A MESSAGE FROM OUR MODERATOR
Peace be with you!
According to both Luke and John, these were the first words the risen Christ spoke to the eleven disciples who were still assembled together wondering what to do next.
That Peace… that Salaam
… that Shalom
is uppermost in my mind in this week following Easter Sunday. For over a decade, we have stood for a Just Peace in Palestine and Israel. We have responded to the mandate given to us in 2004 by the 216th General Assembly and have put those concerns front and center in our denomination. We published Cradle of Our Faith, Steadfast Hope, the Kairos Palestine Document Study Guide,
and Zionism Unsettled.
Over the years, thousands of copies of these publications have been used by congregations in the PC(USA) and other denominations. They have helped to fill a void in our church, and to start a dialogue and debate that was greatly needed.
We have resourced those in our church who felt it important and necessary to call upon successive General Assemblies in order to: respond to the Amman Call; pass the Middle East Study Committee report; encourage trips to Israel and Palestine that are balanced and responsible; ask for a boycott of Israeli settlement products; call upon the United States Government to follow its own laws in regard to aid given to Israel while it violates Palestinian human rights; and divest from our holdings in companies that profit from the illegal occupation of Palestine. We helped to encourage the 221st General Assembly to ask for a comprehensive report on our longstanding, largely unexamined denominational policy supporting the two-state solution. Now that this report has been made public, IPMN would like to commend the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy for completing a difficult task. At the same time that this committee accurately reported the facts on the ground, which should make anyone reading it wonder if our policy is paying mere lip service to an overarching Israeli government agenda, it also sought to be responsive to the varying opinions within the PC(USA). We support the good work done on this report, and we hope that it will be a catalyst for enlightened discussion at the 222nd General Assembly in both the committee room and the plenary. We encourage all commissioners and Presbyterians to read it thoroughly.
IPMN believes that the PC(USA) should endorse neither a two state solution nor a one state solution. This is not for us, American Christians who will not have to live with the consequences, to decide. The call of our partners in Israel / Palestine is clear: above all else we need to use boycott, divestment and sanctions as non-violent tools to ensure equal rights for all Israelis and Palestinians, regardless of whether there is one state (as effectively exists now), two states, or no states at all.
The way to peace is to be unafraid to have frank and open discussion in regard to the very topics we could barely broach a decade ago: Ending the occupation, equal rights, BDS, and two-state solution. We have seen a lot of change since then, especially in what has become a global movement for justice in Palestine. Throughout this time, IPMN has been insistent and consistent about its call to non-violence in the face of oppression. We have partnered only with those organizations that embrace the ways of PC(USA) Peacemaking. At the same time we know only too well that violence falls upon the Palestinian people in disproportionate numbers, and always has. We recognize as well that some Palestinians have turned to violence and that many Israelis have suffered and died from that violence. We know that many Palestinian young adults, who have watched their parents and grandparents pursue peace to no avail, have become more than frustrated, are losing hope, and some have turned to ultimately destructive violent answers.
On this Monday following Holy Week and Easter, with the church office officially closed, I am sitting at my desk embracing the peace and quiet of this following day. It feels like the risen Christ breathed his peace on me after busy times. But I also know I cannot sit around for too long wondering what to do next. I cannot say “peace, peace” when I know that for so many there is no peace. With this said, the Israel Palestine Mission Network looks ahead to General Assembly in Portland, Oregon and we continue to ask: What makes for peace in Palestine and Israel? What is Christ calling us to do? How can we all work together to make his peace a reality?
I do think it means that we take the issues coming before us seriously, but do not take ourselves too seriously. As I watch the concern for Palestinian justice grow across the nation and the globe, and for the very first time even hear an American Jewish candidate for President ask hard questions about what is going on as a result of occupation, I know that the witness of the PC(USA) in this regard is but one small piece of the puzzle. But we are in the puzzle, and we were in it when that puzzle was much smaller.
As we look forward to the 222nd General Assembly starting on June 18th, I encourage you to keep this dialogue going strong. Talk to your presbytery and synod leadership, find out who your commissioners to G.A. are and share your concerns with them, and if you are able, join us in Portland in June. If you can come for part of the time, or for the whole week, let us know; your presence will be helpful as we continue to join with so many others who understand that justice in Palestine means peace for Palestinians and Israelis alike.
Peace and Grace,
Jeff DeYoe, Moderator
Israel Palestine Mission Network