Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Peace Goes to General Synod

At a December 2017 meeting, the Church Council of Peace United Church voted to become the first "Hewlett-Packard-Free" church in the country.  With that vote the church followed through on the action of General Synod 30 in Cleveland, in which the United Church of Christ committed to divesting from HP and other companies profiting from the illegal settlement of the West Bank and occupation of Palestinian territories.

In addition, that same night, the Church Council voted to endorse a resolution headed to next summer's General Synod 31 in Baltimore: "A Call for the United Church of Christ to Advocate for the Rights of Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation: A Resolution of Witness."  Readers can find that resolution here.  With congregations in Lyme, Connecticut; Washington, DC; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Hillsboro, Oregon; and several other settings, we're calling on General Synod to bear witness.  "This Resolution calls attention to the plight of children suffering under Israel's prolonged military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.  In particular, this resolution names the traumatic situation of children living with constant fear of arrest, detention, and violence at the hands of Israeli forces.  It calls the United Church of Christ to advocate for the human rights of the children of Palestine."

And just today, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that "Israel’s parliament has passed into law a controversial travel ban to keep out people who support boycotts of the country or the Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.  The legislation, which was backed by the ruling right-wing coalition, passed Monday by a vote of 48-26. It allows the government to block entry of nonresidents who publicly call for a boycott or are associated with companies, advocacy groups or other organizations that do so. The legislation defines a boycott to include all calls against Israel, its government, products, or settlements in territories under Israeli military control. The law gives Israel’s interior minister the authority to make exemptions in special circumstances." 

Clearly the organized, moral, disciplined movement to hold occupying governments accountable--and to hold complicit corporations accountable--for the fear and injustice they perpetuate is causing alarm in the halls of power and decision-making.  As it should.

I'm honored to have been asked to attend General Synod 31 in June, and honored to have been invited to participate in a workshop for church leaders building on the divestment and boycott work thus far.  This work is difficult and troublesome in many ways.  But it is work in solidarity with the many who have suffered and died in occupied Palestine, and the many more who continue to ache and work for their freedom.  I go this spring not alone, but with the spiritual brotherhood and sisterhood of Peace United Church.  We walk together for justice, for peace.