Mennonite Church Canada Palestine-Israel Network
Implementing the 2016 resolution on Palestine and Israel
October 21, 2020
Dear "friends of the resolution":
In July, many of us signed a petition to end Canada's importation of of settlement products falsely labeled as "product of Israel." The petition did reach the floor of the House of Commons! This month's letter-writing action rides that momentum with a call to ask our MPs to get behind the petition. Read more below.
This month we also highlight
- the new three year-partnership that Mennonite Church Canada has signed with Bethlehem Bible College
- the recording of a web presentation with Palestinian church leader and friend of Mennonites, Alex Awad
- Advent and Christmas: shopping and worshipping toward a just peace
- a link to a KumiNow video on an Israeli initiative to push for a "truth and reconciliation" process that recognizes the Nakba
- an update and prayer concerning Israel's latest approval of fresh settlement expansion.
Write-a-Letter Wednesday: Support for Petition e-2710 on settlement products
Special thanks to Nathan Dueck & Carolyne Epp-Fransen of the Manitoba working group
Take action online through Write-a-Letter-Wednesday Zoom gatherings-- a great time to act for justice while in a community of other advocates. Our meetings are once a month and only 40 minutes long. We hope you will join us next Wednesday, October 28, at 7:30 p.m. central zone, using this link: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/77005984627?pwd=MzFLUDRiOEQzQWtWZUwxekgwV3BMQT09 [Meeting ID: 770 0598 4627; Passcode: 6354]. Even if you can't come, you can write a letter.
In July's Write-a-Letter Wednesday, we drew attention to the problem of illegal Israeli settlements exporting products to Canada on the same tariff-free terms as goods and services originating in Israel. We signed Petition e-2710, which was sponsored by Elizabeth May of the Green Party of Canada calling for a prohibition against this. (As you may recall, the roots of the petition are in a lawsuit that Winnipeg activist David Kattenburg won against the federal government regarding the mislabeling of West Bank wine as "product of Israel." The federal government is appealing the decision--hence the petition.)
On October 2, 2020 May presented the petition in Parliament, with 1,111 signatures. This was significant but fell short of the 10,000 signatures needed to require a response from government.
Our goal now is to ask parliamentarians to study the petition and support it publicly. Click on this link for a sample letter that you can copy or adapt to write to your MP, with copies to these parliamentarians: Mary.Ng@parl.gc.ca; Francois-Philippe.Champagne@parl.gc.ca; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com. For your MP's address, go here.
MC Canada signs on to partnership with West Bank college
On September 26 2020, Mennonite Church Canada approved a partnership agreement with Bethlehem Bible College (BBC) . At various times since BBC began in 1979, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and Mennonite Church Canada have supported BBC through funds and volunteers. The agreement calls for people-to-people exchanges and mutual learning about the biblical call to peace and justice. In-person exchanges will be be limited while the pandemic lasts, but MC Canada and the PIN network will nevertheless be working at these relationships. Stay tuned!. For a fuller story on the this development and other initiatives that the MC Canada PIN has been involved in, click here.
Photo by Amira Farhoud: Yousef Al-Khouri teaches a class in hermeneutics last month.
Please pray for BBC President Jack Sara and the faculty and students this semester as they deal with multiple challenges:
- Covid-19’s devastation of the tourism-dependent economy
- health and safety following the resumption of classes;
- living under Israel’s 53-year-old military occupation.
- For the MC Canada International Witness staff and the MC Canada Palestine-Israel Network (initiators of this partnership)—as they work at follow-up to the new memorandum of understanding.
Alex Awad presentation on peace advocacy in Palestine and Israel
On October 15, the Mennonite Church British Columbia's Peace, Service and Justice Committe sponsored a webinar with Alex Awad, former pastor of East Jerusalem Baptist church and longtime teacher and administrator at Bethlehem Bible College. Alex, currently living in the US, has been instrumental in helping Mennonites and many other churches in North America learn about Palestine-Israel from a Palestinian Christian point of view. In this video, he gives a personal and theological analysis of what makes for peace in the Holy Land. Here is the link to a recording of the webinar.
Advent worship ideas
The first Sunday of Advent this year falls on November 29, the international Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. While our congregations may already have plans, let us do what we can to can include recognition of the hopes and the struggles of our brothers and sisters in Palestine and Israel. The Friends of Sabeel North America have compiled an impressive collection of prayers, music, sermons, children's stories, art, and litanies that can be used on November 29 and throughout the season. Don't miss a moving video of "Drummer Boy" sung in English and Arabic from a rooftop in Bethlehem.
Christmas shopping for justice
As Advent approaches, may we recommend Star Bazaar
, the unique gift shop of Bethlehem Bible College. In Bethlehem's tourism-dependent economy, the pandemic has severely challenged the livelihoods of those who produce and sell the beautful--and useful--olive wood, glass and ceramic products, jewelry, and cosmetics associated with the Holy Land. Fortunately, the Bazaar is able to provide these fair-trade products through online orders, to people around the world who are currently unable to visit Bethlehem. The sales support both the local artisans and BBC's various ministries. Visit the site soon, to allow for shipping time. Current offer: free olivewood coasters with orders.
(Photo courtesy of Star Bazaar)
Our update has also promoted Zatoun, the Canadian-based organization that links the marketing of Palestinian oilive oil products with human rights advocacy. Now is the time to order your crates of olive oil and other products for promotion in your circles.
Workshop on juvenile incarceration
Related to last month's letter-writing on the incarceration of Palestinian children, consider joining a workshop this Saturday afterooon (October 24), sponsored by Canadian Friends of Sabeel, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, and PalNet Pacific.
The Israeli government gave its approval to the building of 2166 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, the 14th of October. This move comes less than a month after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed normalization agreements with Israel. In return, Israel had pledged to hold back on its plans to annex large areas of the West Bank.
• Oh Lord, our hearts break as we hear that the Israeli government is annexing more land in the occupied West Bank for settler homes. We pray that governments and lawmakers around the world will speak out against this illegal annexation. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.
Thank you, and keep in touch!
Please let us know if you have suggestions, questions, or concerns about what you read in this update, or if you wish to unsubscribe. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, be sure to visit the PIN website for more on the MC Canada Resolution and its follow-up.
Byron Rempel-Burkholder, editor, with special thanks to Jesse Bergen for the banner at the top