• UCC PIN issues statement
  • on the First Anniversary
  • of the
  • Great March of Return

UCC PIN Statement on the First Anniversary of the Great March of Return

“O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you
 ‘Violence!’ and you will not save? (Habakkuk 1.1-2)

On March 30, 2018, Palestinians living in Gaza began a sustained protest against the ongoing military occupation of Palestine, demanding the right of Palestinians and their descendants displaced from their ancestral lands by Israelis to return home. Called the Great March of Return, the protests have focused on the right of return and have also called attention to the on-going blockade of the Gaza Strip which has imposed deplorable living conditions on its Palestinian residents, exacerbated now by the cutting off of humanitarian aid by the United States. These protests have occurred in the context of a stalled peace process, a continued harsh occupation, and unilateral actions by the United States designed to punish Palestinians while advancing a political trajectory in Israel that is increasingly right wing and non-democratic.

The largely peaceful protests have been met by a violent Israeli response resulting in approximately 200 Palestinian deaths and casualties in excess of 23,600 according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. This overwhelming and disproportionate response, while not deterring the protesters, has been denounced by the United Nations General Assembly and human rights groups such as Amnesty International, B’Tselem, and Human Rights Watch. In early March the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, denounced Israel’s dismissal of the Human Rights Council’s report. That report found the vast majority of deaths and injuries caused by Israeli Defense Forces to be unjustified and recommended that its findings be referred to the International Criminal Court for “investigation into alleged international crimes and violations.”

In light of all this, the ancient words of the Prophet, “How long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen,” remind us of the urgent need for justice lest the despair of the oppressed fuel a violent uprising or worse, the permanent demoralization and subservience of the Palestinian people. The United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network, committed to justice for all in a peaceful Palestine and Israel, calls upon all congregations and members of the United Church of Christ to mark this anniversary of the beginning of The Great March of Return by:

§   Encouraging the courageous resilience and witness of Palestinians protesting the occupation of their land by Israel by communicating support for them to our global partners in the region as a sign of our solidarity and commitment to accompaniment.

§   Supporting UCC and Disciples Global Partners* in Palestine and Israel advocating for human rights, providing educational and humanitarian relief, supporting community development, and promoting interfaith understanding and cooperation

§ Calling the Thirty-second General Synod of the United Church of Christ to support the proposed resolution on Global Forced Migration, which includes the rights of Palestinian refugees, at its meeting in June, 2019.

§   Boycotting products made in illegal Israeli settlements, divesting from companies that profit from the Occupation, and calling for accountability in the distribution of U.S foreign aid to Israel

§   Advocating for legislation to be submitted in Congress that would seek to hold Israel accountable for its military detention of Palestinian children

§   Protesting actions by the US government that undermine prospects for a peaceful, negotiated settlement, including the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the closing of US consular services in East Jerusalem, the cutting off of humanitarian aid, and the unilateral endorsement of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights

As members of the United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network we grieve the loss of life by those who have sacrificed much for their bold witness. On this anniversary day, when Israel is once again launching assaults on Gaza, we commit ourselves to a sustained witness for peace with justice for all with the confidence that God who is indeed listening will one day answer and save.

*For a list and description of UCC and Disciples Global partners in Palestine and Israel, and a description of their work, see https://www.globalministries.org/israel_palestine

New Look to UCC PIN Website

Go to the new version of www.UCCPIN.org for more information about the
United Church of Christ Palestinian Israel Network.
The updated website, the result of merging UCC PIN'w earlier sites, is still a work in progress, but take a look. Send comments and suggestions to info@uccpin.org.
Field Reports: Promoting the "How Are the Children" Curriculum in Connecticut

A recent webinar with CT Conference Minister Kent Siladi; a workshop at Super Saturday, a bi-annual event sponsored by the three (soon to become one) Southern New England conferences of CT, MA, and RI; and an upcoming training at the Palestine Museum in Woodbridge, CT . . . these are three of the strategies that t he UCC CT PIN group, one of the UCC PIN's several regional/state/conference groups, has pursued to promote the UCC PIN's new video, "How Are the Children."

The webinar, "How Are the Children: Advocating for the Human Rights of Palestinian Children," provided an opportunity for CT PIN members, the Rev. Dean Ahlberg, the Rev. Nancy McLaren, and the Rev. Allie Perry to explain the passion that motivates them each to care about and work for the human rights of Palestinian children. Each has traveled on several occasions to Palestine and Israel. "Once you see, you cannot unsee," said Allie Perry. They described the "How Are the Children" video and what they each found compelling. Dean Ahlberg, speaking as a father, empathized with the trauma for Palestinian parents unable to protect their children from the abuses of the Israeli military. Nancy McLaren, thinking of her two young children, spoke of the terror that the Israeli military's night raids inflict on Palestinian children. The three acknowledged that those abuses of Palestinian children that the video documents are hard to watch. They emphasized the complicity, as General Minister John Dorhauer names on the video, that we share if we know and fail to act.

They encouraged CT congregations to watch the video and study the curriculum. The webinar can be found on the Facebook page of the Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ. The video can be accessed on the How Are the Children website, www.hatcnow.org.

On Super Saturday, March 16, in a Wilbraham, MA high school, Gay Harter and Allie Perry presented a workshop on How Are the Children to UCC members from CT, MA, and RI congregations. During the de-brief after the viewing of the video, one attendee exclaimed, "How have I not known this?" Gay responded by acknowledging that this attendee is not alone. Many people have been unaware that the $3.8 billion in U.S. tax dollars that Israel receives each year supports military assaults on and detention of Palestinian children. Hence the imperative of the How Are the Children curriculum as a tool for education. In addition to the workshop, Gay and Allie had a table in the Super Saturday "market place." Several stopped by to pick up literature about How Are the Children, to sign up for the UCC PIN, and to taste Palestinian olive oil, olive tapenade, and za'ater from Canaan Fair Trade.

Palestinian Museum US to host workshop on
How Are the Children
April 30
An industrial park on the outskirts of New Haven, in Woodbridge, CT, is an unlikely venue for a museum, but it is home to the first Palestine Museum in the United States. Palestine Museum US will mark its first year anniversary at the end of April.

A few days later, on April 30th, it will host a workshop on How Are the Children, organized and sponsored by the UCC CT PIN. This is a wonderful collaboration, offering participants the opportunity for an introduction to the Museum, founded by Faisel Saleh, and an introduction to the UCC PIN's newly released curriculum.