IPMN condemns Israel’s new apartheid law favoring Jewish citizens
July 20, 2018 — It is with heavy hearts that the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) recognizes that Israeli lawmakers this past week gave final approval to codifying inequality through new legislation, dubbed “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People.”
In essence, this new law closes the door on every possibility our newly approved church policy recognizes for the assurance of equal rights for all citizens of Israel, regardless of their religion. Israel has now dropped the pretense of being a democracy and having equal rights for all its citizens.
At our General Assembly in St. Louis, Missouri last month, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) overwhelmingly approved the overture “On Advocating for the Human Rights of All Citizens of Israel.” This measure, 1) Affirms the support of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights; 2) Directs the Office of the General Assembly to write to the United States President and Secretary of State urging them to use diplomatic tools to bring Israel into full compliance with the Universal Declaration; and 3) Advocates for the cessation of all actions that block equal access of all citizens in Israel’s legal system, citizenship privileges, income and employment, distribution of resources and social welfare, accessibility to land, educational resources, availability to health resources and political participation.
Israeli Palestine advocate Miko Peled, whose grandfather Avraham Katznelson signed Israel’s Proclamation of Independence, and whose father, General Mattityah Peled served in the Israeli military during the 1967 war, has stated that the “Knesset’s new Nation State Law codifies Israel as an Apartheid State.” Peled goes on to acknowledge that although Israel’s Declaration of Independence never uses the word democracy, it does say that Israel “will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants…” and “it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.” Israel’s new law renders these proclamations moot.
Omar Barghouti, friend of the Israel Palestine Mission Network and co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, also stated that with this new law, Israel has declared itself an apartheid state. Barghouti calls for other governments to hold Israel accountable, saying, “From now on, it will not just be legal to racially discriminate against the indigenous Palestinian citizens of the state, it will be constitutionally mandated and required. This should stir people, institutions and governments to take effective action to hold Israel accountable.” Barghouti concludes, “No Israeli far-right government, with all the blind support it receives from xenophobic and outright fascist forces in the United States and Europe, will ever extinguish our aspiration for freedom, justice and equality.”
Since its inception by General Assembly mandate in 2004, the Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been striving for a “Just Peace” in Israel and Palestine. Our network has consistently embraced that cause by advocating for boycott of all Israeli settlement products, for divestment from companies that profit from non-peaceful pursuits in the occupied Palestinian Territories, and calling upon the United States government to apply economic sanctions towards the Israeli government until it complies with U.S. and international human rights law. IPMN has also consistently called for equal rights of Palestinian citizens in Israel and for basic human rights in the occupied Palestinian Territories.
Although some have sought to characterize our mandated work in advocacy and education as anti-Israel or antisemitic, we know better. Criticizing the policies of the political state of Israel is neither anti-Israel nor antisemitic . We are FOR human rights for ALL peoples, and that includes supporting intersectional justice partners such as Black Lives Matter, Native American rights groups, and justice groups for immigrants and refugees.
In accordance with our mandate, and because our denomination now has policies calling for justice for all Palestinians, we will continue our work and seek to fulfill our calling. Therefore we condemn Israel’s new Nation State Law, and respectfully call upon network members and partners as well as all Presbyterians and members of our partner churches, to continue to pray and strive for the human rights of all Palestinians in Israel, Gaza and the occupied Palestinian Territories, and in the Diaspora. The IPMN will never shrink from this important work, no matter what laws may be passed by the Israeli government or the United States Congress that may try to castigate Palestine and its indigenous population.