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Action Alerts   
Stand with 15 Courageous Leaders

  Leaders from fifteen churches and religious organizations - including Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, President of the United Methodist Council of Bishops - have written a letter to the US Congress requesting an end to unconditional U.S. military aid to Israel. They have asked for Congressional hearings to examine Israel's “compliance with applicable U.S. laws and policies.” They are concerned about the well-documented human rights violations against Palestinians being committed with US military aid.

 This is an unprecedented action by religious leaders of major US churches and organizations;
they have sent this balanced and courageous message in answer to God's call to be peacemakers.
 
 
Negative
responses and verbal attacks have begun, from those opposed to such accountability for Israel, and there will be strong opposition to follow.

These leaders must hear from those who appreciate their action - sign the Letter of Support and Thanks below!

OCTOBER 2014
- It is still a good thing to sign the Letter of Support and Thanks, if you would like to. Letting our church leaders know we approve of this action and would support more would be a helpful!



Fill out the form on this page
to add your name to this
Letter of Support and Thanks
Nov 29th:  5200+ signatures
30,000 signatures on all groups' similar support messages

Read below the form the letter these leaders have sent to Congress

Send a message to Congress, quickly and easily with Kairos USA

Read responses to the peacemaking action by these church leaders - both in support and opposition.

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UPDATE, NOV. 21, 2012:
Read the letter
from thirteen churches and organizations to those Jewish groups who recently cancelled interfaith dialogue sessions with their Christian colleagues, because of the letter to Congress.
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Letter of Support and Thanks to
Fifteen Christian Leaders


To:
Rev. Gradye Parsons, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Bishop Mark S. Hanson, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, The United Methodist Church
Peg Birk, National Council of Churches USA
Shan Cretin, American Friends Service Committee
J Ron Byler, Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
Alexander Patico, Orthodox Peace Fellowship
Diane Randall, Friends Committee on National Legislation
Dr. A. Roy Medley, American Baptist Churches, U.S.A.
Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, United Church of Christ
Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. Julia Brown Karimu, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. Dr. James A. Moos, United Church of Christ
Kathy McKneely, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Eli S. McCarthy, PhD, Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Dear Church Leaders:

Thank you for your recent letter to the members of the United States Congress asking them to hold Israel accountable in its use of U.S. military aid.  We agree that Congress should make the disbursement of U.S. military assistance to Israel contingent on the Israeli government's compliance with applicable U.S. laws and policies.  We join in your call for Congressional hearings to examine Israel's compliance with such laws.

We gratefully acknowledge that your letter reflects the positions of your respective churches and organizations regarding human rights violations by Israelis against Palestinians, the expansion of Israeli settlements in occupied territory, and the right of Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security. We agree wholeheartedly with your statement that unconditional US military aid contributes to "the deteriorating conditions in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories which threaten to lead the region further away from the realization of a just peace."

We encourage you to remain steadfast in the course you have begun, despite the verbal attacks that have been leveled and the opposition that is certain to continue in response to your courageous action. Please know that you have our full support and lasting appreciation for the exemplary leadership you have shown.

With respect and gratitude,
(The undersigned)

Nov 29th:  5200+ signatures
 

 

Christian Leaders call for end to unconditional
US military aid to Israel


Dear Member of Congress,

We write to you as Christian leaders representing U.S. churches and religious organizations committed to seeking a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians. Our organizations have been deeply involved in this pursuit for decades, inspired by the call and promise of Jesus Christ who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

In response to our Christian call to be peacemakers, we have worked for decades to support both Israelis and Palestinians in their desire to live in peace and well-being. We have worked alongside our Palestinian Christian sisters and brothers to help build a peaceful and resilient Palestinian civil society by supporting hospitals, schools, clinics, and social service agencies. These ministries include cooperative efforts with Israelis and Palestinians as well as with Jews, Muslims, and other neighbors here in the United States. Through our presence in the region, and regular visits to our partners there, we see first-hand the impacts of the conflict on both Palestinians and Israelis and hear from them directly about the reality of their lives.

Through this direct experience we have witnessed the pain and suffering of Israelis as a result of Palestinian actions and of Palestinians as a result of Israeli actions. In addition to the horror and loss of life from rocket attacks from Gaza and past suicide bombings, we have witnessed the broad impact that a sense of insecurity and fear has had on Israeli society.

We have also witnessed widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinians, including killing of civilians, home demolitions and forced displacement, and restrictions on Palestinian movement, among others. We recognize that each party—Israeli and Palestinian—bears responsibilities for its actions and we therefore continue to stand against all violence regardless of its source. Our stand against violence is complemented by our commitment to the rights of all Israelis, as well as all Palestinians, to live in peace and security.

It is this experience and these commitments that lead us to write to you today to express our grave concern about the deteriorating conditions in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories which threaten to lead the region further away from the realization of a just peace.

Unfortunately, unconditional U.S. military assistance to Israel has contributed to this deterioration, sustaining the conflict and undermining the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians. This is made clear in the most recent 2011 State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, which details widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinian civilians, many of which involve the misuse of U.S.-supplied weapons.

(Weapons in this instance include “crowd control” items such as tear gas. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-74) which is included in the US Foreign Military Financing regulations stipulates that “not later than 90 days after enactment of this act and 6 months thereafter, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations detailing any crowd control items, including tear gas, made available with appropriated funds or through export licenses to foreign security forces that the Secretary of State has credible information have repeatedly used excessive force to repress peaceful, lawful, and organized dissent.” )

Accordingly, we urge an immediate investigation into possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act which respectively prohibit assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations and limit the use of U.S. weapons to “internal security” or “legitimate self-defense.”

(While this letter focuses on US-Israel relations and the Israel-Palestine conflict, these are laws that we believe should be enforced in all instances regardless of location. All allegations regarding the misuse of US supplied arms should be investigated.)

More broadly, we urge Congress to undertake careful scrutiny to ensure that our aid is not supporting actions by the government of Israel that undermine prospects for peace. We urge Congress to hold hearings to examine Israel’s compliance, and we request regular reporting on compliance and the withholding of military aid for non-compliance.

In addition to specific rights violations, we see a troubling and consistent pattern of disregard by the government of Israel for U.S. policies that support a just and lasting peace. Specifically, repeated demands by the U.S. government that Israel halt all settlement activity have been ignored. Since 1967, every U.S. administration has decried Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as obstacles to peace. Despite this stance, Israel continues to expand its settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, claiming territory that under international law and U.S. policy should belong to a future Palestinian state. The Oslo peace process, which began in 1993, was publicly promoted as leading Israelis and Palestinians to a just peace based on a two-state solution. Instead, since 1993, the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has more than doubled. Rights violations resulting from Israeli settlement activity include separate and unequal legal systems for Palestinians and settlers, confiscation of Palestinian land and natural resources for the benefit of settlers, and violence by settlers against Palestinians.

According to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem and the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there has been a dramatic rise in settler attacks against Palestinians this year. They report that these attacks are often intended to drive Palestinians from areas the settlers wish to take over, and that Israeli authorities have failed to take significant action to stop the violence or hold the perpetrators accountable. We believe that these actions directly undermine peace efforts and threaten, rather than support, Israel’s long-term security interests.

We want to be clear that we recognize that Israel faces real security threats and that it has both a right and a duty to protect both the state and its citizens. However, the measures that it uses to protect itself and its citizens, as in the case with any other nation, must conform to international humanitarian and human rights law.

As Christian leaders in the United States, it is our moral responsibility to question the continuation of unconditional U.S. financial assistance to the government of Israel. Realizing a just and lasting peace will require this accountability, as continued U.S. military assistance to Israel -- offered without conditions or accountability -- will only serve to sustain the status quo and Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories.

We request, therefore, that Congress hold Israel accountable to these standards by making the disbursement of U.S. military assistance to Israel contingent on the Israeli government’s compliance with applicable U.S. laws and policies.

As Israel is the single largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid since World War II, it is especially critical for Israel to comply with the specific U.S. laws that regulate the use of U.S.-supplied weapons. We also encourage Congress to support inclusive, comprehensive, and robust regional diplomacy to secure a just and lasting peace that will benefit Israelis, Palestinians, and all the peoples of the region, and the world.

With respect and gratitude, we offer you our prayers.

Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Mark S. Hanson,
Presiding Bishop Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Bishop Rosemarie Wenner,
President, Council of Bishops, The United Methodist Church
Peg Birk,
Transitional General Secretary, National Council of Churches USA
Shan Cretin,
General Secretary, American Friends Service Committee
J Ron Byler,
Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
Alexander Patico,
North American Secretary Orthodox Peace Fellowship
Diane Randall,
Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation
Dr. A. Roy Medley,
General Secretary, American Baptist Churches, U.S.A.
Rev. Geoffrey A. Black,
General Minister and President, United Church of Christ
Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins,
General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. Julia Brown Karimu,
President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ),, Division of Overseas Ministries, Co-Executive, Global Ministries (UCC and Disciples)
Rev. Dr. James A. Moos,
Executive Minister, United Church of Christ, Wider, Church Ministries, Co-Executive, Global Ministries (UCC and Disciples)
Kathy McKneely,
Acting Director, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Eli S. McCarthy, PhD,
Justice and Peace Director, Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM)

Fill out the form on this page to add your name to this
Letter of Support and Thanks 

Send a message to Congress, quickly and easily with Kairos USA

Read responses to the peacemaking action by these church leaders - both in support and opposition.

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November 21, 2012

Dear Colleagues,

Over the course of the last several days, we have been reminded of the tremendous cost of violence and the urgency of finding a peaceful resolution to the escalating conflict between Israel and Gaza. We lament what these developments mean for all the injured, for those who mourn the death of loved ones and all who live in fear of escalating violence. We pledge to pray and work for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

We value our interfaith relationships with you, our Jewish brothers and sisters, and wish to respond affirmatively to your call for a high level meeting in order “to determine a more positive path forward for our communities.” We remain committed to the issues raised in our letter to Congress. At the same time we remain no less committed to deepening and strengthening our relationships even when we disagree. Face to face dialogue, as lifted up in your letter, can be a starting point in seeking to establish a way forward. Given the both supportive and critical responses to our letter and the concerns expressed for Jewish-Christian relationships, we intend to share this letter with others after you have received it.

We believe that it is important for us to differentiate between the signatories of the October 5 letter, and the participants in the two national Jewish-Christian roundtables. It is our hope that those two tables can resume their important work while we work to initiate the dialogue for which you have called and to which we are responding positively in this letter. Even further, we acknowledge that amongst us as signatories, there are varying degrees of relationship between the churches and organizations we represent and Jewish partners. As we have discussed the possibilities, we have come to believe that the
questions of who should be convened and for what purposes are best addressed in dialogue together. As a next step, we suggest that we each name 2-3 leaders from our respective communities who could meet with one another in order to give shape to a possible meeting with the goal of promoting better understanding between us.

We are appreciative of the numerous ways in which many of our organizations and yours work together in interfaith contexts and in public policy on social issues of common concern. It is our hope that as we tend to the very real differences between us, we also seek ways to identify and build upon the common ground we share.

Sincerely,

American Baptist Churches, U.S.A.
American Friends Service Committee
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
National Council of Churches USA
Orthodox Peace Fellowship
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
The United Methodist Church
United Church of Christ
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Fill out the form on this page
to add
your name to the Letter of Support and Thanks.


Read the original letter these church leaders sent to Congress in Oct. 2012.

Read responses to the peacemaking action by these church leaders - both in support and opposition.


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