In my recent tribute to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I made a point regarding his strong commitment to justice for all of God’s children. I made special reference to the injustices currently suffered by the Palestinian people under Israeli domination, marked by confiscation of rich land they have farmed for generations, destruction of their crops, barriers to access their holy places of worship, lack of access to certain types of employment and other forms of economic opportunity. As a people they are separated from one another by the military blockade of Gaza. While my reference to these injustices as “slavery” may seem extreme to many and, of course, offensive to most Israelis, no one who is informed regarding the use of military power and racial bias to control the lives of Palestinian citizens can honestly avoid the truth of this situation.
For us in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) these realities make it imperative that we, as Presbyterians, find ways to have the necessary conversation with Jews who will talk with us about the real tragedy of the Palestinian/Israeli struggle.
We are bound by our policies and the most recent one as basis for this point was approved at the 221st General Assembly, item number 04-09:
In some of the responses to my statement about Israel’s occupation as a form of slavery, there were efforts to link my comments about Israel with the anti-Semitic occupation by a terrorist of a synagogue in Texas.
The juxtaposition of those two things is strictly coincidental. Our General Assembly has a long, clear policy of abhorrence of anti-Semitism, but as Christians, we must also be linked with the refusal to give Israel a “pass” in the face of injustices done to Palestinians in Israel-Palestine.
If we are to be able to work toward a just and equitable future for both Israelis and Palestinians, we must honor all involved as children of God and we must learn to seek peaceful, just resolutions to the complex histories faced by both parties. May God give us the wisdom, courage and persistence to join in this quest for justice for all.