The Uniting Church launches an important new campaign and a Methodist minister speaks about his work countering the apartheid regime in South Africa
Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network - Update

Uniting Church Launches Campaign on Palestine

Following National Assembly resolutions in 2015, the Uniting Church in Australia has officially launched its Campaign on Palestine-Israel. The launch took place in Melbourne on 13th October, 2016. The campaign was launched by the World Council of Churches General Secretary, Dr Olav Tveit.

In launching the campaign, Dr Tveit commented,

“We as a fellowship of churches including you are committed to continue this journey as a pilgrimage to find a just and sustainable solution together with the Palestinian people and with all peoples living in this area. 

“Any solution must be a solution that is fair and just for all. We are called to give a new word of hope to those who are in chains, who are suppressed, who are blind, who are sick.”

Guests at the launch were able to see the information leaflet prepared for the campaign, a brief video with Uniting Church minister and ecumenical accompanier, Rev Joan FIsher and the UCA's website, Living Stones.

More on the launch can be found here.

From left to right, Dr Olav Tveit, Rev Joan Fisher, Rev Dr Andrew Dutney and PIEN Executive Officer Tim Budge.

South African Campaigner speaks out on Palestine

Methodist minister Brian Brown worked for the Christian Institute of Southern Africa when he and the organisation were banned in 1977 by the apartheid regime.

He was involved in the Institute’s opposition to apartheid and civil religion, its engagement with Black Consciousness, and its calls for civil disobedience and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

Recently, Rev Brown wrote about his story and the connection between apartheid SA and justice for Palestine:

The regime’s pretext was that I was a Communist in priestly garb, promoting terrorist activity. The reality was that I had dared to call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as a non-violent contribution to the ending of apartheid’s institutional racism.

Looking back some 39 years later it’s apparent how BDS was a significant non-violent contributor to the ending of the institutional violence of apartheid. No longer would one tribal group dispossess another of land, of citizenship and of basic human rights.

The many similarities between the oppressive policies of South Africa’s apartheid era and the policies of Israel’s colonisation and occupation of Palestine today are increasingly apparent. The ethnic cleansing of Palestine far surpasses, in its intensity and violence, anything seen under apartheid. Given these shared heritages of dispossession I suggest that an equivalent response of BDS against the Israeli state is long overdue.

Those of us who called in 1977 for BDS – ‘an investment in South Africa is an investment in apartheid‘ – were often called anti-white or self-loathing whites. Yet when sharing in recent days it was self-evident that this estimate no longer prevails. Rather, the BDS call against apartheid SA is now seen as a means of promoting a transformation that assisted a non-racial and relatively just society to emerge.

Similarly, far from BDS against Israel being anti-Semitic, the intention is for national boundaries to emerge in which Israelis and Palestinians co-exist in peace based on justice and international law. The ‘self-loathing’ Jews I know and who share this vision are the true patriots.

Writing this in SA encourages me to reflect on why the local churches far more readily embrace the call for BDS against Israel than their reluctant British counterparts. The numerically dominant black constituency know that BDS contributed to their liberation; they honour the solidarity of those who declared their colonisation and who sought to prayerfully do something about it; they reject the mythology that sought to demonise BDS as hateful; they did not ‘suffer the most’ under BDS, as was suggested, and such suffering as occurred was seen to be purposeful; they rejected the belief that God had Covenanted with the Boers/Afrikaners to defeat them militarily and perpetuate their dispossession; they recall the similarities of their experience of ethnic cleansing and that of Palestinians whose country is being ‘disappeared’ today; just as they condemned ‘the system’ for perpetrating apartheid, and resisted any anti-white hatefulness, so they condemn the policies of Zionism that implement Greater Israel while they resist hating the perpetrators; they discern the similarities in Western policies that are more concerned with strategic alliances than with achieving justice and freedom for the oppressed; they know what it’s like being denied statehood and citizenship over many generations and empathise with Palestinians still experiencing their former plight; and they do not carry the legacy of shame and silence when recalling the horrors of the Holocaust – they too have suffered, albeit differently, from Europe’s racism.

You can read more on the ICAHD (Israeli Campaign Against House Demolitions) UK website 

Crosslight Article on Bethlehem Mayor

Coinciding with the UCA's campaign launch on Palestine, the October issue of the Vic/Tas Synod's newsletter Crosslight included an article focusing on the Christian Mayor of Bethlehem, Vera Baboun.

As she prepares to leave office, Bethlehem’s first female mayor has made an impassioned plea for peace and justice for the besieged city and the wider region. The article can be read here.

Palestinian Events 

1. Run for Palestine Adelaide

This event takes place on Sunday 6th November at Bonython Park. More details here. It's a great chance to get together with other supporters and raise some money too.

2. Run for Palestine Melbourne

Also on 6th November, at Tom's Block, Linlithgow Avenue (near the Botanical Gardens). More details here.

3. Palestinian Flag Raising, Fed Square

Palestinian National Day: flag raising and community festival
15 November, 5.30pm
Swanston St Forecourt, Federation Square

 Please join us as the Palestinian flag is flown for the first time in Federation Square.  There will be Palestinian food , DJ's, Dabke dancing for all to join, Tabla workshops, kids street art activities, Palestinian fair trade goods for sale and much more. A free, all ages event!

Bring your family and friends to celebrate all that is wonderful about Palestine!. 

More details here

Fact Sheet on Children Detained by Israel

The Delegation of Palestine to Australia has recently released a fact sheet outlining recent patterns of detention of Palestinian children by Israel. There are many concerning trends here.

You can read the factsheet on the PIEN website here.

The issue of Palestinian children detained by Israel is also a key concern to the organisation Defence of Children International. More details are here. DCI also provides options for advocacy and campaigning work on this issue.

Fancy making your own video on Palestine?

Al Jazeera has an interactive website where you can cut and paste from different (Al Jazeera) films to make your own video about Palestine. Nice use of technology, and it looks like the site has won awards for clever use of media.

More details here

Please share your video if you do make one using this site.

PayPal is no pal to Palestinians

Jewish Voices for Peace and other organisations are running a campaign highlighting the lack of access to PayPal for Palestinian businesses. To join the campaign, click here. Read more here.  If you use Twitter, use the #paypal4palestine hashtag

Australian Christians who seek lasting peace for the people of Palestine and Israel. 

We aim to equip and 
inform Australian churches, inspired by Christ’s vision for universal reconciliation.

Executive Officer
Tim Budge
0412 051 574

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Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network · PO Box 561 Flinders Lane · Melbourne, Vic 8009 · Australia

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