Israel-Palestine resolutions spark impassioned testimony under expedited process for review

By David Paulsen
Posted Jul 6, 2018
Tarek Abuata

Tarek Abuata of the pro-Palestinian Friends of Sabeel North America testifies July 6 at a hearing on General Convention resolutions related to Israel and Palestine. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] Dozens of people representing a broad range of interreligious voices testified July 6 at a joint hearing on resolutions related to Episcopal Church policy toward Israel and Palestine, a contentious issue at past General Conventions that this year was discussed openly and, for the most part, cordially.

Full ENS coverage of the 79th meeting of General Convention is available here.

Some read their prepared statements by scrolling on their smartphones or shuffling through notes on paper. Others gave testimony from memory or off the cuff, and many of the nearly 50 people who addressed the committees shared grim examples of life and death in the region, from Gaza to the West Bank.

“I’ve heard stories of hope and stories of pain, from both Israelis and Palestinians. We need to listen to both,” said retired Bishop Ed Little, previously of the Diocese of Northern Indiana, who spoke from his experiences during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

The Social Justice and International Policy Committee and the Stewardship and Socially Responsible Investing Committee of the 79th General Convention met jointly with the goal of getting the resolutions to the House of Deputies by July 8, part of an expedited process outlined by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, House of Deputies president.

That process was recommended by a task force formed by Curry and Jennings after the 2015 General Convention to look at ways to ensure a full, open and productive debate on such thorny issues as whether to divest church funds from companies that profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

So far, the reaction to those procedural changes has been positive, and the openness of the debate was readily evident to the more than 100 people who attended the 2 1/2-hour hearing in a ballroom at the JW Marriott hotel just west of the Austin Convention Center.

Several pro-Palestinian organizations mobilized individual representatives and groups of people to testify, helping to tilt the balance of views in favor of approving resolutions calling for a tougher stance against Israel and greater promotion of peace. A small but forceful minority spoke in defense of Israel – or to assert that this decades-old conflict defies easy assignment of blame.

“It’s a family fight, and like a family fight, there are two sides,” Katy Dickinson, a deputy from the Diocese of El Camino Real in California, said in her testimony supporting Resolution D027, seeking justice in Gaza. “It’s mostly Israel’s problem,” she said, but Hamas also is firing missiles and needs to be part of the solution.

But if this conflict is a family fight, Tarek Abuata, a Palestinian Christian from Houston, sought to undercut the analogy with a variation of his own.

“It is not a fight. It is not a family fight when my father has been abusing my mother and raping her for 70 years,” Abuata testified. He is executive director of Friends of Sabeel North America, a Christian group that supports the Palestinian cause and that was represented at the hearing by several members.

The two committees have been assigned 15 total resolutions on issues related to Middle East peace, including the civil rights of Palestinian children, the status of Jerusalem, support of Palestinian-owned businesses and preservation of the right to boycott as a form of protest against the occupation.

The various resolutions often generated passionate testimony from deputies and other Episcopalians, as well as members of the Lutheran, Presbyterian, Jewish, Muslim, Mennonite and Quaker faiths.

They spoke of Palestinians’ homes being bulldozed, of Palestinian children being ripped from their families and jailed, of the “racist extremism” that had turned Palestinians into second-class citizens in their own homeland. Their testimony described the Palestinian territories, particularly Gaza, as a “nightmare,” “concentration camp,” “prison camp” and the equivalent of the Jim Crow era of segregation in the United States or the former system of apartheid in South Africa.

Israel Palestine hearing

More than 100 people attended the joint hearing of the Social Justice and International Policy Committee and the Socially Responsible Investing Committee on July 6, and nearly 50 people testified. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

Comparisons to apartheid was underscored, though not explicitly, by a joint statement issued July 3 by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Anglican leader who was a pivotal figure in the fight to end apartheid, with former House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson and Patti Browning, widow of former Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning.

“We recognize that as the convention considers these resolutions, we must continue the journey of reconciliation with our Jewish sisters and brothers for the centuries of oppressive and anti-Semitic behavior which culminated in our complicity in the Holocaust,” the letter says. “At the same time, we must not let those horrific injustices blind us to the injustices perpetrated on the Palestinian people.”

The letter goes on to single out the “cruel and illegal Israeli-led siege” of Gaza and says the Episcopal Church will be complicit in the occupation as long as its investments are tied to infrastructure work there.

The issue of divestment generated the most divergent opinions at the hearing, from agreement that the church must end its complicity in an oppressive system to opposition from those who side more with Israel as well as from those who worry that divestment might inadvertently cause more harm than good for the Palestinian cause.

The Rev. Jason Poling, vicar of St. Hilda’s Episcopal Church in Maryland, said much of the prevailing rhetoric gives the impression of Israel as a unilaterally vicious occupying power, ignoring Palestinian extremism that has included rocket fire, suicide bombings and kidnappings while serving as a roadblock to progress on peace negotiations.

“Our Israeli friends have a reason to be defensive, because they have a lot to defend against,” Poling told the committee as he testified against Resolution C017.

Alma Bell, a deputy from Maryland, also opposed divestment because it could lessen the Episcopal Church’s economic leverage in the region and might jeopardize the work of the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem under Archbishop Suheil Dawani, who is in Austin this week but did not attend the hearing.

Resolution B016 would model the Episcopal Church’s investment policy after one adopted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, which created something called a human rights screen for Israeli and Palestinian investments.

“There are many Lutherans who are thrilled today that our closest communion partner has chosen to take up this same resolution,” said Dale Loepp, a Lutheran who worked on the ELCA measure.

Another resolution, B019, would call for the church to pursue investments that support “a sound economy and a sustainable infrastructure in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” but even that measure drew a mix of praise, reservations and opposition, particularly from those who don’t see such investments as helping to end the occupation.

“Palestinians don’t need pity. Palestinians need solidarity,” said Kareem El-Hosseiny of American Muslims for Palestine.

And the Rev. Gary Commins, priest-in-charge at Episcopal Church of the Incarnation in Jersey City, New Jersey, cast doubt on whether reconciliation is possible with such an imbalance of power between the Israelis and Palestinians. He urged the committees not to support Resolution B018 for that reason.

“There’s almost nothing in the resolution that hasn’t been said in previous conventions,” Commins testified. “This resolution is just something to make us feel better. … It is an opioid.”

Later in the day, the Social Justice and International Policy Committee met and voted to discharge B018, essentially agreeing that it covered ground already trod by previous General Conventions. The committee also combined two resolutions on treatment of Palestinian children and two resolutions on the status of Jerusalem before voting to send them to the full House of Deputies. The committee ended the night by recommending the rest of its resolutions to the House as well. The status of the investment-related resolutions assigned to the second committee wasn’t immediately available.

At the morning hearing, everyone who wanted to testify was given that opportunity, though committee chairs asked them to keep their remarks to two minutes or less.

People who have followed these issues over multiple General Conventions said the openness was a welcome change, in contrast to what they felt were more strict limitations on discussion in the past.

Another key change is that the House of Deputies was chosen as the house of initial action for all resolutions on Israel and Palestine. At General Convention in 2015, a resolution calling on the church to divest from companies engaged in certain business with Israel failed in a vote of the House of Bishops, which meant it never made it to the House of Deputies for consideration.

The House of Deputies and House of Bishops are expected to take up the resolutions through a “special order of business,” which gives the resolutions greater weight and ensures debate isn’t sidelined by procedural barriers. The special order in the House of Deputies is scheduled for the afternoon of July 8.

“There seems to be a process this time that allows for discussion and debate,” the Very Rev. Will Mebane of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Buffalo, New York, told Episcopal News Service during a short break in the hearing on July 6. “There was a recognition at the highest levels of the church that 2015 didn’t work.”

Mebane said he traveled to the Holy Land several years ago, and the experience affected him deeply. The difference between life on the Israeli side and the Palestinian side is like day and night.

“Not one person in this room would tolerate for one day the conditions that exist in Israel and the occupied territories of Palestine,” Mebane told the committees while speaking in favor of Resolution D041, one of the resolutions about protecting Jerusalem as the holy city of the three Abrahamic faiths.

Hallanan testifies

The Rev. Sunny Hallanan, a deputy from the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, testifies in favor of Resolution D041.

The Rev. Sunny Hallanan, a deputy from the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, also spoke in favor of D041, saying people in Europe are puzzled by the U.S. policy toward Jerusalem.

“Why are we turning from the values we have stood for?” Hallanan said, her voice wavering for a moment. “We, the church, must take a faithful, prophetic stand.”

Some of the most poignant testimony addressed the plight of Palestinian children, as addressed by Resolution C035 and Resolution C038. Several witnesses told stories of children being taken from their families and detained for long periods of time, often suspected only of throwing rocks.

“I know you share my moral outrage,” Jennifer Bing of the American Friends Service Committee said. “You know that military detention is no way to treat a child.”

Haithem El-Zabri, a Muslim and member of the Austin’s Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights, shared a personal story – of his Palestinian parents, who became refugees in the United States when Israel occupied their hometown during in the 1967 Mideast war. El-Zabri said he and millions of others in the Palestinian diaspora are demanding the right to return to their homes.

“All we are asking for is our right to live in peace and dignity in our homeland in equality with all who inhabit it,” El-Zabri said in voicing support for Resolution D018, recognizing both Israelis’ and Palestinians’ rights to self-determination.

Closing prayer

Former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori leads a closing prayer at the end of the hearing on Israel-Palestine resolutions.

When the testimony was over, the committee chairs asked former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, a member of the international policy committee, to lead a closing prayer.

“Open our ears,” she prayed, “that we may hear the suffering of our brothers and sisters in the land of the holy one, that we may respond with your justice, your compassion, and we pray that we may be willing to enter sacrificially into the lives of all your people.

“May we be people of justice, of shalom, of salam. May we help to repair the breach in our own hearts, in our world, among all your people. In the name of the God of Abraham, we pray. Amen.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.


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Comments (45)

  1. The Rev. Dr. James Hargos says:

    Don’t favor any of these resolutions. They won’t make a real difference. Solutions to this centuries old problem is way beyond our pay grade. Plenty of blame to go around. However, to my knowldege, only Palestinians harbor and foment terrorists. Israel is our friend and only democracy in the Middle East.

    1. To say that only Palestinians harbor and foment terrorists and to state that this is a centuries old conflict is grossly misinformed. The Lehi, Irgun and Stern Gang all Israeli terrorist organizations that operated before the founding of modern Israel. Theodor Herzl and his ideas of Zionism began in the late 19th century and are a part of the roots of our modern conflict. And if you want more recent history you can look to the massacre at the Ibrahimi mosque massacre at the hands of Baruch Goldstein, who is heralded in some Israeli Jewish groups as a national hero. Or we can look to Yigal Amir, another Israeili Jew who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin. All this not to say that there are not Palestinian terrorists–there are. But to paint this as a conflict that is the fault of one side over the other looks not to find a solution but to claim a winner.

  2. Jerry Williams says:

    When the government next door and their Iranian backers want your country removed and your people extinct, and they broadcast it on their television and to the world, why wouldn’t you believe them ? When the Iranians state that they are willing to sacrifice their existence to erase Israel, why don’t people understand that they mean it ? I don’t believe that the anti-Israel members here are ignorant of the facts. I think that they know full well the facts.

  3. Marie T France says:

    Thanks for the excellent reporting. The misconception by the earlier commenter that Palestinians are not the victims of grave injustice by Israel is faulty indeed.

    1. Judy Van Horn Neunuebel says:

      It’s shocking that so many Episcopalians are so out of touch with this situation. At least it’s finally being addressed by several who truly understand the terror and brutality that Palestinians have been subjected to for over 70 years under Israel’s illegal, eregious occupation. Our Presbyterian brothers and sisters are far ahead of us on dealing with this horrendous injustice. Thank you to all those willing to speak up for equality and justice.

  4. Tobias Hamberger, Augsburg, Germany says:

    Although the image of a “family fight” may trivialize the Israel-Palestine-conflict a bit,
    [in fact, a fight is a fight – the image is not so wrong…],
    the opposite image comparing Israel and Palestine with “[a] father abusing [a] mother and raping her for 70 years”, is a bold and inaccurate exaggeration, as it ignores the
    continuous series of hijackings, suicide attacks, terror tunnels, and the
    demand to extinguish the Jews from the Holy Land from the other side.
    Yes, Israel as the stronger part of the conflict can be critisized stronger as it has
    more responsibility. But only critisizing Israel in D027 and not mentioning Palaesinians’
    responsibility at all is unbalanced!
    [e.g. in the current Gaza unrest, if find very problematic the method of the burning kites,
    which is literally a “scorched-earth-policy” with deep negative ecological impact and therefore
    finally damaging ALL inhabitants of the Holy Land.
    Wouldn’t that be worth a point of action from the Environmental Stewardship comitee?]

    1. Steve Price says:

      I think you might want to reread the Balfour Declaration.Even without the West Bank and Gaza ,Israel has seized through war huge chunks of land that were designated in 1948 to be part of the Palestinian state.And ,yes ,there are plenty of Palestinians,(many of them Anglican Christians) who are the direct descendants of people who have lived there since Biblical times.Some of them even have Jewish bloodlines ,but aren’t ” pure”

      1. Mike Sigler says:

        And who started those wars Steve? Wait for it… wait for it.

        1. StevePrice says:

          That’s too complicated to be answered in this type discussion but I’ll try a synopsis.Tensions between Palestinians and Jew’s began escalating with the excelleration of the Zionist movement during the Nazi years.The influx of Jewish immigrants contributed to the development of Jewish enclaves within Palestinian areas.The serious escalation in violence occurred when the Jewish underground militia group Urgun ,headed by Menachim Begin, conducted a terrorist attack on the King David hotel in the summer of 1944 ,killing 90 and earning Begin the title of the Father of modern terrorism.By the fall of 1947 civil war had broken out between the Jewish conclaves and the Palestinians.In the spring of 1948 the well armed Jewish militias began driving the Palestinians from their homes and villages. and burning them to the ground.This led to intervention by countries allied with Egypt and the Arab -Israeli war was underway..There’s lots more to it than that but that’s a start.

          1. Tobias Hamberger, Germany says:

            Again, this explanation completely ignores the other side of the story:
            The immigration of Jews already began in the 19. ccentury.
            The conflict was massively sparkeld (before and after 1984) by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, who collaborated massively with the German Nazis. He one had a personal date with Adolf Hitler, buidt up some SS-divisions and spread the message of hatred throughout Palestine. [Even more, he once prevented a liberation of 5000 Jewish children in Bulgaria on exchange for some POWs] After 1948, he was then the leader of the “Palestine cause” until the PLO won importance.
            It it to be discussed, how much of the hate/antisemitis in that region was an imported antisemitism [shame on my Germany], but when we act for the “Paletinian cause” we have to look carefully, who our partners are. Hamas is definitely no serious partner for us, and it would be good for our church to set/declare a distance to them!

          2. Tobias Hamberger, Germany says:

            sorry, I meant 1948, of course 🙂 [read too much Orwell]

    2. Tobias Hamberger, Germany says:

      Nice! Looking through the virtual binder, I have seen that resolution D027 has been edited and is not so one-sided anymore. Thanks to all people who invest their brains in this matter.
      Although I disagree with some (or many?) in the opinion on this topic, I believe that most participants in this debate take this matter serious through their faith’s eye (at least, this was the atmosphere, this well-written article reflected about this hearing)

  5. Jerry Emerson says:

    Did the committees review all the comments posted several months ago when this subject was addressed? There are historically no Palestinians, only peoples living in the Levant. The Romans called the area Palestine when they took over the land from all the peoples (Jews and Arabs). Again the Jews have turned the desert into a garden for fruits and vegetables, while the Arabs destroy the gardens with rocket craters. Have we forgotten that the Jews in order to foster peace turned lands (Gaza, the West Bank and more) back to the Arabs? Lands originally granted to the Jews under the Balfour Declaration. And the wars – all started by the Arabs but finished by the Jews, yet Israel still granted lands back. This discussion in the Church and at the convention appears to me to be very one sided, and the wrong side, given our Christian heritage.

    1. Marie France says:

      Thank you, Mr. Paulson, for the excellent reporting. Both of the comments made thus far reflect the enormous success of propaganda, which continues to hide the enormous injustice that has been imposed on the people living in the place where the new nation of Israel was imposed in 1948. Why should Palestinians have to pay for the Holocaust? That is what they have been made to do, and they are paying dearly. Willful blindness to the fact will not change it.

      1. Jerry Williams says:

        The numbers of rockets, murders, and bounties paid for Jewish deaths isn’t propaganda. It would appear that the intention is to finish what was begun with the Holocaust. This is openly stated by Hamas. This divestment issue is a train that has left the station. The Palestinians have become a prop for anti-Israel forces who would rather have an “issue” than solve a problem for a desperate population. The “death to Israel” propaganda seems to be working in some quarters. “Willful blindness” ? I’m old enough to remember a cartoon caption, “I have met the enemy and he is us.”

  6. Tura Campanella Cook says:

    I was there and want to thank David Paulsen for fair and accurate reporting. In addition, I wish to increase awareness for all of us in how we label Palestinians, often subconsciously. Note the caption of the first photo that refers to Friends of Sabeel North America as a “pro-Palestinian group”. Think about it: would we label the American Friends Service Committee as a pro-Quaker group? Why not? Let’s be careful about putting “pro-Palestinian” labels on things that would not be pro-another group in similar circumstances. Also, the text describes Friends of Sabeel North America as “a Christian group that supports the Palestinian cause.” To be precise, FOSNA is a “Christian ecumenical organization seeking justice and peace in the Holy Land through nonviolent advocacy and education. Sabeel is an international peace movement initiated by Palestinian Christians, who seek a just peace as defined by international law and existing United Nations resolutions.” I would categorize FOSNA as pro-peace, rather than pro-Palestinian. Canadian and US Christians who also want peace in the Holy Land established FOSNA. Jews and Muslims recognize and appreciate FOSNA for being one of many voices for peace.

    1. Mike Sigler says:

      Yes no idea why he would have done that

      ““It is not a fight. It is not a family fight when my father has been abusing my mother and raping her for 70 years,” Abuata testified. He is executive director of Friends of Sabeel North America, a Christian group that supports the Palestinian cause and that was represented at the hearing by several members.”

  7. Anthony C Thurston says:

    I’m disappointed in remarks that make Israel seem like an innocent bystander in this issue. Palestinians have had their land taken away and are treated like criminals. The response is obvious–and our response would be similar. The Israelies are abusive. The oppressed have become the oppressors.

  8. Stewart David Wigdor says:

    In the movie The Ten Commandments there is a scene where Moses now banished from Egypt to die in the desert meets a man, a non-Jew, who tells him about the God who has no Name even pointing to the Mountain where Moses has his Divine Revelation. I always thought this was interesting. An Arab follower of Abraham’s son Ishmael directs the heart and spirit of Moses to his God. Moses also becomes a shepherd and marries one of his daughters. True or not it states a Truth. Scripture reveals the Gospel where Jesus calls God the God of Isreal. He is defined as the Living God; and our Heavenly Father. The gist is: if you love God, your God with all your heart; you will receive what you desire not just your ideal but God’s Perfection; beginning with Peace.

  9. mike geibel says:

    The following acts of murder and terrorism by radical Palestinians are not to be heard from the voices who condemn Israel:
    • Kiryat Shmona massacre: April 11, 1974 –18 killed, 8 victims were children; 15 injured.
    • Ma’alot massacre: May 14, 1974–29 killed, 68 injured; mostly children.
    • Coastal Road massacre: March 11, 1978–38 people were killed on a bus, including 13 children. Other people were killed nearby. 71 were wounded.
    • Dizengoff Street bus bombing: October 19 1994–22 people and 50 injured.
    • Beit Lid massacre: January 22, 1995–23 killed, including 2 perpetrators; 69 were injured.
    • Island of Peace massacre: March 13, 1997–Jordanian Army Corporal opened fire on a large group of Israeli schoolgirls–19 were killed.
    • Sbarro restaurant massacre: August 9, 2001—Jerusalem, 15 killed and 130; 7 victims were children.
    • Dolphinarium discotheque massacre: June 1, 2001–Tel Aviv, 21 killed and more than 100 wounded.
    • Bat Mitzvah massacre: 18 January 2002—Hadera,7 killed and 33 wounded.
    • Yeshivat Beit Yisrael massacre: March 2, 2002–Beit Yisrael, Jerusalem–11 killed, including 7 children, 2 of whom were infants
    • Passover massacre: March 27, 2001–30 killed and 140 are injured.
    • Tel-Aviv central bus station massacre: January 5, 2003—Tel Aviv–23 killed and over 100 injured.
    • Mercaz HaRav massacre: March 6, 2008—Jerusalem, 8 killed at a school; 7 were students.
    • 2014 Jerusalem synagogue massacre: Jerusalem–4 Rabbis and a police officer killed.
    • June 2016 Tel Aviv shooting: June 8, 2016—4 civilians killed.

    And let us also not forget that in 1968, Palestinian Arab Christian Sirhan Sirhan assassinated (murdered) presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy. Robert Kennedy’s crime? He had supported the sale of bombers to Israel to aid in its defense against the Arab states.

    1. Jerry Williams says:

      1972 Olympics, 11 Israelis murdered by Palestinian Black September. The availability of news supersedes propaganda.

      1. Elizabeth Sternberg says:

        This report seems to indicate to me there was absolutely no defense of Israel, no presentation of this country’s point of view, yet tons of anti-Israel propaganda. Congratulations, Episcopalians, for being led down the path of anti-Semitism, treating the Jewish state of Israel differently than others.

        1. Craig F. Smith says:

          Criticism based on facts is not anti-Semitism. Throwing labels at factual truths distracts from the issues. Acknowledgment of violations is critical for justice to be served.

      2. Tura Campanella Cook says:

        To accusations that the testimony was anti-semitic, the Israeli and American Jews who testified in support of resolutions did so because Judaism, like Christianity and Islam, recognizes the right of all people to dignity and justice. Are we anti-American to protest the treatment of immigrant children arriving in the US? No, we disapprove of a particular policy. No different in the case of these resolutions: we disagree with Israeli government policies of occupation and apartheid.
        A statement of support from the Rabbinical Council of Jewish Voice for Peace to this convention states
        “We are proud to support these resolutions, which recognize the preciousness of human life and human rights. We see this call to human rights advocacy reflected in the Jewish teaching that all people are created in the image of God, and that we are commanded to love our neighbor, and the stranger, as we love ourselves. We have seen with our own eyes the brutality of occupation, the daily violations of Palestinians’ most basic human rights, and the violence that accrues to all people in the region. We believe in the inherent dignity of both Israelis and Palestinians. Some will try to paint this issue as one of whether or not you support the Jewish community, and therefore Israeli policy, but this argument unfairly flattens Jewish identity and community. There are many different opinions among Jews about the best solutions to the conflict. This is a critical debate within the Jewish community, but a growing movement of US and international Jews see non-violent economic pressure on the state of Israel as an important instrument of justice.”

  10. John Heermans says:

    Yes, many of the comments reflect the unsurprising success of the Israel propaganda machine and the complicit American media. “Again the Jews have turned the desert into a garden for fruits and vegetables, while the Arabs destroy the gardens with rocket craters.” Gaza was not leveled by rockets but by a massive irresponsible bombing that targeted mosques, schools and homes. Even if you want to deny the enormous suffering and human rights abuses inflicted on the Palestinians in this “family feud” (give me a break), our “Christian heritage” asks us to respect the law. The Israel Occupation of the West Bank as well as the blockade of Gaza are illegal under international law.

  11. Carole Reed says:

    John Heermans comments are accurate. The Palestinians have been victimized by displacement and theft of land and property. The pro-Israel propaganda machine has been spewing lies and misleading opinion for decades. Nothing new there. I wish to make no further comments on this issue.

  12. Jerry Williams says:

    “The pro-Israel propaganda machine has been spewing lies and misleading opinion for decades.” The above list of murder is propaganda ?

    1. John Heermans says:

      Jerry, no one is disputing those numbers or the fact that violent acts of terrorism have been committed on both sides. I am an advocate of non violence and condemn the indiscriminate killing of innocent people on both sides. But it’s a question of scale. If we want to cite numbers, according to the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the occupied territories:
      > Since 2000, 9305 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis versus 1,220 Israelis killed by Palestinians (51% of Israelis killed were soldiers or on occupied Palestinians land versus 99% of Palestinians killed were on Palestinian land)
      > 2,089 or 22% of the Palestinians killed by Israelis have been children versus 133 (11%) by Palestinians
      > 95,299 Palestinians have been injured versus 11,895 Israelis
      > 48,488 Palestinian homes have been demolished versus zero Israeli homes
      > 261 illegal jewish settlments built on Palestinian land
      Quote from Prime Minister Menachim Begin following the first massacre of 100 men, women and children at Deir Yassin in 1948: “As in Deir Yassin, so everywhere, we will attack and smite the enemy. God, Good, Thous has chosen us for conquest.” Zionist forces committed 33 massacres altogether.

      1. Douglas Crellin says:

        What is the source of your stats?

  13. M. J. Wise says:

    The Episcopal Church has little skin in this eternal feud and so our resolutions, proclamations and political positioning are just obvious self-important moral preening we would be best to avoid to the appearance of.

    1. John Heermans says:

      Tell that to Desmond Tutu

      1. M. J. Wise says:

        ??? Desmond Tutu is not part of TEC, so I’m not sure how to interpret your comment.

  14. Cecilia Polansky says:

    Mr Williams cites 149 Israeli deaths from the “other side” before year 2000, and —124 — since 2000. But many people are documenting actual numbers to show the misreporting and the disproportionate retaliation. Below is not propaganda, but FACT; one example.

    See charts for both sides at https://israelpalestinetimeline.org/charts/.
    You see — 9,600 Palestinians killed by the “other side” — just since year 2000, of whom 2,079 were children as of 2014.
    You see — 1,251 Israelis killed by the “other side” — since year 2000, of whom 133 were children as of 2014.
    To “throw in” a parallel comment about the one who shot RFK – note the reasons, again. How would YOU react if someone kicked you out of your grandparents’ home and bulldozed your olive orchard without cause??
    [Brittanica] Sirhan, a Christian… was born in Jerusalem. In 1948 Jordan took control of East Jerusalem…now the West Bank … granted citizenship to people living in those areas. It is believed that this is how Sirhan became a Jordanian citizen. In the 1950s, he and his family moved to the US… Sirhan became vocal in his opposition to Israel, especially after the Six-Day War (June 1967)… Sirhan began directing his anger at…Kennedy, who expressed support for Israel while campaigning…
    [haaretz.com] …Sirhan, a Palestinian Christian, was born in 1944 in Jerusalem’s Musrara neighborhood…His mother, Mary Sirhan, told The Washington Post in 1979 how her son was scarred by the horrific scenes of fighting he witnessed in and around the Old City.

  15. Cecilia Polansky says:

    Excuse me, it was Mr Geibel who cited the statistics; Mr Williams added on 11 more deaths. My apologies.

  16. Jerry Williams says:

    Israel responds when attacked. Stop the attacks. Are we seeking parity in deaths ? Would it be OK if an equal number of Israelis were dead. Hamas is trying their best with the help of Iran. Anti-Israel is a losing position for many reasons other than it helps complete the Holocaust. One final thought. While promoting the divestiture in Israel, it could trigger divestiture in our church.

    1. John Heermans says:

      Jerry, You’ve swallowed the Israel/AIPAC narrative whole. Right, we hear it over and over: “Israel has the right to defend itself.” Have you ever heard once from a politician or the episcopal church that: “Palestinians have a right to defend themselves.” Palestinians are “fighting” to reclaim homes and land that was taken from them illegally. Zionists are fighting to hold on to land that they stole. If standing up for the rights of people who are at the bottom results in divesture in the church so be it. Those who remain will be doing the work that we were set out to do. Fortunately, the presiding bishop is finally taking a stand and saying that we can’t leave this work to the Lutherans, Quakers, Mennonites, Methodists and Presbyterians and others. We need to unite and join the rest of the world to find a peaceful solution.

      1. Jerry Williams says:

        Go to it. You’ll fight this fight from your armchair right down til the last Palestinian. Remember, the Jews have nowhere else to go. They are marked for extinction by their neighbors. If you want peace, stop attacking. For you, it’s a moral position. For Jews, it’s life itself. It’s that simple.

      2. Marie France says:

        In response to John Heermans:
        Amen!

  17. Caroline Lucic says:

    My Episcopal church sells olive oil from Palestinian farmers. It is truly a gift to have the opportunity to do this and help the Palestinian farmers at the same time. We have been selling for over 3 years and because of this were able to contribute $3,000.00 to the Ahli Hospital in Gaza where so many Palestinian folk are treated. They need help, they need us, and they need our love and support.

  18. mike geibel says:

    In the First Intifada, a total of 160 Israelis and 2,162 Palestinians were killed, including 1,000 Palestinians killed by other Palestinians under the accusation of being collaborators. In the Second Intifada (2000–2005), it is estimated that 1,137 Israelis were killed by Palestinians.
    There are atrocities on both sides. The myth that Jews “stole” has its genesis in the Hollywood Movie “Exodus” when in truth, most Jewish immigrants came from Russia and other eastern block countries long before WWII and the Holocaust.

    As the comments show, condemnation of Israel is a deeply divisive issue within the Church. If the Church engages in economic warfare against Israel, then it will have taken sides in a bloody civil war that is fueled by religious and racial hatred; the conflict is not a family feud. The BDS movement (boycott, divest and sanction) is, has been and always will be a failure because it it ignores the truth that Israelis cannot—nothing short of total annihilation of all Jews and the de-legitimization of the sovereign country of Israel will satisfy the Palestinians, Hamas and the BDS supporters. 

    A boycott resolution makes the TEC a gnat on the horn of the bull described in an Aesop Fable, self-consumed with the righteousness of its feel-good resolutions and blind to the fact that the only impact its resolution can have will be a continuing exodus from the pews of the Episcopal Church.

    1. Cecilia Polansky says:

      Mr Geibel, the stealing in question refers to lands taken since 1967, not the epoch of Exodus. We are saying that the victims have become perpetrators.
      (1) https://interactive.aljazeera.com/aje/2017/50-years-illegal-settlements/index.html
      600,000 – 750,000 Illegal settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories
      150 Settlements, 119 Outposts
      42% of West Bank land controlled by settlements
      86% of East Jerusalem for Israeli state and settler use
      (2) https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160804-how-much-palestinian-land-do-israeli-settlements-really-eat-up/
      (3) —and the map since 1948 is even more shocking:
      http://mondoweiss.net/2015/10/check-msnbcs-palestinian/
      =Fact Check: MSNBC’s Palestinian loss of land map

      1. mike geibel says:

        The 1967 War was triggered when Syria, Jordan and Egypt amassed overwhelming numbers of tanks, soldiers and aircraft on Israel’s border, and Israel mounted a preemptive strike which decapitated the Arab armies. Armistice with Egypt was reached with Israel agreeing to return the Sinai to Egypt.

        During the 19 years when King Hussein of Jordan had ruled east Jerusalem, not one Jew was even allowed to visit, much less pray at, the Western Wall. The Jordanians razed synagogues in east Jerusalem, vandalized Jewish cemeteries, and used the gravestones as construction material. The Israelis took control of the Temple Mount and the Al-Aqsa Mosque a result of the 1967 war, but Israel agreed to Jordan’s demands that only Muslims are allowed to enter the Mosque. Protection for the site, including restricted entry to visitors and worshippers, rests with Israeli Security Forces, and the Mosque is governed by the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf.

        In September 2015 false rumors spread that the Israelis planned to change the status of the Mosque, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas incited the “stabbing intifada,” where innocent civilians were stabbed in the streets, by stating on Palestinian television: “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem” and, as to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jews “have no right to dirty it with their filthy feet.”

        Rather than negotiate peace, the Palestinians have continued to insist on what Israelis will never agree to—the removal of all Jews from the entire City and the annihilation or enslavement of all Jews, all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. There is nothing to negotiate.

  19. Douglas Crellin says:

    Not one mention of blame for Hamas or the PLO? Talk about a one sided view. I am so done with this church and its’ hypocritical stances on SJW junk. I will be leaving a church i have been part of for 50 yrs.

    1. william dailey says:

      A persons spiritual life and well being along with an understanding of christian values have, in reality, nothing to do with Church membership. God speed Douglas!

      1. william dailey says:

        Just read where 238 Christians were killed by Muslims in Nigeria last week. The Muslims have killed 6000 Christians in Nigeria since the beginning of 2018. If the intent of the Church is to support the Muslim destruction of Israel before being concerned with the genocide of black Christians in Africa it won’t succeed. The sooner the Church accepts that while its position may be supported by a majority of Democrats it is wrong and should be reversed immediately.

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