Prophetic 2017 church actions and Focus on Gaza
July 2017

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Palestine Portal News, our bimonthly newsletter.
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Introducing PalestinePortal.org

Palestine Portal is your source for news and information about the church movement for justice in Palestine. Here you can find updates from local, denominational and national organizations in the United States and from our partners around the world. 

Palestine Portal strives is a comprehensive resource for
education and awareness, a tool for organizing and action, a news outlet and a meeting place. Visit the home page for a look at all the features, and contact us with feedback and suggestions!

Be sure to check out Mapping the Movement: Does your congregational, local, denominational or national organization need to be here? Let us know!
Breaking News
on  
Faith leaders prevented from boarding flight to Israel 

In an unprecedented action, the Israeli government instructed Lufthansa that five members of in interfaith delegation were not to be allowed to board a flight to Israel.  It is believed that this is an implementation of Israel's March 2017 law banning anyone supporting the Palestinian call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions from entering Israel.

Read the press release from the Israel-Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church USA:
Read the report of Jewish Voice for Peace:
 
Theology in Action
 
"Who is Jesus Christ for us today?"

This was the question posed by
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian and justice advocate who was executed by the Nazis. His question resonates with as much urgency today. 
 
The words of Reformed theologian J├╝rgen Multmann resonates with Bonhoeffer's question:  the true church, writes Multmann, expresses the word of God "in concrete terms...matters of faith in the present time and context, answers of faith to challenges of history."

In our regular Theology in Action feature, we will explore how 21st century Christians are bringing answers of faith to what may be modern history's greatest challenge: Palestine and all that it represents for the global crisis of political, environmental, and economic justice.

Prophetic church actions in 2017
   
The last two months in particular have seen historic actions by the United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Mennonite Church USA, regional bodies in the United Methodist Church, and the World Communion of Reformed Churches.  

See a round up of the headline church actions so far this year.

In this issue, we are featuring the prophetic action in Baltimore, Maryland when the 31st General Synod of the United Church of Christ voted overwhelmingly for a resolution calling on the State of Israel to "exercise an absolute prohibition against torture and ill-treatment of children detained by Israeli authorities."  See the full text of the resolution.

In a personal reflection, Protecting the Children, Rev. Diane Dulin of the UCC PIN Steering Committee declares: "Our work has only just begun."
 
 Upcoming Portal newsletters will feature reports on 2017 actions of the Mennonites, Disciples of Christ, United Methodists, and the World Communion of Reformed Churches.             

17 Churches become HP-Free!

As part of the ongoing international boycott of HP products, Friends of Sabeel North American (FOSNA) has led the HP-Free Churches Campaign, helping local congregations make the decision to put their faith into action by pledging to stop buying HP products until HP companies declare they are dropping their multi-faceted support for the Israeli occupation.  

That support includes technology for checkpoints that cripple Palestinian life throughout the occupied territory, services and equipment for the Israeli Navy which enforces the brutal Gaza blockade, and services for the illegal settlements on Palestinian land. 
 
As of July 2017, seventeen congregations from seven denominations have made that pledge and answered the call of Palestinian Christians to boycott! Read FOSNA's press release.
And see the list of HP-Free churches.

 
Click to watch this short video on Youtube 

Will your church be the next one? Would you like help in bringing this subject to your church?  
 
Voices from Palestine
Palestinian Christians Issue a Challenge to the Ecumenical Church

"This is no time for shallow diplomacy, Christians!" reads the June 12th letter of the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine (NCCOP).

Announcing that "We are on the verge of a catastrophic collapse," the letter makes pointed reference to the Palestinian Christians' 2009 Kairos Palestine Document: 

"It gives us no pleasure to say that "we told you so eight years ago when we declared the moment as a Kairos moment...we need you now more than ever." 

Concerned that "some churches have weakened their positions in past years as a result of pressure," the authors call for the "costly solidarity" of people of faith and conscience, serving notice on the churches and the ecumenical community.
 
Read the commentary on this historic letter by Robert Cohen, a Jewish writer and activist from the UK: " Brace yourselves for costly solidarity."
Take Action
Gaza (Must Be) Unlocked

For over a decade, Palestinians in Gaza - now a population of 2 million - have lived under a brutal military blockade, a part of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Today Gazans are suffering as never before, caught between an implacable occupier, a colluding regional partner - Egypt - who enforces the blockade on their southern border, and now also political pressure from the Palestinian Authority, all of which is costing Gazans their last sources of electricity and other necessities.

A recent UN report said that by 2020, the Gaza Strip will be "unlivable," but many who know the situation there intimately have responded that it already is. Meantime, the world is in denial, choosing to ignore the monstrous proportions of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has launched the Gaza Unlocked
campaign, giving us access to first-hand accounts from Palestinians living in Gaza, information about the blockade, and opportunities to make a difference. Learn more about Gaza Unlocked
10 Years Later: Let Gaza Live!
American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) is another powerful voice for justice that is calling for urgent action for Gaza.

Learn more about the situation in Gaza on their website, find great resources to help others learn, and see their Action Alerts.
 
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