Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Faith Communities Need to Get Active Working for Justice in Palestine

A week ago I attended a conference in Chicago hosted by Friends of Sabeel - North America. It was addressed to the need for a much broader effort to tackle the issue of Palestine, particularly among faith communities (congregations).

Photo by Jessica Palys. (More at Finding Community)
This encouraged me to reflect on the ways in which we have been taking up the issue of Palestine at the church I attend -- St. Luke's Lutheran Church of Logan Square (Chicago)
Here are some of our efforts from the past year that I was reminded about:
* In 2012, we studied the Palestine issue during four Sundays in December. The original idea was to study the Kairos document. That evolved into a curriculum out of readings on Palestine specially developed by seminarian Jessica Palys (who was interning during 2012-13 at St. Luke's).

* This was supplemented by activities in subsequent weeks:
- January Justice Offering: Augusta Victoria Hospital
- Film Screening: Encounter Point
- Presentation: Joel Frankel from Jewish Voices for Peace did a presentation
- Presentation: Jessica did a slide show following her January student trip to Israel/Palestine. (For a sampling, see her blog.)
- We also had a follow-up discussion later in the spring, with Palestinian Lutheran pastor Khader Khalilia.
And here's the outline of what we're thinking about for our "Perspectives on Israel and Palestine" sessions during December, 2013:
* Since we have a relationship with Augusta Victoria Hospital - directing Justice Offerings there every year -- I'm wondering if there is a way we can pull in some of the writing that might exist about their history and experience to engage with it in a deeper way.

* Since we are hoping to arrange for Rabbi Brant Rosen to come do a book talk for the Logan Square community some day soon, perhaps we could read and discuss a section of Wrestling in the Daylight as a prelude to that.

* I was very moved by the portrait of Jimmy Carter provided in the documentary about his Mideast peacemaking efforts.  We could read a bit of Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid and/or look at a clip from Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains.

* I'd like to read something by Edward Said, e.g. a selection from The Question of Palestine
Photo by Jessica Palys. (More at Finding Community)
Join us during the five Sundays in December (1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th) at 9 a.m., St. Luke's Logan Square, 2649 N Francisco, Chicago)

PS - There are many events about Palestine taking place at churches and other venues throughout the Chicago area. Several months ago I set up a site to aggregate notices of these events ... and I'm setting about now to update that.

Related posts

The big takeaway for me from this panel was the message conveyed by Ali Abunimah: people in Gaza say now that there is a ceasefire, and the summer 2014 massacre in Gaza is behind us, please don't let up on your advocacy. Don't drop it! I left convinced that Christian congregations -- including congregations of the ELCA, of which I'm a member, as well as others -- are one of the key places that continued faithful attention to issues of peace and justice in Israel / Palestine must be carried out.

(See PRAY, LEARN, ACT: Congregations Need to Stay Engaged on Palestine )

"Inhumane treatment of young men and boys, arrests under cover of night, unjust torture while in police custody, missing husbands and brothers and sons, children stripped of internationally agreed upon human rights. For these Palestinian boys and men, we weep with the women."

(See Palestine: The Women Weep (34th Annual 8th Day Good Friday Justice Walk) )

Steven Salaita has forced us to speak quite openly about three rather distinct things that get treated (incorrectly) as if they were the same thing: the state of Israel (and whether you criticize it or support it); the ideology of Zionism (and whether you criticize it or support it); and the religion of Judaism (and whether or not you share in its values and beliefs).

(See "What good is a tweet?" (The Packing and Unpacking of Meaning and the Steven Salaita Case) )

Read more about the December, 2013, adult education on Palestine at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Logan Square, Chicago.

(See Adult Education During December: Palestine)

The #1 supporter of the terror that Israel is perpetrating in Gaza is the United States. Israel is doing the work set out for it by the U.S. government, against victims for which the U.S. government bears full responsibility, using weapons and money supplied by the U.S. government.

(See USA: Proud Sponsor of T E R R O R in Gaza!)

 There are some people who say, "Why does it take the sacrifice of an American to get people to care about the many people who have died and suffered in Gaza and other parts of Palestine and Israel?"

(See Where were YOU on April 10, 1979?)

Is it possible that scripture is telling us that it's no longer acceptable to passively nod in agreement -- -- to murmur inwardly, "I'm with you in spirit" -- and then to go back to our other concerns?

(See Afghanistan: Where is the Church?)