In this issue:

  • "Declaration on a Just Peace Between Palestine and Israel": Proposed General Synod Resolution
  • Upcoming Indiana Center for Middle East Peace Programs
  • Take Action Now
  • Advent and Christmas Resources
  • News from the Field:
  • Central Pacific PIN Group
  • Middle East Committee of Westmoreland Church
  • Breaking the Stories, Issue #17, curated by the Rev. Loren McGrail
Declaration on a Just Peace Between Palestine and Israel
Cry for Hope, (www.cryforhope.org), released by Kairos Palestine and Global Kairos for Justice in July, is a call for decisive action that is “bold,” “faithful,” and “resolute.” In alignment with that call, the UCC PIN has written a resolution entitled “Declaration on a Just Peace Between Palestine and Israel,” for the UCC’s virtual General Synod 33 in July 2021. 

“The crisis facing Palestinians has been decades in the making,” observed UCC PIN Steering Committee member the Rev. John Thomas, “but the abandonment of any sense of balance by the Trump administration in dealing with the conflict, an approach endorsed and promoted by many evangelical Christians, leaves Palestinians today, along with their aspirations for the future, in profound jeopardy. 

John Thomas went on to explain, “The proposed resolution, building on years of General Synod actions and in response to the pleas of our Palestinian partners, recognizes that the time has come to boldly affirm that the oppression of Palestinians is a sin that fundamentally contradicts the Gospel. Silence in the face of this injustice calls into question the integrity of our Christian faith.”

The UCC PIN has not been silent and in the face of intensifying injustice we offer the Declaration which articulates, as a statement of faith, what we affirm as requisites for a just peace and what we reject. Inspired by earlier faith declarations, such as the Barmen Declaration of 1934 and the 1982 Belhar Confession of South Africa’s Dutch Reformed Mission Church, UCC PIN hopes that this Declaration will provide, as the resolution’s summary states, a plumb line to guide our denomination’s support for the aspirations of our mission partners in the region and our advocacy with the United States' government.

UCC PIN is currently circulating the resolution to local congregations, urging study of the document and inviting endorsements to secure the six we need by the January 1st deadline for submission. To receive the text of the resolution and the packet of materials for congregations considering endorsement, please email UCC PIN steering committee chair, Allie Perry at allie.perry@gmail.com.
UCC PIN Co-Sponsors Upcoming Indiana Center for Middle East Peace Programs: Mark Your Calendars
Garth Hewitt Concert and Conversation - Sunday, Dec. 6th, 2 pm ET
To commemorate the anniversary of the UN”s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace (ICMEP) is hosting a Zoom Concert and Conversation with Garth Hewitt, balladeer, human rights activist, and Anglican priest. An Honorary Canon of St. George’s Anglican Cathedral in East Jerusalem, Garth has recorded more than 40 albums, highlighting the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, the plight of Dalits in India, and the freedom struggle of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. In 2019 he released his album, My Name is Palestine, whose title song was inspired by this Sliman Mansour painting which Garth saw when visiting Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel. 
For more information and to sign up for the concert go here.
"Becoming Political Actors: Programs and Strategies for Liberating Palestine as We Enter the Biden Administration":
Webinar, Sunday, Dec. 13, 3 pm ET
While we can breathe a little more easily now with a Biden-Harris administration, we also know that we will have to be as vigilant, passionate, persistent, and vocal as ever in advocating for Palestinian rights. After the death of the two-state solution and the willingness of Arab regimes to normalize with Israel, what strategy is necessary to continue our struggle? “Becoming Political Actors” will offer critical perspectives on goals and strategy as we enter into the Biden administration.

Panelists for the webinar are: Jeff Halper (ICAHD), Huwaida Arraf (Palestinian-American human rights attorney, co-founder of International Solidarity Movement), Beth Miller (JVP Action), and Awad Abdelfattah (Palestinian co-founder of One Democratic State Campaign).  Civil Rights attorney (and friend to UCC PIN) Robert Herbst will moderate the panel, and UCC PIN partner the Indiana Center for Middle East Peace (ICMEP) is the host. To register in advance for this meeting, go here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email about joining the meeting

Sponsors for the webinar, along with ICMEP include: Mondoweiss, Jewish Voice for Peace Action, ICAHD, and One Democratic State, as well as MennoPin, IPMN of the Presbyterian Church, UCC PIN, and others.
Take Action NOW
Send an Email to thank MSNBC

On November 19, MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin (Live with Ayman Mohyeldin), reported on Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s controversial visit to Israel and an illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank. For that report, Mohyeldin interviewed Mohammed El-Kurd, Palestinian poet and writer, now studying in the U.S., about the settlers who in 2009, when Mohammed was 10, took over half of his family’s house in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. They have continued to occupy it since then and are now taking over the rest of the house, evicting Mohammad's family from their own home. As a part of the news story, Mohyeldin showed two clips from the movie, My Neighborhood, featuring Mohammed as a child when settlers first took over the front part of his home.
Front of the El-Kurd House, Sheikh Jarrah, 2011
 Photo by Allie Perry
As we know all too well, it is rare to see a Palestinian given on-air time at all, much less to describe so vividly and painfully the multitude losses that settlers have inflicted on his family and so many other Palestinian families. Please email MSNBC MSNBCTVinfo@nbcuni.com to thank them for their coverage. 

As Jeff Wright from Disciples PIN wrote, “You don’t have to say much. Just a word of thanks.” Jeff also included these words with his note of gratitude:  "Please, in spite of the overwhelming criticism you will receive regarding this report, allow Mohyeldin to stay on this story. MSNBC will find itself on the right side of history as it points its listeners to international law and the excesses of American exceptionalism."

To watch Ayman Mohyeldin’s coverage, go here.

To watch the Just Vision documentary, My Neighborhood, go here.
Tell the State Department: Dismantle antisemitism and protect human rights
Jewish Voice for Peace has launched a petition campaign, “Dismantle Antisemitism and Protect Human Rights.” This campaign is all the more critical following Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s November 19 statement condemning anti-Zionism and the BDS movement as antisemitic and directing the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism to create a blacklist of organizations that support BDS. (See Pompeo’s press release in Breaking the Stories).

The petition reads in part: “Labeling these human rights organizations antisemitic is not about Jewish safety – it's a deeply harmful attempt to weaponize antisemitism for political gain and to silence and censor Palestinians and Palestinian rights activism. This move is in direct opposition to the fight against real antisemitism and the struggle for human rights and safety for all people."

To read the full text of the petition and to add your name, go here.
Advent and Christmas Resources
Holy Land Advent Calendar 

The American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem (AFEDJ) have developed a creative online Holy Land Advent calendar offering a glimpse into the lives of Holy Land Christians and the humanitarian ministries of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. Each door for the days of Advent opens to a photo or brief video providing a perspective on the current-day followers of Jesus in the place where he was born, lived, and ministered. Click here to access the calendar which launches December 1st.
Kairos Palestine Christmas Alert 2020
The 2020 Kairos Christmas Alert lifts up this powerful liberative message: "Still, the only hope of the world is in the light of a star that neither tanks nor fighter planes nor separation walls nor huge search lights can keep from penetrating the darkness." To access Kairos Palestine's Christmas Alert 2020, go here.
Gifts from Palestine

The tradition of gift-giving for the Christmas holidays offers yet another way for us to support Palestinians: buy Palestinian products and crafts.  
Through Canaan Fair Trade you can order olive oil, za’atar and other grains, condiments and more, produced by more than 2,000 artisan family farms, spanned across 52 villages, organized in cooperatives and represented by the Palestine Fair Trade Association (PFTA). Here.
The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) through their store offers a plethora of Palestinian products: embroidery, ceramics, olive wood carvings, Hebron glass, books, and more. Here.
Advent Poem
by the Rev. Loren McGrail

Come Human One, advent our lives.
Come like a thief in the night and disturb
our sleep, our comfortable realities that say
you can have peace without justice,
that say taking someone else’s land or life is not our concern,
that says it is Ok to violate human rights,
break international laws.

Break into our lives, Son of Man,
challenge our certainties,
make us vulnerable to the urgency of your Call
for a new Jerusalem, a Beloved Community here and now
in this place where the streets still run with the blood of the martyrs, in this place all call holy, all call home.

Help us, unexpected One, to become insomniacs
to keep awake, alert, and watchful
for the ways that your coming can be thwarted, obscured, or denied
by theologies that privilege certain groups as Chosen
by peace processes that deny the right of return,
that don’t demand the freezing of settlement building
or walls that separate and divide.

Christ the thief, come take away our fears and insecurities.
Prepare our hearts, our minds, our spirits
for your indwelling presence
your incarnation as a baby, a refugee,
our brother, our redeemer.

May we become uneasy and alive
unafraid and able to hear angels announcing or singing.
May we become your advent lights
of hope, peace, joy, and love.
Reports from Regional and Congregational PIN Groups
Chapter Report from the Central Pacific Conference Palestine Israel Network
by the Rev. Catherine L. Alder, Chair, CPC PIN

Our CPC PIN has been hard at work teaching about and advocating for Palestinian human rights.

We are partnered with the YWCA of Jerusalem and through them stay connected to what's happening on the ground in Palestine. Several of our members have traveled there with sewing machines to teach a new self-sustaining skill to women from a near-by refugee camp. Now through ZOOM calls we are working to promote and support new YWCA projects. The YWCA wants to create a playground in a safe space for mothers and children away from the nearby settlement. The children in the refugee camps need computers, health kits, and study supplies. The YWCA seeks support with scholarships for elementary school students and funding for internships for students recently graduated from college. Our CPC PIN is seeking a grant to film these various YWCA projects to bring the work into the living rooms of Americans and garner more support. 
CPC PIN sponsored Wael Elasady, a Palestinian refugee, holding a Knowledge Camp at the annual meeting of the Central Pacific Conference. He told his family's story of being burned out in 1948, becoming refugees in Syria to survive, and some of the family immigrating to the USA. To watch him tell his story, go here.

We have shown the UCC PIN's video "How Are The Children?" (hatcnow.org) in an online webinar. We have joined the boycott of Pillsbury products because of their factory functioning in an Israeli settlement on stolen Palestinian land. We are urging people not to buy their products specifically around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Members of this leadership group attended a board meeting of General Mills, the parent company of Pillsbury, listed in the United Nations' top 100 companies breaking international law. 
Follow-up about The Objector Film Salon

On Sunday, November 15, the Middle East Committee of the Westmoreland UCC Church partnered with Voices From the Holy Land to sponsor an online film discussion of the documentary, "Objector," the story of Atalya Ben-Abba, a young Israeli woman who refused military service. Westmoreland’s associate pastor, the Rev. Kaeley McEvoy moderated the discussion between Atalya and the film’s director Molly Stuart. Over 165 people attended the virtual salon, for which UCC PIN was a co-sponsor. To access the discussion, go here.

Atalya Ben-Abba has created a petition calling on Israel to stop imprisoning Israeli youth who refuse to enlist. To sign the petition, go here.
November 2020

curated by the Rev. Loren McGrail
Painting by Sliman Mansour
Marking of Country of Origin

         Today, the Department of State is initiating new guidelines to ensure that country of origin markings for Israeli and Palestinian goods are consistent with our reality-based foreign policy approach. In accordance with this announcement, all producers within areas where Israel exercises the relevant authorities – most notably Area C under the Oslo Accords - will be required to mark goods as “Israel”, “Product of Israel”, or “Made in Israel” when exporting to the United States. This approach recognizes that Area C producers operate within the economic and administrative framework of Israel and their goods should be treated accordingly. This update will also eliminate confusion by recognizing that producers in other parts of the West Bank are for all practical purposes administratively separate and that their goods should be marked accordingly. Here.
Tomorrow My Family and Neighbors May Be Forced From Our Homes by Israeli Settlers  
The settlers have been trying to push us from our Jerusalem home since 2009. Now they might succeed.
By Mohammed El-Kurd
Mohammed El-Kurd (left) with his father, in 2011, at their Sheikh Jarrah home
(Photo by Allie Perry)
Ending the ‘racial contract’ in Israel/Palestine
Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images
Racism plays a huge role in how Israel is able to get away with apartheid and ethnic cleansing without facing major backlash from the international community. White supremacy is the political system that has shaped our world for hundreds of years, and this is why racism is not seriously examined or acknowledged by major world powers in the Global North.
Charles Mills, a political philosopher, theorized the notion of the racial contract. The racial contract is a heuristic tool in helping to understand the racialized context of Israel/Palestine. Here.
‘New York Times’ reports that Jewish donors shape Democrats’ regressive position on Israel
This weekend the New York Times breaks one of the biggest taboos, describing the responsibility of Jewish donors for the Democratic Party’s slavish support for Israel. Nathan Thrall’s groundbreaking piece repeats a lot of data we’ve reported here and says in essence that it really is about the Benjamins, as Rep. Ilhan Omar said so famously.

The donor class of the party is overwhelmingly Jewish, and Jews are still largely wed to Zionism– that’s the nut. Here.
Legislation Targeting Advocacy for Palestinian Rights
The right to stand for justice is under attack. Politicians are pushing unconstitutional laws to stop the movement for Palestinian freedom and shield Israel from criticism. Find out about this legislative attack, its impact, and how to protect the right to engage in BDS and other forms of activism. Here.
Other Resources

Ivanka, Engel and Halbfinger– all punch Palestinians on their way out the door Here.

UN reaffirms West Bank, east Jerusalem not part of sovereign Israel Here.

Seeking Restart With Biden, Palestinians Eye End to Prisoner Payments Here.

How Trump and Netanyahu made American antisemitism come alive Here.

Prof. Richard Falk: I Strongly Recommend Ramzy Baroud’s Book on Palestinian Prisoners Here.

BDS condemns Washington's anti-Semitism accusations Here.

Joe Biden ‘no saviour’ of the Palestinians Here.

MSNBC Live news report with Mohammed Al-Kurd from Sheik Jarrah Here.
“The Middle East might seem very far and foreign to Americans, but I want the American people to interrogate where their tax dollars are going and what they are funding. I want them to think: Do I really want to be sending $3.8 billion a year in military aid to fund home demolitions and home takeovers?

PA’s gift to Biden is return to failed strategy Here.

Media Resources

Watch: What will Joe Biden mean for Palestine?

Annexation and the Aftermath of the U.S. Election: Analysis & Expectations (webinar Salem Barahmeh (PIPD);Diana Buttu (IMEU) and Hagai El-Ad (B’Tselem) with Lara Friedman (FMEP) Here.

Israel plans to expand settlement cutting off Jerusalem from West Bank towns (video) Here.