Signatories: Report misrepresented by critics who empty coexistence of true meaning
Groups in UK and Palestine/Israel affirm need for a just peace – “A Time for Action”
Press release, Tuesday 22 June 2010
A joint Jewish-Christian statement supporting the ‘Justice for Palestine and Israel’ paper being presented at this year’s Methodist Conference has been signed by 30 organisations and individuals.
The signatories, Christians and Jews from the UK and Palestine/Israel, offer their “wholehearted support” for the “humane and principled conclusions” of the Methodist working group, and criticise those who have “misrepresented and attacked” the report. [see, for example Uproar over Methodist Israel report in the Jewish Chronicle, 17 June 2010 – JfJfP ed]
Supporters include Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Pax Christi, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions UK, Amos Trust, Friends of Sabeel UK, Holy Land Trust, and the Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People. A range of Jews and Christians from Palestine/Israel have signed, including Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, Ramzi Zananiri, Executive Director of Near East Council of Churches-Jerusalem, and Michael Warschawski from the Alternative Information Centre, Jerusalem.
The statement notes that as the illegality of Israeli settlements is a “consensus issue affirmed by the United Nations, the UK government, and countless NGOs like Amnesty International”, boycotting their produce is a “refusal to aid a gross breach of human rights and an obstacle to a just resolution”.
The signatories urge the Methodist Church to take “the opportunity to listen to the cry for solidarity of the Palestinian Church as expressed in the Kairos document and respond. A just peace for Palestine will mean peace and security for Israelis – now is a time for action.”
Ben White, Campaign coordinator for ‘A Just Peace for Palestine’, said: “This is a clear show of support from Jews and Christians who understand that a real peace for both peoples requires justice. It stands in stark contrast to the disingenuous threat that listening to the call of Christian Palestinians and upholding international law and human rights will damage ‘inter-faith relations’ – on the contrary, inter-faith dialogue is not facilitated by ignoring serious questions about injustice.”
1. The Conference is an annual gathering and decides Methodist policy. The ‘Justice for Palestine and Israel’ report was produced by a working group and can be found here online.
We, the undersigned, are Christians and Jews who have invested our energies and hopes in working for a just peace in Palestine/Israel. We write to offer our wholehearted support for the ‘Justice for Palestine and Israel’ report being submitted to this year’s Methodist Conference.
Disappointingly, the working group’s humane and principled conclusions have been misrepresented and attacked by those who empty powerful terms like ‘coexistence’ and ‘reconciliation’ of their true meaning.
Coexistence is not advanced by the bulldozer’s blade as it demolishes Palestinian homes and uproots olive trees; nor is reconciliation furthered by segregation and a decades-long militarised regime of control. In opposing such injustices, the resolutions simply affirm international law.
The illegality of the settlements, for example, is a consensus issue affirmed by the United Nations, the UK government, and countless NGOs like Amnesty International; boycotting their produce is thus a refusal to aid a gross breach of human rights and an obstacle to a just resolution.
We do nothing to advance a just peace without being realistic about the structural imbalance between Israel and the dispossessed, stateless Palestinians. In 1963, Martin Luther King wrote that the greatest ‘stumbling block’ to freedom was the ‘moderate’ who preferred ‘a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice’.
The Methodist church has the opportunity to listen to the cry for solidarity of the Palestinian Church as expressed in the Kairos document and respond. A just peace for Palestine will mean peace and security for Israelis – now is a time for action.
Nader Abu Amsha, Director, East Jerusalem YMCA Rehabilitation Programme and Beit Sahour YMCA
Nidal Abuzuluf, Program Manager, YMCA/YWCA Joint Advocacy Initiative (JAI), Beit Sahour
Rev Alex Awad, Dean of Students, Bethlehem Bible College/Pastor, East Jerusalem Baptist Church
Bishara Awad, President, Bethlehem Bible College
Sami Awad, Executive Director, Holy Land Trust
Constantine S. Dabbagh, Executive Secretary, Near East Council of Churches Committee for Refugee Work, Gaza Area
Aaron Dover, Deborah Maccoby, Diana Neslen, Naomi Wayne, on behalf of Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Pat Gaffney, General Secretary, Pax Christi UK
Rev Ray Gaston, Inter Faith Enabler, Birmingham District Methodist Church
Abe Hayeem, RIBA, Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine
Rev Canon Garth Hewitt, Canon of St George’s Cathedral, Jerusalem/Director, Amos Trust
Rifat Kassis, General coordinator, Kairos Palestine
Rami Kassis, Executive Director, Alternative Tourism Group – Study Centre, Beit Sahour
Jennifer Oldershaw, on behalf of Friends of Sabeel UK
The Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People, Beit Sahour
Pat Price-Tomes, on behalf of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) UK
Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, President, Diyar Consortium, Bethlehem
George S. Rishmawi, Coordinator, Siraj, Centre for Holy Land Studies, Palestine
Dr. Walid Shomaly, Executive Director, Palestinian Centre for Research & Cultural Dialogue (PCRD), Bethlehem
Michael Warschawski, Sergio Yahni, Avital Mozes, Tania Kepler, Yossi Bartal, Connie Hackbarth, Shir Hever, of the Alternative Information Centre, Jerusalem
Ben White, Campaign coordinator, ‘A Just Peace for Palestine’
Mr. Ramzi Zananiri, Executive Director, Near East Council of Churches-Jerusalem