Kansas City 2015:
The Mennonite Church USA convention in Kansas City is only two weeks away! There are a lot of exciting opportunities for education, advocacy, and relationship-building as Mennonites from around the country gather together. We have compiled a list of Kansas City convention events and activities that will be of interest to MennoPIN.
First on this list is the Palestine-Israel resolution that will be presented to the Delegate Assembly on Wednesday July 1. If you are present in Kansas City, please try to attend this delegate session. For those not attending, let us all hold the delegates and our church leaders in prayer as the Delegate Assembly considers this resolution on July 1!
Please continue to be in conversation with your congregation’s delegates to Kansas City, providing them with whatever resources they might find helpful for their preparation. Resolution resources can still be found on the MennoPIN website https://mennopin.org/resolution/, including a brief history of Mennonite involvement in Palestine-Israel, a link to resources for further learning as well as the list of MennoPIN suggested materials for your congregation. Also check out this list of frequently asked questions prepared for delegates.
More resources for education and advocacy:
Here is a great piece in Mennonite World Review describing the work for peace with justice in Palestine-Israel that many have been doing in Mennonite Church USA, and that has laid the groundwork for this summer’s resolution in Kansas City. This summer will see a number of church denominational meetings across the U.S. Check out this article to learn more about what other churches are doing to support the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.
Palestinian Christians continue to invite their brothers and sisters around the world to act nonviolently for peace with justice in Palestine-Israel. The Kairos Palestine call, including the call to boycotts and divestment, is one such invitation. Learn more about the Kairos Palestine call here and about the experience of Palestinian Christians.
As of March 2015, 184 Palestinian minors (ages 12 to 17) were being held in Israeli custody, according to the Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem. Their most common offense is throwing stones. Because they are held under military law, these children do not have the protections generally provided under both international and Israeli law. While in detention they are often blindfolded and subjected to verbal and physical abuse. A 2013 UNICEF report states, “Ill treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized.” While noting positive progress on some fronts, a UNICEF update this year states, “Reports of alleged ill-treatment of children during arrest, transfer, interrogation and detention have not significantly decreased in 2013 and 2014.”
Learn more about what you can do by reading MCC’s action alert and learn more about the work to address Israeli military detention of Palestinian children at http://www.nowaytotreatachild.org/.
“Wall to Wall”:
The most recent issue of the MCC Washington Office Memo features reflections on Israel’s Separation Wall and its relationship to a wall that is not so far away—the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. There are many connections between these two walls, from U.S. government funding to the corporations building them. Several years ago an Israeli brigadier general was speaking at a border security conference in El Paso, Texas, when he boasted, “We have learned lots from Gaza. It’s a great laboratory.” This chilling quote brings home the reality that walls are all too often built to keep out the “other”—usually seen as one who is different from us and sometimes even less than human. In the face of these high walls, we as Christians must proclaim that love for neighbor is more powerful. Christ can break down even the strongest walls that divide us (Ephesians 2:14) and in that we place our hope.
This current issue focuses on Palestine and Israel and the next issue will focus on the U.S.-Mexico border. In it you will also find an analysis of the impact of the Wall on Palestinians, resources for reflection and mediation, and a helpful list of policy principles that can help you as you advocate for a more just and peaceful U.S. foreign policy in the region.
“Intersections: Palestine, Baltimore, and beyond”
In MennoPIN we are committed to an intersectional approach to working for peace with justice in Palestine-Israel. This means that we believe that working for justice and peace in Palestine-Israel cannot be separated from and must be complemented by working for justice and peace in our home communities. This is an important point highlighted in the MCC Washington Office Memo mentioned above. Learn more about the exciting solidarity opportunities being realized by organizations like Interfaith Peace-Builders and their commitment to the goal of justice in Palestine as well as the goals of the racial justice movement in the United States.
Remember that you can find prayer requests to use in your congregations here. The most recent prayer request has been formatted so you can include them as church bulletin inserts. We also encourage you to continue to pray alongside Palestinians using prayers like those shared by Sabeel. There is much to remember in prayer this month as we prepare to gather in Kansas City, but let us particularly remember the people of Gaza for whom this month marks one year since Israel’s most recent brutal assault on their lives and homes.
During this month of June, and as we prepare for the Mennonite Church USA convention in Kansas City, please continue to pray for all the people of Palestine-Israel.
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)