In this issue:

  • Step Five: Examine Christian Zionism by Allie Perry
  • 3rd in the Series of UCC PIN Webinars: Christian Zionism
  • UCC PIN Steering Committee Transitions
  • Defense of Children International - Palestine Premiers New Documentary: Caging Childhood
  • Speakers Series with Reconstructionist Rabbis
  • Breaking the Stories, curated by the Rev. Loren McGrail
Resolution Implementation Wheel
Step Five: Examine Christian Zionism
by Allie Perry
It is tempting to think of Christian Zionism primarily, even exclusively, in its extreme expressions. John Hagee with his organization Christians United for Israel for one example, or Tim LaHaye and his Left Behind series of novels for another. But the fifth step in the “Declaration for a Just Peace Between Palestine and Israel” Implementation Wheel, Examine Christian Zionism, invites us to look at ourselves, as a mainline denomination. In the words of the Synod resolution, this step engages us in “examining critically our use and interpretations of Scriptures as well as liturgies and hymns that equate ancient Biblical Israel with the modern state in ways that promote settler colonialism and the dispossession of Palestinian land, rights, and cultural expressions.” 
The Scriptures are not a real estate deed, a title to the land. But as we well know, some read them as if they were. Daoud Nassar tells of settlers, guns in hands, attacking the Tent of Nations, his ancestral vineyard just south of Bethlehem, and claiming “God gave us this land. It is ours not yours.” I remember sitting in the tasting room of a very different vineyard in the Israeli West Bank settlement of Psagot as Miri, a representative of the international desk of the Psagot council, explained that most of the settlers “descended from the tribe of Judah.” While born there herself, Miri’s parents were from England. But nevertheless, she embraced the narrative that most Israeli settlers were Jews in a continuous line from ancient Israelites, returning to their God-given homeland.
The passage in Deuteronomy 26:1-11 that includes the origin story, “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor. . .” might be used as as a proof text for such settler claims. It comes up twice in our current Year C of the Common Lectionary: the first Sunday in Lent and Thanksgiving. Once a favorite of mine, this text now, after my having witnessed Israeli appropriation and annexation of Palestinian lands, causes me pause. The chapter begins, “When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess. . .” Twice more in the text, there are variations of this claim: “I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” And again, “God brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”
What lens of interpretation do we as Christians, and especially those who are preachers, bring to this story? How do we reflect on the concept of a 'promised land' and ‘a promised people,' especially in the light of Puritans and other settler colonialists in this country adopting these same metaphors? Might we be implicitly conflating Biblical Israel and the modern state, if we are not explicitly distinguishing them? 

Step 5 of the Resolution Implementation Wheel invites us to examine questions such as these. As a resource for our examination, UCC PIN is offering its third in the series of four webinars, this one on the topic of Christian Zionism in the Mainline Church and American Civil Religion (details below). Also for other resources, see the listing in Breaking the Stories for several webinars on Christian Zionism.
Third in the Series of UCC PIN Webinars:
Christian Zionism in the Mainline Church and American Civil Religion
Wednesday, Jan. 26, noon ET
UCC PIN is continuing our Webinar series on Implementing Declaration for a Just Peace Between Palestine and Israel on Wednesday, January 26th at noon ET. This third webinar in the four-part series is entitled "Christian Zionism in the Mainline Church and American Civil Religion."

The three panelists are:

Don Wagner, recently retired National Program Director for Friends of Sabeel North America, a retired professor of Middle East Studies, and universally acknowledged as a leading authority on Christian Zionism.
Peter Miano, Executive Director, Society for Biblical Studies, specialist in the history of the Middle East, and a leader of socially responsible travel to Palestine and Israel for over 25 years.
Alex Awad, Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace, retired former pastor of East Jerusalem Baptist Church and retired Professor at Bethlehem Bible College in Palestine. 

Michael Spath, Indiana Center for Middle East Peace, will again be moderating the conversation.

To register in advance for this webinar, go here.

The fourth and final webinar in the series on "A Human Rights Framework for a Political Solution" is scheduled for Wednesday, February 2nd at noon ET. More details coming.
UCC PIN Steering Committee Transitions
The UCC PIN steering committee said ‘good-bye’ to four members who this December rotated off the committee -- Pam Beck, Tom Beilman, Laura Martin, and Michael Poage -- with gratitude for their commitment to justice in Palestine and Israel and their contributions to PIN's work. Special thanks to Tom Beilman for putting his heart and soul and leadership into the creation of our How Are the Children? film and to Pam Beck, who first connected with UCC PIN when she organized the PIN prayer vigil for the 2015 Cleveland Synod and who kept PIN connected to the work of the Cleveland Jewish Voice for Peace chapter that Pam helped to start.
Introducing New UCC PIN Steering Committee Members
With the start of 2022, UCC PIN welcomes four new steering committee members: Barbara Kershner Daniel, Venson Jordan, Andrew Long-Higgins, and Shari Prestemon. 
Barbara Kershner Daniel
The Rev. Barbara Kershner Daniel has served as senior pastor of Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ, Frederick, MD since 2006. A native of Philadelphia, she is a graduate of Catawba College, Salisbury, North Carolina and holds two degrees from Lancaster Theological Seminary. Previously, she served for 13 years as senior pastor of St. Paul’s UCC in Fleetwood, after serving four years as its associate pastor. 

She has served on many United Church of Christ boards and committees including the Executive Council of the UCC, Restructure and Governance Committees, and the Pension Boards of the UCC, and Wider Church Ministries of the UCC. She coordinated Youth@Synod in 2017 and 2019. 

From 1996-2001, she served on the Global Ministries.  It was as a member and chair of that board that she became passionate about the Middle East.  That interest and passion for justice in the region continues to this day.  

Barbara is married to the Rev. Kenneth Daniel, President and CEO of United Church Homes of Ohio and has two adult sons.  
Venson Jordan
The Rev. Venson Jordan is an internationally recognized author of five books: Let Meditation Be Your Medicine, The Centripetal Nature of Truth, Meta-Morphic, The Timeless Life of Thelonious, and the popular contemporary novel -The Rebel Marcus Madison.

He is a native Washingtonian who studied health, biology, and music at the University of The District of Columbia. Venson received a Doctorate of Natural Healthcare and Regenerative Healing from the School of The Prophets Institute at Jerusalem, Israel. For over 20 years (prior to Covid), he has traveled to Israel and Palestine annually, often leading tours.

He has more than fifty years of practice in the martial arts and thirty years of experience in the field of health and wellness.

Venson is a site manager for a Southern New England Conference retreat center, a vice president of The Rhode Island State Council of Churches, and chair of the Advocacy and Justice Commission for the Rhode Island state Council of Churches. He has published several articles about advocacy and justice. 
Andrew Long-Higgins
Andrew Long-Higgins graduated in 2012 from Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with honors, Andrew served as a global mission intern (GMI) with Global Ministries. As a GMI, he served with the Joint Advocacy Initiative in Beit Sahour, West Bank, and the Forum for Development, Culture, and Dialogue (FDCD) in Beirut, Lebanon.
After completing his term as a GMI, Andrew obtained a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) with a policy concentration in international security policy and a policy specialization in international conflict resolution.
Andrew currently serves as the Special Assistant and Advisor to the Executive Director at the Center for Peace Diplomacy (CPD), an independent and non-partisan mediation strategy non-profit, and is based in New Orleans, LA. At CPD, he is responsible for orchestrating CPD’s track II mediation process for Syria, runs CPD’s internship program, and is responsible for producing CPD’s primary geopolitical analytic material.
Shari Prestemon
The Rev. Shari Prestemon has served as Conference Minister of the Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ (UCC) since October 2013. Previously, she served local UCC congregations in Wheaton, Illinois and Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and, from 2000-2013, was the Executive Director at the UCC’s Back Bay Mission. Shari received her Bachelor’s Degree from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa and her Master of Divinity from Chicago Theological Seminary.

Special recognitions include the Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award from Chicago Theological Seminary (2008) and a Distinguished Service Alumni Award from Luther College in 2014. She received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Heidelberg University (Tiffin, Ohio) in May 2010.

Shari has traveled four times to Israel-Palestine on various UCC-related study trips, meeting with Global Ministries partners in the region. In 2017 she led a delegation of Minnesota Conference UCC members there to consider the possibility of divesting from all companies profiting from the occupation of Palestine. The Conference later approved such divestment and fully divested that same year. 
Defense of Children International - Palestine Premiers New Documentary:
Caging Childhood
On World Children's Day, November 21, 2021 Defense of Children International - Palestine (DCI-P) premiered "Caging Childhood: Palestinian Children in Israel's Military Detention System." The 20-minute documentary features the experiences of three Palestinian children living in the West Bank -- Osama, age 16; Islam, age 17, and Qusai, age 17 -- as they recount the stories of their respective arrests and detentions in Israeli prisons, and the interrogations, abuse, and solitary confinement the Israeli military detention system inflicted on them. Clearly this is no way to treat a child. As Manfred Nowak, former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, says in the film, "Children should never be tried before military courts."

DCI-P is one of the six NGO's that Israel has recently criminalized, alleging that they are terrorist organizations. Their 'crime'? Documenting, as Caging Childhood does, Israel's human rights crimes.

You can access Caging Childhood here
Speaker Series with Reconstructionist Rabbis
Rabbi Brian Walt, a panelist on our recent UCC PIN webinar about apartheid and an endorser of this summer’s General Synod resolution, has joined with Reconstructionist colleagues to organize an upcoming series of learning opportunities led by Reconstructionist rabbis on Israel/Palestine. The schedule and Zoom link for joining are below.

Here is how the organizers explain their mission: “We oppose Israel’s domination of the Palestinian people in all its forms and hope to deepen our relationship with Jews and Palestinians seeking a future of justice and equality in Israel/Palestine. We welcome those who consider themselves Zionists, non-Zionists, and anti-Zionists, and those unsure about how they define themselves, even as we explore the meanings of these terms. We are committed to conducting discussions with open hearts and minds, respectful listening, and acknowledgement of our shared commitment to the Jewish values of tzedek ve-chesed (justice and compassion) for all.”

Each one and a half hour session is free and includes lecture and discussion. Register here via Zoom.
Schedule (all sessions are 8:00-9:30 p.m. EST, 7:00-8:30 p.m. CST, 5:00-6:30 p.m. PST)
· Wednesday, January 12 - Rabbi Rebecca Alpert, “Reconstructionism Without Zionism”
· Wednesday, January 26 - Sarah Brammer-Shlay, Solomon Hoffman, and Rachel Kipnes, "We find ourselves in Tears": A Conversation About Israel/Palestine with Reconstructionist Rabbinical Students
· Wednesday, February 9 - Rabbi Brant Rosen, “Decolonizing Jewish Liturgy”
· Tuesday, February 22 - Rabbi Toba Spitzer, “A New Conversation: A Land for All”
· Wednesday, March 9 - Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman, “Rethinking Israel Education: Teaching Jewish Kids to Think Critically about Israel/Palestine”
· Wednesday, March 30 - Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari, “Becoming an Abolitionist: Antiracism and Antizionism”
· Tuesday, April 12 - Rabbi David Teutsch, “History and Challenge: Reconstructionism, Zionism, and the Two-State Solution”
· Tuesday, April 26 - Rabbi Brian Walt, “Nakba Denial and Teshuva/Reparations”
· Wednesday, May 11 - Open Conversation
For speaker bios please visit this website.
Breaking The Stories: January 2022
curated by the Rev. Loren McGrail,
UCC PIN Steering Committee
Woman selling strawberries in Gaza
KaRaM OuDa Photography
The ‘free world’ cannot eulogize Desmond Tutu’s greatness and support Israeli apartheid
Archibishop Tutu and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter during a visit to the West Bank village of Bilin, August 27, 2009
(Photo by Issam Rimawi/APA Images) 
We, members of the Board of the U.S. based Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace (PCAP) join millions of freedom-loving people all over the world in mourning the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He was a powerful, joyful, and gentle voice for the oppressed not only in his native land, but everywhere. Through the same lens that witnessed the long struggle for justice of his own people against apartheid in South Africa, he looked at Palestine, and his brief tours of Palestinian communities aching under the weight of Israeli tyranny quickly led him to condemn Israeli apartheid. His understanding of the essence of the Christian message as one that actively sides with the downtrodden drove him to support the Palestinian boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement. We celebrate his life and the legacy of speaking truth to power that he leaves behind. Rest in peace and power, Rev. Desmond Tutu. Here
2021 in review: Business as usual in DC, but Palestine activists scored huge wins
Protesters Converged in Washington DC for the National March for Palestine, May 2021 (Photo: Nuha Maharoof / IG Sri.Lankan)
This year was marked by a number of a political setbacks, but it also produced inspiring victories. As it comes to an end, we thought we’d take a look back on 2021. In addition to looking at Washington’s support for Israel’s violence, we wanted to take stock of what Palestine activists accomplished through their tireless work and unwavering commitment to human rights. 
Want some good news? Here are the top BDS victories of 2021
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 was a year of accelerated boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigning, successful grassroots actions and significant legal victories for Palestinian rights.
Pension funds dumped Israeli firms, cultural figures refused to cross the picket line and a major ice cream maker pulled its products from illegal Israeli settlements. Here
More Resources

2021 was the deadliest year since 2014, Israel killed 319 Palestinians. In oPt 5-year record in house demolitions: 895 Palestinians lost their homes Here

The Palestinian Six Organizations Officially Demand that Israeli Authorities Reveal the Evidence Here

Desmond Tutu Was Badass by Michael Spath Here

Illinois’ state pension board will divest from Unilever over Ben and Jerry’s decision to stop selling ice cream in West Bank Here

Palestinian prisoners launch boycott of Israeli military courts Here

Greek Orthodox Patriarch: Israeli Extremists Threaten Christian Presence in Jerusalem Here

A deadly trash trade is poisoning Palestinians in the West Bank Here
Christian Zionism Resources
Christian Zionism Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer and Munther Issac Here

Understanding Christian Zionism: A Racist Theology Influencing US Policy on Palestine Here

‘Christian Zionism: What Is It, How Does it Impact on the Palestinian Question, and How Do We Combat It?’ (7 Nov 2021) Here

Christian Zionism: Road Map to Armageddon by Stephen Sizer Here
 Media Resources

"New Episode of A Matter of Faith: A Presbyterian Podcast. We are celebrating Epiphany by being in solidarity with our Palestinian siblings. Simon and Lee welcome Noushin Framke, justice activist, to the show to touch on all the questions and comments we have received surrounding the conflicts in Israel-Palestine." Here

Voices from Bethlehem: Christian Unity in the Birthplace of Jesus Here
Palestine solidarity in the City of Brotherly Love Here