one source of water will be depleted.

Our leaders refuse to listen. Instead, they celebrate the Embassy’s move to Jerusalem and defend Israel’s disproportionate response in Gaza. But we must recognize this for the hubris it is. As the Hebrew Bible teaches, “Do not stand idly by while your neighbor’s blood is shed.”

As the holy month of Ramadan begins for my Muslim neighbors and friends, please know that many Jews stand with you. We refuse to be silent in the wake of the Embassy move and Gaza killings. We hold the Israeli government responsible for the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. We embrace a vision of a shared Jerusalem as we honor your religious traditions.

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Statement on the attack on Palestinians of Jerusalem

Friends of Sabeel North America

On Sunday, February 25, church leaders from the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Armenian Apostolic churches in Jerusalem shut down the Church of the Holy Sepulcher until further notice. They did so in protest of a new municipal law demanding that church leaders pay over $190 million to the state of Israel in back taxes on church properties that were formerly tax exempt.

More information on the new law

The new law is part of an ongoing campaign to target and push out Palestinians in the holy city of Jerusalem. We stand with these church leaders in their boycott of this gross injustice, which is meant to make it more difficult if not impossible for Palestinian Christians to continue to live in Jerusalem. Sacred lands are never for sale. We raise outcry over the mass displacement of all Palestinians, whether Muslim or Christian, from Jerusalem. We support the leadership of the churches in boycotting injustice, and we call on church leaders around the world to follow their lead, heeding international calls for boycott, divestment, and sanctions on Israel until it complies with basic standards of international law and ends its decades long campaign to wipe out the indigenous Palestinian population.


Statements From Church Leaders in Jerusalem

FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. POLITICAL PERSECUTION LEADS TO THE CLOSURE OF CHRISTIANITY’S HOLIEST SITE

The leaders of Jerusalem’s churches have today announced the unprecedented decision to close the Church of the Holy Sepulchre until further notice, in protest at persistent moves to intimidate Christians and discriminate against churches in the Holy Land. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which dates back to the fourth century, is considered to contain the sites of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, making it the holiest site in the world for Christians.

The decision to close the Holy Sepulchre comes in response to recent actions by the Jerusalem Municipality and by members of the Israeli Knesset. The Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, is attempting to enforce a punitive and retroactive tax on church properties in the Holy City. Furthermore, Knesset member, Rachel Azaria (“Kulanu” party)  is seeking to advance the “Bill of Church Lands”, which would give the Israeli government the power to confiscate church property. These actions contravene the long held Status Quo which is foundational to the guarantee of the churches’ rights and privileges in the Holy Land; and critically undermines the ability of churches to carry out their pastoral mission of housing the community, feeding the poor, caring for refugees, running schools for local children and maintaining the holy sites. Above all, they imperil the continuation of the Christian presence in Jerusalem. 

The closure was announced on Sunday by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Catholic Custos of the Holy Land and the Armenian Patriarch. Their joint statement argues that ‘the systematic campaign against the Churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land’ has ‘reached an unprecedented level as the Jerusalem municipality issued scandalous collection notices and orders of seizure of Church assets, properties and bank accounts for alleged debts of punitive municipal taxes.’  The statement also highlights the ‘discriminatory and racist bill that targets solely the properties of the Christian community in the Holy Land.’ 

Both developments come in a period when Christians are suffering an escalating campaign of intimidation from radical settler groups. Churches face daily desecration and vandalism and Christians are regularly subjected to violent assault as they travel to pray. These groups have long used intimidation, bribery and extreme anti-social behaviour in an attempt to force Christians and other non-Jews out of the Holy City. While their actions clearly contravene Israeli law their crimes go largely unchecked.

Statement on Municipal threats and the discriminatory “Church Lands Bill” 25.02.2018

We, the heads of Churches in charge of the Holy Sepulcher and the Status Quo governing the various Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem – the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, the Custody of the Holy Land and the Armenian Patriarchate – are following with great concern the systematic campaign against the Churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land, in flagrant violation of the existing Status Quo.

Recently, this systematic and offensive campaign has reached an unprecedented level as the Jerusalem municipality issued scandalous collection notices and orders of seizure of Church assets, properties and bank accounts for alleged debts of punitive municipal taxes. A step that is contrary to the historic position of the Churches within the Holy City of Jerusalem and their relationship with the civil authorities. These actions breach existing agreements and international obligations which guarantee the rights and the privileges of the Churches, in what seems as an attempt to weaken the Christian presence in Jerusalem. The greatest victims in this are those impoverished families who will go without food and housing, as well as the children who will be unable to attend school.

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December 3, 2017
Lessons and Carols for Advent


First Congregational United Church of Christ
1609 University Avenue, Madison
7:00 pm

The local Bright Stars of Bethlehem chapter presents its fourth annual Advent Lessons and Carols service to support Dar al Kalima University College in Bethlehem. Musicians and readers from over a half-dozen local congregations will present beautiful music and you can join in singing some favorite songs of the season.

Explore not only the Bethlehem of Jesus’ birth but also the Bethlehem of today. Featuring refreshments, fellowship and sales of handmade crafts from Palestinian artisans. A free-will offering will be collected to support Bright Stars of Bethlehem and the ministries associated with Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, Palestine.

Offerings will be directed for student scholarships to build hope through education for young people in this conflicted region. Your presence and gifts will make a difference for many in the Holy Land.

Parking available in church lots as well as in UW Lot 17 and UW Engineering Building. For directions to these alternate parking lots, see firstcongmadison.org.