Bishops reject Israel-Palestine resolution blasted as ‘divestment’ despite deputies’ approval

By David Paulsen
Posted Jul 11, 2018
Bishops vote on Israel-Palestine

Bishops raise their hands to oppose Resolution D019, which sought to end the church’s financial complicity in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. The resolution failed, 48-78. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] The House of Bishops, by a large majority, voted down a measure overwhelmingly favored by the House of Deputies that would have sought to end the church’s financial complicity in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, putting to rest for at least another three years one of the church’s most divisive issues.

Other resolutions relating to Israel and Palestine are still in play at the 79th General Convention and may still win passage. Northern California Bishop Barry Beisner, chair of the Social Justice and International Policy Committee, told Episcopal News Service after the bishops’ July 11 vote against Resolution D019 that the remaining resolutions, though perhaps “no less emotional,” are not quite as “complicated.”

Bishops and deputies on both sides of the issue spoke strongly about Resolution D019 this week, but the votes of the two houses ended with opposite results. The deputies approved the resolution with 74 percent in favor, while the bishops’ vote was 48-78, or 62 percent against the resolution.

Resolution D019 would have asked Executive Council, based on 70 years of church policy toward the Middle East conflict, to research and develop a plan by 2019 for a “human rights investment screen,” which critics described as a dangerous divestment from Israel.

“Divestment will not move us one inch forward in the peace process. It will not bring an end to the occupation. It will not lead us to the solution that we all yearn for, which is two states living side by side in peace within secure borders,” said retired Bishop Ed Little of the Diocese of Northern Indiana, who was one of six bishops to speak against the resolution before the vote.

The resolution’s defeat served as a sudden punctuation to a week of open and often passionate debate on a range of issues related to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. General Convention is considering how the Episcopal Church should respond to what many see as an escalating humanitarian crisis in the region.

Nearly 50 people testified at a committee hearing on those issues held July 6 in the JW Marriott, part of an expedited process recommended by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, House of Deputies president. Their recommendations, including the designation of the House of Deputies as the house of initial action, were intended to ensure full, open and productive discussions after complaints about the process for considering Israel-Palestine resolutions at the 2015 General Convention, when the bishops’ vote against a similar measure meant it never got to the deputies for consideration.

General Convention has voted in support of Middle East peace for decades. This year, the international policy committee submitted D019 for a special order of business in the House of Deputies, recognizing it as the most controversial of more than a dozen related resolutions, including some assigned to the Stewardship & Socially Responsible Investing Committee. The special order meant that discussion on the floor July 9 could not be sidelined by procedural hurdles.

“Let this be finally the convention where we say we will no longer allow our financial resources to enable this brutal occupation,” said Brian Grieves, the resolution’s proposer and a deputy from Hawaii, before the deputies voted, 619-214, to send D019 to the bishops.

But the contrast in tone two days later was evident immediately in the House of Bishops.

Little warned that divestment would do “irreparable damage” to the church’s relations with Israel. Bishop J. Scott Barker of Nebraska acknowledged “the unendurable weight shouldered by the Palestinians who live under Israeli occupation” but also warned of persistent, if not widespread, claims in the occupied territories that Israel has no right to exist.

“I would be all for proactive investment in the Palestinian territories … but actions to boycott, divest from or sanction Israel alone as the antagonist in this story no longer makes sense to me,” Barker said. “That for me is an oversimplification of a complex reality.”

Los Angeles Bishop John Taylor joined them in opposing the resolution, saying although the Israeli occupation “is impossible to defend,” the two alternatives, annexation or withdrawal, would be “catastrophic.”

“Better to step up our constructive engagement throughout the region, doing everything we can as a church to build up economic, social and political infrastructure in Palestine for the sake of the Palestinian people,” Taylor said.

Several bishops spoke in favor of the resolution, including Bishop Marc Andrus of the Diocese of California. He said many of the arguments against divestment “are based on a false equivalency.”

“All human lives are infinitely precious,” Andrus said, and too many lives have been lost on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But he said there is no denying the decades-old conflict’s deadly toll has disproportionately affected Palestinians, by a factor of three to one. He called passage of tougher measures “a long time coming.”

Bishop Suffragan Gayle Harris of Massachusetts and Newark Bishop Mark Beckwith spoke in favor of the resolution, focusing on the Episcopal Church’s investments in companies that support or provide infrastructure assistance for the occupation, such as construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar and telecommunications company Motorola. Both companies already are targets of shareholder advocacy by the church’s Executive Council.

Resolution D019 “calls us, as I read it, to investigate who is profiting from the tragedy in the Middle East,” Beckwith said.

“It directs us to look at how we are participating, both silently and financially, into a system that degrades people,” Harris said. “This is our act, our conscience, our sense of justice. … Our sense of who we are as a people of Christ is tied with this resolution.”

But South Dakota Bishop John Tarrant, in opposing the resolution, took issue with the process, which he still found lacking.

“It must have been a dream, but I thought I’d read somewhere that we were going to have open conversation about this very complex issue, with people speaking from both sides that were knowledgeable,” Tarrant said. “I think that this complex issue needs a greater forum than a quick legislative session.”

During a break in the legislative session after the vote, Beisner told ENS he thought those who described the resolution derisively as “BDS,” or boycott, divest and sanction, “were getting ahead of things.”

“I certainly agree that it deserves a more spacious and careful consideration than our cramped legislative process allows,” Beisner said. “Of course, one of the hopes was that Executive Council would be the place where that might happen. That was the point of D019.”

The other resolutions making their way through the House of Deputies relate to treatment of Palestinian children, Israel’s use of lethal force against unarmed Palestinians, the system of apartheid between Israelis and Palestinians, Israeli laws that deprive Palestinians of civil rights, and the ability of U.S. companies to boycott Israel in protest of its occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Those resolutions were recommended by committee members from both the House of Bishops and House of Deputies, though it remains to be seen which, if any, clear both houses. The deputies could vote later July 11 if the resolutions aren’t delayed by other matters.

– 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 (92)

  1. Rev. Dr. James Hargis says:

    Wow! Am I reading this, right? Can’t believe common sense prevailed!

    1. Frank Harrision says:

      I should say that good sense prevailed. Thank you Bishops.

      1. Steven Denmark says:

        The Bishops’ override appears to reveal they have the sort of conflict of interest Jesus repeatedly saw the Pharisees and Saducees practicing. They mixed up political goals with moral goals. Leverage is not a Christ-like attribute.

        1. Jeanne Maria Todd says:

          I find it amazing that clergy representing “The Christ Spirit” would still allow financial support to the brutally of Israel. If any of you were being treated the way the people of Palestine are being treated; you would look at the compliance of the Non-Action as permission for Israel to continue their rein of terror. But of course, most of you have no idea what it is to be the underdogs; the segment of society that is treated like less than human. Shame on you! You are suppose to be better. You are suppose to represent “The Christ Spirit”, the love for all human beings.

          1. Rev. Dr. James Hargis says:

            U think Palestinians are not brutual?! Look at their support for/garnering terrorists. And they aren’t exactly a democracy. Our Christian roots are in the people of Israel, not Palestine

          2. Kristine Montamat says:

            This morning, as it so happened, I was working on my Will.
            I had thought to leave 10% of my estate to the Episcopal Church.
            But reading the willful ignorance of the bishops– akin to saying “there’s no problem with how we treated the native Americans”– I will make other dispositions.
            There is No Excuse for defending what Israel has done, is doing, and will continue to do.

          3. Matt Ouellette says:

            There are Palestinian Christians as well. Should they not also receive support from the Church?

          4. Chaim Yankel says:

            This is not “even-steven” comparing the brutalities of the combatants. It is asymetric: Israel seized now all of Palestine and dispossessed the people living there, now sequestered onto reservations (West Bank) or an open air concentration camp in Gaza. The brutality of the Jewish state results in enormous numbers of Palestinians deaths including 551 children in August, 2014. More recently, unarmed demonstrators have been murdered by “sharpshooters”, over 100 of them. There is no comparison. There is only the vicious occupation of somebody else’s land and property, all stolen.

          5. Frank Harrison says:

            Many may think that this is irrelevant in the discussion — but go back in history, and then forward, to the history of the Israel nation founded after WWII. It is not a pretty sight. As a matter fact all but devastating in some instances. Those in Israel fight hard against those on the other side of their boarders for their very existence. Is to protect oneself so sinful?

    2. Clifford Johnston says:

      It didn’t.

    3. Haithem El-Zabri says:

      supporting oppression and injustice is common sense?? how sad to hear this from a reverend. in my eyes, you are complicit in israel’s crimes against my people.

      1. Carole Reed says:

        There are many Episcopalians who decry the violence perpetrated by Zionists occupying leadership positions in the government of Israel. We will continue to speak out against their barbaric cruelty and support their victims by acts of generosity and activity on a political level. Please know that we love and support those who are suffering.

    4. Doris Macsherry says:

      Thanks be to God! The Bishops did the right thing!

  2. PJ Cabbiness says:

    Praise the Lord! Thank you House of Bishops for this wise decision. Many, many thanks.

  3. Elizabeth Sternberg says:

    Very grateful wisdom prevailed. Those who rose and spoke against this resolution were eloquent and passionate…and sympathetic to both sides. Especially interesting to hear that, unlike with the South Africa situation, bishops in the region (the Holy Land) have NOT asked for divestment approaches.

  4. Matt Ouellette says:

    I think this was a wise decision (I think BDS goes too far). However, I do think we need to do something to speak out against Israeli settlements in the West Bank. They need to stop occupying land that is not theirs. The Likud government is awful and has done a massive disservice to Israel. Both sides need to come together and work for peace in the region.

    1. Geoffrey Dennis says:

      The PNA government is as awful, or more so, than Israel. Hamas is worse. The PNA has rejected an offer of statehood from Israel for times in past 18 years. When is the church going to give give this issue the nuanced analysis it deserves rather than see it as a black hat-white hat Hollywood melodrama?

      1. Matt Ouellette says:

        Does PNA awfulness justify occupation of the West Bank by the Israeli government? The PNA should recognize Israeli statehood, but Israel needs to stop setting up settlements on land that does not belong to them.

  5. Hoping that reports and discussions at General Convention will provide detail on current Episcopal Development and Relief actions in the occupied territories, and on what parishes and individuals can do to aid Palestinians as well as the peace process. This is the latest report I coud find in a cursory google search: https://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/supporting-episcopal-diocese-jerusalem-s-response-gaza

  6. Julian Borda says:

    We should always pray for peace in the Holy Land. It is heartbreaking to see the pain that is felt by all involved. That said, I have come to the belief that there is no realistic possibility for true, lasting peace right now – not as things stand, not without divine intervention. I believe the best possible outcome that humans alone can achieve is an uneasy truce. Both Israelis and Palestinians must accept that those they consider enemies are not going anywhere – and, taking that as a given, they should consider that the Holy Land and holy sites they cherish are not best served by violence. It’s a nasty divorce, to be sure, but the child’s interest (in this case the land’s interest) should always come first.
    In the meantime, the Church can best serve the people of the Holy Land not by divestment, but by preaching Jesus’ Gospel of love and salvation to all peoples, by word and action, that all may one day know Him.

  7. Marie France says:

    The relief in some of these comments is striking: the fear of Israel on the part of the Episcopalian bishops must be tremendous. It is true that AIPAC and the Hasbra movement are mighty forces to confront. The Palestinians have borne the brunt of Israeli aggression since 1948 with no relief for them in sight.

    1. Jean Denton says:

      This decision makes me weep. We may not be able to create peace in the Holy Land, but we can and should take an active stance against apartheid and rampant racism. Travel permits refused because one is a Palestinian? Embargos that starve the innocent? Lower minimum wage just because one is Palestinian? I don’t know why my church is so willing to talk and so unwilling to act.

      1. Judy Wall says:

        Well said, I totally agree with you.

      2. Diane Triantis says:

        Israel is breaking all sorts of promises, repeatedly violating international laws and committing human rights violations. It’s not all that complicated. They claim to be a democracy when in fact they are not. They can’t be “a Jewish state” AND a democracy. Now they have become an apartheid state. As Christians, as human beings, how can the church support them? BDS does not go to far…it’s long overdue. There comes a time to stand and be counted on the side of righteousness…that time has come and it is now.

    2. Frank Harrision says:

      What evidence makes you talk of the “fear” of the Bishops? It may be their wisdom. In any event, it is the House of Bishops which has spoke and we are bound, as Episcopalians, to that. Do I always agree with the Bishops? Whether I agree or not, is NOT to the question of their authority.

    3. Kristine Montamat says:

      I can scarcely believe my eyes– that the ignorance of the Bishops, and the smugness of some commenters here, should be a fact in a denomination that by and large is educated and worldly. The Episcopal Church of America ought just to hang out a banner that says, “Sorry, y’all, but… No. We’re with Rome. And Pharaoh. And Babylon.”

  8. Shane Patrick Connolly says:

    Why caption the photo: “…which sought to end the church’s financial complicity in the Israeli occupation?” This caption uses charged wording that takes a particular viewpoint and doesn’t reflect the complexities of the issue. Neutral language is better for captions, otherwise you are slipping from journalism to advocacy.

    1. Jon Spangler says:

      I believe the original Resolution D019 expressed its intent as seeking to end the church’s financial complicity in the Israeli occupation, so the ENS report would properly include that wording to reflect the resolution’s motivation. You may disagree with the strategy but the intention is a good one.

      The United States is deeply complicit in the slaughter of generations of Palestinians by Israeli occupiers–a people who should know better, based on their Holy Scriptures and their human experience. (We should know better than to support the oppression of Palestinians, too.)

  9. Steve Price says:

    Words without actions are worthless.What has happened here is best described as nothing.

  10. Linda Garrish Thomas says:

    I am quite disappointed with the House of Bishops’ decision not to divest. Ultimately, this means continued support of of the killing of innocent Palestinians and destruction of their homes!

  11. Araminta Johnston says:

    So sad! Our bishops, whether they voted for or against, owe us an explanation for the House of Bishops’ decision. It’s easy to support peace in the Middle East if you don’t have to do anything about it.

  12. Margaret Trezevant says:

    Heartbroken by this decision by the House of Bishops. A sad day for the Church.

  13. Allen Bartlett says:

    As one who has visited Palestine and Israel more than a dozen times since 1991, I am deeply saddened by this action by my fellow bishops. I know well the complexities but I know even better the painful oppression being increasingly imposed on them by Israel. We should not be
    complicit in this. To do nothing is to say “this is normal.” I fervently pray that in resolutions to come, the Convention will reassert the Episcopal Church’s long advocacy of justice and peace in the the land of Jesus.

    1. The Rev. James M. Bimbi says:

      Thank you, Bishop Bartlett, for your comment. My heart sank as I received the news of the HOB vote. The arguments opposed are stale and lacking in any understanding or appreciation of the situation, which is only growing worse by the day.

  14. Earl B Curtis says:

    I could not stay with any organization that had anything to do with BDS of Israel. This was an attempt to make our Church as Anti-Semitic as some of its proponents are.

    1. Chris Schul says:

      Opposition to apartheid, ethnic cleansing, land theft, extra-judicial killings, water theft is anti-Zionism not anti-Semitic. Although the violent racist regime of Netanyahu would like everyone to think it is. South Africa apartheid redux.

    2. Diane Triantis says:

      I and those opposing the actions of Israel are hardly anti-Semitic. Any truly religious (as opposed to political) Jew would agree. What Israel is doing has everything to do with politics and nothing to do with teachings of Torah. Pointing fingers and labeling anyone as an anti-Semite who has the guts to speak out against the rogue Israeli govt. is a tired and typical scare tactic. I see it worked well on the Bishops.

      1. Kristine Montamat says:

        Amen, Diane.

    3. Kristine Montamat says:

      The Palestinians are Semitic.
      The Ashkenazi Jews who rule Israel are descended from Russians who converted, and who lived in Eastern Europe until the 1940s.
      It is an inversion of fact to say Europeans should be protected, while the brown-skinned people who have always been members of that ethnic/linguistic group Just Don’t Count. (Semitism is not Jewish, it is a language group of which Arabic, Akkadian, Aramaic and Hebrew are part.) No political philosophy is more Anti-Semitic than Zionism.

  15. The Rev. Dr. John Paddock says:

    Obviously, the Deputies are more tuned to justice than the Bishops.

    1. Andrew Poland says:

      That’s not a terribly inclusive statement for you to make, Rev. Perhaps you should find some means of reconciling with those who are differently-theologized.

      Is that enough newspeak to make sense?

      Not everyone in this church feels like you. Nor the house of deputies. Forcing all of us to make such a divisive stand is not inclusive. As a shepherd, you and the HOD risk losing your flock by worrying about another.

      1. Steve Price says:

        I’m glad to hear the Rev.is worried about others.That’s one of the things Christians do.Those that aren’t concerned about others?

        1. Frank Harrision says:

          Dear Mr. Price — Sometimes we are in a position in which we truly worry about others but cannot do anything about it and for various reasons. Or sometimes we are in a position to worry about others and if we do try to do something about it we end up hurting a great many others. These are just part of the complexities of living. Only in Heaven will all be well.

    2. Marie France says:

      Dear Rev. Paddock: You are quite right to note that it is the deputies who are attuned to justice. More important, they were willing to stand against the ongoing and deliberate destruction of the Palestinian people. Thank you.

      1. David A. Salmon says:

        But you are fine and dandy with Hamas constantly calling for the destruction of Israel and genocide of the Jewish people?

        1. Matt Ouellette says:

          Criticism of the Israeli government is not support for Hamas. No one here supports Hamas and its radical, violent policies. However, that doesn’t excuse the unjust policies of the Likud government which involve stealing land that belongs to the Palestinians.

          1. David A. Salmon says:

            Matt – what is it the left likes to say? Silence = acceptance? I do not care if anyone criticized the Israelis, but I note that the same people rarely find it in their hearts to condemn Hamas and the Palestinians for their open declarations of genocide. I cannot take the morality of such people seriously…

          2. Matt Ouellette says:

            That’s because Hamas’ awfulness goes without saying. We all know that Hamas is terrible and extremist. We don’t need to condemn Hamas every time we point out the injustice of the Likud government. That’s a whataboutism argument.

          3. David A. Salmon says:

            Matt – not every point against yours is whataboutism… I am sorry that you think that “well, we know Hamas is bad so no need to point out their genocide tendencies”…that is complacency, not whataboutism.. hold Israel’s feet to the fire, but also hold Hamas’ feet to hold he fire. No compromise with genocide, period. You are not the problem, but do not ignore the streak of anti-Semitism that runs through the church and many folks in the church who ignore this inhumane call…

        2. Kristine Montamat says:

          And you are fine and dandy with the Israeli Government enacting every day the destruction of Palestinian lives– by physical brutality, by denying medical care, by shuttering schools– and the theft of their land and water– in plain, not metaphorical, terms: the Israeli genocide of the Palestinians. Among them, the original Christians. Does that not concern you? Why not?

  16. Len Freeman says:

    The pejorative language of “ending the church’s complicity” etc etc. really kind of made clear the case that needed to be rejected. Being able to debate honestly a complicated issue would have been a plus, but clearly the Deputies language precluded that. The whole issue of “divestment” has had a long history of not being effective, and in fact working out to be counter-productive in situations like this…. on the simple reality that if all the “moral” people bail out on the companies doing business in these situations, what you are left with is only people who don’t care, in charge of those companies, and the moral voice functionally removed from the effective conversation,
    There is lots that needs to be said to our Israeli brothers and sisters about their actions with regard to our Palestinian brothers and sisters, but divestment and name-calling will not be what helps.

  17. Jerry Williams says:

    Sixty percent is not joyous, but adequate. Direct help to the Palestinians would seem to be the most productive route. Take a percentage of the earnings from the booming Trump economy and directly help the people. I say directly because a portion of the funds meant for the people get diverted to build tunnels. That would be something everyone could agree upon. Or, directly support the hospitals the Israelis have set up.

    1. Matt Ouellette says:

      I don’t think direct help, as admirable as it may be, will stop the Israeli government from building settlements on land that belongs to the Palestinians. I don’t know what the solution is, but something needs to be done to stop the Likud government from continuing it unjust policies.

  18. Shame on the bishops.

  19. Jon Spangler says:

    I am deeply sadderned and disappointed that a “large majority”of our bishops seem to oppose looking closely at how our church, its institutions, and its members invest our money for good — and to oppose evil. I cannot fathom how our bishops could justify a stance which perpetuates spending our investment monies to “beat plowshares into swords” or to help known oppressors (the Israelis, the Russians, or anyone else, including the United States of America) procure and use weapons that oppress, terrorize, and kill the poor, the homeless, and refugees.

  20. Vicki Gray says:

    What a difference a day makes. The author of the article calls this 48-68 vote killing D019 in the House of Bishops a “sudden punctuation.” Indeed it is…this vote to continue TEC’s complicity in occupation, colonization, and oppression of one people by another more powerful people…this attempt by the timid and cautious to cover-up with so many empty words their shameful silence and inaction in the face of the manifest injustices and mounting death toll that mark the current situation in our now unholy Holy Land…this unwillingness to listen to the cries of the oppressed…this inability to comprehend that the two-state solution died years ago and with it the chance for a negotiated solution…this failure by the shepherds to lead or even to follow their sheep.
    Yes, this was about disinvestment – the only honorable thing to do under the current circumstances. But I for.one never harbored any illusions about the economic power of the Episcopal Church. This, for me, was always about moral suasion, not only to improve the lot of Palestinians, but also, and perhaps more importantly, to save the soul of Israel and the Church.
    Having failed – yet again – I have no more facts or arguments to deploy and precious little energy to continue the struggle within TEC (I will be 82 when the bishops next get around to this in three years). Oh, I will continue the struggle (I made a promise to a ten-year-old boy in a refugee camp that I would not forget Palestine), But I will do so outside the Church.
    As I’ve said, I felt the Spirit moving in Austin and I will follow Jesus out of the halls, beyond the walls…to where God’s people are hurting…to our local detention center, to our open-air Open Cathedral, and maybe even to Gaza.
    I thank all of you who worked so hard these past three years and past few days to achieve what we did in the House of Deputies and wish you well in Baltimore. I will hold you in my heart.

    1. Tiana Brachel says:

      My Episcopalian heart weeps along with many others today. Boycott and divestment are areas of non-violent engagement with the issues of occupation/colonization and ethnic cleansing continuing against the Palestinian people. Recently, at a march protesting the slaughter in Gaza, a group of us stood and listened to a beautiful Jewish woman sing in Hebrew about how nations should put down their swords. When she began to cry and could sing no longer, her young daughter continued to sing for her. At another march, an Orthodox rabbi told us that Zionism and true Judaism are “oceans apart.” Hamas has too long been used as a scapegoat and as an excuse for Americans to do nothing. People are suffering and dying in West Bank and Gaza, and the noose is tightening around their throats.

    2. Tiana Brachel says:

      Rev. Gray, your comment makes me weep as well. I pray for you that you will remain strong and steadfast in upholding your promise made to a suffering ten-year-old Palestinian refugee, and I stand with you in your promise with every scrap of resource that God has given me. Tearful prayers and hope be with you and with this precious child.

  21. Joseph L. Graves Jr. says:

    I am deeply disappointed at the action of the House of Bishops. This raises for me the question of whether the Episcopal Church has the moral fiber to get on the side of social justice. I have been wrestling with this question since i joined this church. Getting on the right side of social justice means asking harder questions about Eurocentrism, white supremacy, colonialism, and imperialism than this church seems to want to engage in. The modern state of Israel is a major player in the USA/European domination of the Middle East. It is a colonial settler state founded out of those same nation’s guilt over allowing the rise of the Nazis and lack of action against Jewish genocide. It also was a faustian bargain in which its presence also allowed the USA/European powers to play carrot and stick with the oil rich Arab nations (nations that did not exist until those same powers created them.) I wonder how many in the House of Bishops were familiar with Israel’s long standing military alliance with apartheid in South Africa? Or the racist treatment that non-European Jews face in that nation? The argument that divestment from Israel would irreparably damage the church’s relationship with Israel is not sufficient. Ironically, similar arguments were made during the rise of the Nazi party in Germany concerning damaging the ability to influence Hitler’s policy towards the Jews. In this case we should be concerned with how our actions support the people who are most oppressed in this situation: the Palestinians.

    1. Frank Harrision says:

      Dear Mr. Graves — And just what do you understand by getting on “right side of social justice”? First, note that “social justice” is a relatively new concept in The Church coming out of the 17th-18th century Enlightenment. Second, what are the standards by which you apply the term “right side” as opposed, I would imagine, to “wrong side”? Please do not answer with such phrases as “following Jesus” or “that is what Jesus would do,” and the like. These are meaningful at best only within a commonly accepted theological background of which I see little in the Episcopal Church. Further, do not merely quote the Bible. As you know, the Bible can be read in vastly different ways by different individuals each claiming to have the correct reading. Before I can either agree or disagree with your comments, I have to know what you are asserting. So, all I am asking for is a good deal more clearity.

      1. Matt Ouellette says:

        No, social justice is not a new concept. It is inherent to our faith, and was a central part of Jesus’ ministry (with a focus on healing the sick, feeding the hungry, ministering to the poor, etc.).

        1. Frank Harrison says:

          In the “old days” this was viewed as following the natural law (not social justice) as based in God’s law and the nature of human beings reflecting God. These are all theological concepts making sense only in a coherent overall theology. Social justice is more a concept of civil law following the dictates of the courts sometimes coupled with the notion of “rights”. There are many notions of “justice” and we ought to be clear about what we are saying.

        2. Frank Harrison says:

          Dear Matt, whilst I disagree with you in some case and agree in others, I am delighted to read your comments and think about them. So, much superior the simple emoting I see. THANKS.

      2. Joseph L. Graves Jr. says:

        In response to those who ask what my views on social justice are, please visit:
        https://www3.beacon-center.org/blog/2016/08/25/science-and-social-justice/ . I have been doing this work and doing scholarly writing on this subject most of my adult life. You may also take a look at my two books on racism: The Emperor’s New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the Millennium, RUP, 2005; and The Race Myth: Why We Pretend Race Exists in America (Dutton Books), 2005. Both engage the subject of racism and social justice.

    2. Jon Lenihan says:

      It would be nice if Christian churches could find something to do, other than punishing the Jews for their crimes.

    3. Leon Spencer says:

      Excellent, Joe. I have admired Brian Grieves and his passion and thoughtfulness about Palestinian issues over the years. His quote above, “Let this be finally the convention where we say we will no longer allow our financial resources to enable this brutal occupation,” is valuable, even if it did not prevail.

    4. Carole Reed says:

      Well stated by those commenting on the brutality of Israel toward Palestinians. It is an embarrassment for me as a communicant of the Episcopal Church to associate with an establishment that condones or chooses not to acknowledge the evil that exists in the Israeli government’s brutality toward those they oppress.

      1. Steve Price says:

        I’m glad you specified “Israeli government”instead of Israeli people.Netanyahu,like Trump,did not receive the majority of the vote.More Israelis voted against him than for him.It undermines the decent Israelis efforts to drive this beast from power when groups like the Episcopal Church won’t take a meaningful stand

    5. Kristine Montamat says:

      Mr. Graves,
      I share your concerns. I fear a majority of the House of Bishops certainly lack the moral fiber to do more than talk about peace, or justice. This vote represents a paralyzing ignorance of the history of colonial Israel. What’s the excuse? The facts are uncomfortable? “We don’t want to upset the status quo” ? Actions like this really do a lot to undermine all those nice things the Church says. Lions 1, Christians 0.

  22. The Rev. James M. Bimbi says:

    Perhaps a 100+ years from now the HOB will call the Church to issue a formal apology to any remaining descendents of the Palestinian people, and we can gather for special services of repentance, and then all go on with other matters. The Jesus Movement must not interfere with the business of the institution.

    1. Kristine Montamat says:

      Rev. James Bimbi,
      Yes, you said it. We can get together and talk about what a sad thing it was. Only, I don’t think it will be in 100+ years from now. Another urgent moral– and practical– issue: climate change.

  23. Len Freeman says:

    Is it possible that our Bishops are thoughtful, as opposed to “knee jerk” in their analysis?

    1. Kristine Montamat says:

      IF the Bishops were “thoughtful” they would have informed themselves of facts, and thought about how those facts can be whitewashed by anyone calling themselves a Christian. A moral affront that brave Christians have been confronting for decades and decades now can only be characterized as “knee jerk” by someone who is at was with facts.
      And oh by the way, consider that Palestinians are the first Christians. Yes. Many of them have left the Holy Land, starting with the ethnic cleansing of 1947-48, with heavily armed White Europeans driving 75% of the population into the desert, into the sea, into wells. Oh, but those first Christians aren’t exactly “white,” so they apparently don’t count.

      1. Jon Lenihan says:

        What you believe in is called “blood and soil fascism.” The Arab Master Race has entitlements the the Jewish Subhumans do not have. Master Races are entitled to homelands, are free to settle in places to which they are strongly drawn, are never “colonists” or “settlers” or “foreigners.” Acts of violence, inflicted on Subhumans by Master Races are deserved. The reverse is “a crime against humanity.”

        None of this is new. Before the Nazis, the totalitarian police states of Christendom and Dar Al Islam enforced the same hierarchy of violence.

        Naturally, suppression of Jews rings warm familiar bells for followers of European state churches. State churches spent 1000 years in the driver’s seat, cleansing populations, until the French Revolution. Since 1789, they’ve been subverting American/ French secular democracy by saying to their followers, Sunday after Sunday, “It isn’t right that Jews, homosexuals, atheists, pagans, secularists, insubordinate women, apostates, should be allowed to walk the streets as equals of Christians. It’s an insult to Jesus.”

        Going to a Hamas rally, is like going home.

        1. Susan Yarborough says:

          And what is going to a Likud rally like? There are terrible wrongs being committed on both sides. No one who is informed can deny that. But the state of Israel is immensely more powerful than Hamas. It regularly commits atrocities on a scale that Hamas could not possibly achieve. I say this as someone who with extreme reluctance agrees with the Bishops’ decision. My heart is with the House of Deputies, but my head is with the Bishops.

          The two-state solution is dead. The Episcopal Church must seek to work closely with those organizations trying to provide essential services and rebuild Palestine. It must also find the places where it can exert effective influence on the Israeli economy and on Israeli public opinion and support Palestinians and Israelis who are seeking reconciliation.

          The Church can also reassess its investments and find ways to stay economically engaged in Israel in ways that do not give support to Likud. This takes energy, detailed analysis, and considered action. I would like to see a commitment from the House of Bishops to do just that.

          1. Jon Lenihan says:

            The murder of Jews, and the expressed desire to murder more Jews, is a trifling matter to you. I doubt that there are many Jews who share your Christan generosity and forbearance in this matter, Likud or not.

          2. Kristine Montamat says:

            Mr. Lenihan,
            Is the murder of Palestinians and their daily starvation even a trifling matter to you? The Zionists weep and moan about how “the Arabs” threaten them. Unlike the Arabs, however, the Israeli Jews actually do kill/maim/starve Palestinians on an almost daily basis. That’s a matter of factual record. Unless you are of a Trump persuasion, of course, and then facts don’t matter.

          3. Jon Lenihan says:

            The 400 million Arabs, one billion plus Muslims calculate that they must inevitably triumph in a war against an Israeli Jewish population of 6-7 million and/ or a global Jewish population of 14 million. Believing in inevitable victory, they do not seek compromise. It would in any event be degrading for a Muslim to stoop to accommodate a Jew.

            I feel the same way about casualties inflicted upon Palestinians, as I feel about the Allied bombing campaign against Nazi Germany in 1943-45. It’s sad for the innocent children, for the peaceable individuals dragged into a conflict by their leaders. But the holy warriors have to be stopped and a catastrophic loss in war seems to be the only way to stop them.

          4. Kristine Montamat says:

            Your comments have all the markings of hasbara. What you say is worse than nonsense– it is deliberately anti-factual. You know perfectly well that “the Arabs” are not about to attack poor little Israel, which disdains to follow any limits the US seeks to put on abundant financial and military aid– more financial aid than ALL other countries in the world combined. You know perfectly well that under slightly different circumstances you would be kvelling about how other Arab states do nothing for the Palestinians. You know perfectly well that the Zionist State has from its earliest days shown utter indifference to the Palestinian population.You know perfectly well that 75% of the indigenous Palestinians were driven out of the UN-granted territory of Israel in 1947-48 by Zionist terrorists. You know perfectly well that a very-much-white UN granted certain territories but specified that Jerusalem was to be an international city. You know perfectly well that it is Israel which will settle for nothing less than everything it wants, and has honored no agreement and will honor no agreement. You know perfectly well that over decades now prominent politicians have called for the elimination-by-any-means of Arabs. Neither the “Arabs” nor the Palestinians believe in global victory– but you do.

          5. Jon Lenihan says:

            Your comments about the impurity of Ashkenazi blood sit on the bridge where Christian anti-Judaism segues into fascist anti semitism.

            Pan Arabism, Islamism have in fact caused the elimination of non Arab and non Muslim populations from Morocco to Pakistan. There are in fact, no Jews in areas under the security control of Hamas or Fatah. Muslims and Arabs do in fact kill Jews in France, Argentina, India, Denmark and etc. This includes face to face murders of small Jewish children, as in Toulouse.

            If Palestinians wish to change the nature of their relations with Israelis, they ought to protest against the policies of their governments. It will never happen, because they don’t want a change, they want the final victory ordained by Allah, himself.

          6. Kristine Montamat says:

            Mr. Lenihan, You are definitely a hasbara spokesman. You know perfectly well that post 1947 there were multiple campaigns by Zionist organizations to terrorize Arab-Jews into leaving their Arab countries to go to Israel (where they were treated like 2nd class citizens, because they were not white). This is a matter of historical record.
            Typical hasbara-style, you point out how Arabs kills Jews in Europe, and gloss over the staggeringly high death toll of Palestinians– women, children, men– by the Zionist state. As state policy– indiscriminate aerial bombings of multi-dwelling apartment buildings, denial of health services, denial of international aid, destruction of water-treatment facilities, spraying of noxious chemicals, destruction of ancient (but still productive!) olive groves– to starve the Palestinians to death, the use of violence at every possible turn– against Israeli-Jewish protestors, too. You don’t even have the decency to regret these deaths.
            Israeli Zionists want the final victory, and there is evidently no level of dishonesty to which such people will not stoop to help these cruel and selfish plans. Very Trump-like: accuse the other side of doing what you’re doing, and call facts “fake news!”
            But tell me, what’s a hasbara Zionist doing on an Episcopalian site? “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is one of our two great commandments. And ancient Palestine, as you probably know, was a polyglot, cosmopolitan society. Loving your neighbor doesn’t involve just loving fellow Zionists.

          7. Jon Lenihan says:

            Christian love of neighbors is selective and self serving, as you so amply demonstrate. No non-Christian population wants to be on the receiving end.

            The persistence of Jew hatred in the Christian tradition, from continent to continent, from agrarian societies to industrial societies, under communism, capitalism, and fascism, from Christian sect to sect, points to it’s depth and indispensability within the tradition.

            Episcopalians, have dozed, or worse, through 150 years of Jew murders and expulsions. Episcopalians do not have the moral authority to lecture Jews about the exigencies of Jewish survival.

            If you can’t stand criticism, stay out of public venues, such as internet.

          8. Kristine Montamat says:

            Oh, you do make me laugh.
            Criticism is fine! Made-up facts and rationalizations are not.
            As you are worried about Jewish survival, you should be deeply worried by the cancer that is Zionism. A cancer like other white-supremacist/ ultra-nationalistic/ colonizing policies, it changes and devours that which it claims to “represent.”
            Every American schoolkid used to know: “two wrongs don’t make a right.” Dispossessing the Palestinians of their land because of European white-supremacist/ultanationalism? How was that ever supposed to work.
            You may never, unfortunately, have heard of the two Russian rabbis who in the late 19th Century were sent (undercover) to assess Palestine as a Jewish homeland. Their message, in code: “The bride is indeed beautiful. But she is already married.”

            If you don’t know the history, the facts, this is a good time to start learning.

          9. Jon Lenihan says:

            Palestine was a battlefield, where the forces of Muhammad Ali in Egypt, the ibn Saud in Arabia, fought the Sultan in Istanbul and fought each other, from 1805 to 1840. After that, there were several Maronite-Druze wars. The coastal plain was a depopulated ruin, when Mark Twain visited circa 1850.

            In the inaccessible hills, were small feudal villages. Landlords lived in Cairo, typically, while overseers beat the maximum output out of the serfs. Half of the Arab speaking population were Bedouins, tribes with no fixed address, who lived in part by raiding the settled villages.

            The Sultan invited the Jews to rebuild the country. The memory of the benefits brought to the Empire by the Sephardic Jews of 1492 guided the Sultan’s decision. The Jew rebuilt the country.

            The Muslim Arab claim: the work of the Jews belongs to Muslims/Arabs because blah blah blah blood and soil.

            What Arabs have built in the Arab controlled parts of Palestine = nothing.

  24. William Howard says:

    How tragic to see a majority of our bishops vote in opposition to peace and justice. Because that is what they have done, denials and obfuscations notwithstanding.

    Blessed be those bishops who do the right thing.
    Shame upon bishops who appease the Right Wing.

    1. Kristine Montamat says:

      Yes, Mr. Howard,
      It is tragic– if perhaps predictable– that the Institution of the church is more important to a majority of bishops than peace and justice. And so, the majority voted to leave the Palestinians hanging on the cross for another three years.

    2. Frank Harrison says:

      Is there equal shame on those bishops who appeal to the left wing? If not, then specifically why not? I should think that the bishops should refuse to appeal to either wing and avoid making a political arena out of the church.

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