Advent greetings from the steering committee of the Mennonite Palestine Israel Network!
Mennonite Church USA resolution: We are sharing again the draft resolution that we are inviting congregations to endorse. Our goal is still to get as many congregations as we can to sign on to this resolution, but are extending the deadline to February 15, 2015. After Feb 15 we will submit this to the resolutions committee of Mennonite Church USA. If your congregation is interested in signing on as an official sponsor of this resolution, please email George Muedeking, chair of the advocacy/action subcommittee, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Kairos Palestine and BDS, check out the MennoPIN website: https://mennopin.wordpress.com/. And look for MennoPIN on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/MENNOPIN/504464379657343. Please check it out and like us. We welcome learning about the various approaches our many congregations are taking on this important issue!
#Palestine2Ferguson: MennoPIN is a member of the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation. Recently, MennoPIN was invited by the U.S. Campaign to endorse a statement of solidarity supporting the important linkages made between Palestine and the U.S. this past year. It is a statement acknowledging that the denial of justice for Mike Brown and Eric Garner are movement moments for us to unite against racism and fight for justice for all. You can read the statement here: http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=4239. We also include the text below.The steering committee invites your response to this call to add MennoPIN to the list of endorsers.
#Palestine2Ferguson: Statement on Justice Withheld
We are outraged by the recent Grand Jury decisions not to hold the police officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, both unarmed black men, accountable. This travesty of justice comes as no surprise. There are hundreds of Mike Browns and Eric Garners failed every year by a system that criminalizes and devalues black lives. As Garner said minutes before he was killed: “It stops today.”
We cannot remain silent while U.S. police are killing young people of color for walking or standing on the street. Black men are killed by police today at a greater frequency than that at which they were lynched less than a century ago. U.S. incarceration rates for black men exceed those of South Africa during Apartheid. As South African former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay recently stated, “there are many parts of the United States where apartheid is flourishing.” We know that challenging militarization and injustice abroad is incomplete without confronting and dismantling those systems at home.
On November 10, beloved Palestinian community activist Rasmea Odeh — survivor of rape and torture in Israeli jails — was found guilty in federal court of immigration fraud and put in solitary confinement for 12 days. Hours before being taken to prison, she expressed to supporters: “We can find justice in some place, maybe not in this court, maybe in another place. There is justice in this world. We will find it…”
Justice for Eric. Justice for Mike. Justice for Rasmea. Justice for all the victims of racism and state violence. To quote Ferguson youth: “United we stand, divided we fall.” May our joint struggles help us find justice together.
MCC Palestine Update: Earlier this month, MCC Palestine staff posted a reflection on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. It is a helpful year-end reflection as well as reminder of the role Mennonites have played and continue to play in our relationships to Palestinians and Israelis pursuing justice and peace:
“Both in this Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People and on this International Day of Solidarity, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) reaffirms its unwavering commitment to peace, justice, and human rights for Palestinians and Israelis, believing that only peace for all can be peace that endures…Sixty-five years ago, MCC began working with Palestinians as we responded to the Palestinian refugee crisis created during the establishment of the state of Israel. Today we continue this journey with Palestinians and Israelis as we respond to the structural and physical violence of colonialism, displacement and militarism in occupied Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel.”
Read more at the MCC Palestine Update bog: http://mccpalestine.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/international-day-of-solidarity-with-the-palestinian-people-2014-statement/.
Finally, we encourage you to keep the people of Palestine-Israel in your thoughts and prayers, using Sabeel’s recent “wave of prayer”: sabeel.org/waveofprayer.php. Also, we want to remind you of the Kairos Palestine Advent resource (http://www.kairospalestine.ps/sites/default/images/English%20Christmas%20Alert%202014.pdf) as well as share Sabeel’s Christmas message. During this Advent season of patient waiting and expectant hope, our Palestinian sisters and brothers remind us that the Christmas message says that “God knows and sees the suffering of the oppressed and God is doing something not through the people of power but through the birth of a baby who ultimately holds in himself the answer to the human condition of injustice and insecurity; therefore ‘do not be afraid.’”
Sabeel Jerusalem’s Christmas Message, 2014
by Naim Ateek, President of the Board of Sabeel
“Do not be afraid…” (Luke 2:10)
From a Palestinian world view, there are certain similarities between the political conditions in Palestine during the times of Jesus’ birth and the political situation in Palestine today. There is a flagrant occupation that dominates and oppresses people; and there are words that describe what people go through: fear, insecurity, instability, suffering, grief, despair, and other negative feelings that a repressive empire and an Israeli rightwing government can produce.
That is why the words of the angel to the shepherds in the Christmas story strike a relevant chord, “do not be afraid; for see I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people…” What constituted good news for the shepherds in first century Palestine and what would constitute good news for our Palestinian people today? It is nothing less than FREEDOM AND PEACE, because both can produce a life of dignity, security, and stability to people.
In the midst of these difficult times, the implication of the Christmas message to oppressed people is basically clear: God knows and sees the suffering of the oppressed and God is doing something not through the people of power but through the birth of a baby who ultimately holds in himself the answer to the human condition of injustice and insecurity; therefore “do not be afraid.”
Furthermore, the angels gave the shepherds the formula for peace on earth, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace, goodwill among people.” (Luke 2:14) This implies the need for two essential elements: On the one hand, peace on earth is possible when people including those in positions of power are willing to humble themselves before God, love and serve others, and give God the glory and the honor. On the other hand, Peace is possible when people cherish goodwill towards one another. Goodwill on all sides is essential for the realization of peace. From the Palestinian perspective one of the major obstacles to peace has been the lack of goodwill. Throughout the Palestine-Israel conflict, there have been summits, agreements, accords, roadmaps, understandings, etc. What was lacking was goodwill on the side of Israel. The Israeli government continuously tries to impose its will on the Palestinians rather than accepting the will of the world community and international law which the Palestinians insist upon. Goodwill means eliminating all barriers that prevent the enhancement of the dignity and the quality of life of the other. Goodwill means negotiating in good faith. Peace and goodwill are possible on earth when people are willing to acknowledge God’s overall sovereignty and relish goodwill and compassion towards their fellow human beings. It is as simple as that. And we believe this has been initiated and proclaimed through the life and work of Jesus Christ, the savior and liberator and through his teachings about the upside-down kingdom of God and through his death and resurrection.
But in this broken world where the powers seem to be in control, people are not willing to listen to God’s formula for peace. The government of Israel is a case in point: it oppresses and dominates our people, steals their land, evicts them from their homes, humiliates them and denies them their most basic human and political rights. And more recently, the proposed Israeli Nationality Law does not reflect goodwill towards the Palestinians. However, the coming of Christ conveys the will of God whose very nature is love, compassion, and justice; and whose longing is to see the realization of peace on earth and goodwill among people. That is why Jesus said, those who work and promote peace are God’s children. (Matthew 5:9)
As followers of Jesus Christ, we have the responsibility to be peacemakers and to promote this formula of peace and goodwill. We need to do whatever we can to implement it. It is an awesome responsibility but we can and must do it. This Christmas season emboldens us and gives us a renewed incentive to double our endeavors in working for a just peace in Palestine-Israel.
“Glory to God in the highest heavens, and on earth peace, goodwill among people.”
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Mennonite Palestine-Israel Network Steering Committee:
- Jonathan Brenneman (Lima Mennonite Church, Lima, OH)
- Tom Harder (Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church, Wichita, KS)
- Joy Lapp (Pleasant View Mennonite Church, Mt Pleasant, IA)
- George Muedeking (Albuquerque Mennonite Church, Albuquerque, NM)
- Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach (Peace Fellowship Church, Washington, DC)
- Timothy Seidel (Community Mennonite Church, Lancaster, PA)