Religious leaders ask Congress to condition Israel military aid on human rights compliance

PC(USA)’s Parsons, others see ‘troubling,consistent pattern of disregard’ by Israel government for U.S. policies

October 5, 2012

LOUISVILLE

Fifteen religious leaders representing many major faith groups in the country, have written a letter to Congress seeking to make U.S. military aid to Israel contingent upon its government’s “compliance with applicable U.S. laws and policies.”

Signers of the letter include Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons.

The signers say they “have worked for decades to support both Israelis and Palestinians in their desire to live in peace and well-being” and “have witnessed the pain and suffering of Israelis as a result of Palestinian actions and of Palestinians as a result of Israeli actions.”

Though they recognize that both Israelis and Palestinians bear responsibility for the prolonged violence in the region,   “unconditional U.S. military assistance to Israel has contributed to deteriorating conditions in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories which threaten to lead the region further away from the realization of a just peace. Furthermore, such aid sustains the conflict and undermines the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

The signers urge an immediate investigation into possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, which respectively prohibit assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations and limit the use of U.S. weapons to “internal security” or “legitimate self-defense.”   

They urge Congress to hold hearings to examine Israel’s compliance, and request regular reporting on compliance and the withholding of military aid for non-compliance.

The signers see a troubling and consistent pattern of disregard by the government of Israel for U.S. policies that support a just and lasting peace, particularly unbridled settlement construction in the West Bank. This year has also seen a dramatic rise in settler attacks against Palestinians with seeming impunity, they say.  

“Continued U.S. military assistance to Israel offered without conditions or accountability,” the signers conclude, “will only serve to sustain the status quo and Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories.”  

The full text of the letter, dated Oct. 5:

Dear Member of Congress,

We write to you as Christian leaders representing U.S. churches and religious organizations committed to seeking a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians. Our organizations have been deeply involved in this pursuit for decades, inspired by the call and promise of Jesus Christ who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

In response to our Christian call to be peacemakers, we have worked for decades to support both Israelis and Palestinians in their desire to live in peace and well-being. We have worked alongside our Palestinian Christian sisters and brothers to help build a peaceful and resilient Palestinian civil society by supporting hospitals, schools, clinics, and social service agencies. These ministries include cooperative efforts with Israelis and Palestinians as well as with Jews, Muslims, and other neighbors here in the United States. Through our presence in the region, and regular visits to our partners there, we see first-hand the impacts of the conflict on both Palestinians and Israelis and hear from them directly about the reality of their lives.

Through this direct experience we have witnessed the pain and suffering of Israelis as a result of Palestinian actions and of Palestinians as a result of Israeli actions. In addition to the horror and loss of life from rocket attacks from Gaza and past suicide bombings, we have witnessed the broad impact that a sense of insecurity and fear has had on Israeli society.

We have also witnessed widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinians, including killing of civilians, home demolitions and forced displacement, and restrictions on Palestinian movement, among others. We recognize that each party—Israeli and Palestinian—bears responsibilities for its actions and we therefore continue to stand against all violence regardless of its source. Our stand against violence is complemented by our commitment to the rights of all Israelis, as well as all Palestinians, to live in peace and security.

It is this experience and these commitments that lead us to write to you today to express our grave concern about the deteriorating conditions in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories which threaten to lead the region further away from the realization of a just peace.

Unfortunately, unconditional U.S. military assistance to Israel has contributed to this deterioration, sustaining the conflict and undermining the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians. This is made clear in the most recent 2011 State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices covering Israel and the Occupied Territories, which details widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinian civilians, many of which involve the misuse of U.S.-supplied weapons.

(Weapons in this instance include “crowd control” items such as tear gas. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-74) which is included in the US Foreign Military Financing regulations stipulates that “not later than 90 days after enactment of this act and 6 months thereafter, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations detailing any crowd control items, including tear gas, made available with appropriated funds or through export licenses to foreign security forces that the Secretary of State has credible information have repeatedly used excessive force to repress peaceful, lawful, and organized dissent.” )

Accordingly, we urge an immediate investigation into possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act which respectively prohibit assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations and limit the use of U.S. weapons to “internal security” or “legitimate self-defense.”

(While this letter focuses on US-Israel relations and the Israel-Palestine conflict, these are laws that we believe should be enforced in all instances regardless of location. All allegations regarding the misuse of US supplied arms should be investigated.)

More broadly, we urge Congress to undertake careful scrutiny to ensure that our aid is not supporting actions by the government of Israel that undermine prospects for peace. We urge Congress to hold hearings to examine Israel’s compliance, and we request regular reporting on compliance and the withholding of military aid for non-compliance.  

In addition to specific rights violations, we see a troubling and consistent pattern of disregard by the government of Israel for U.S. policies that support a just and lasting peace. Specifically, repeated demands by the U.S. government that Israel halt all settlement activity have been ignored. Since 1967, every U.S. administration has decried Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as obstacles to peace. Despite this stance, Israel continues to expand its settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, claiming territory that under international law and U.S. policy should belong to a future Palestinian state. The Oslo peace process, which began in 1993, was publicly promoted as leading Israelis and Palestinians to a just peace based on a two-state solution. Instead, since 1993, the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has more than doubled. Rights violations resulting from Israeli settlement activity include separate and unequal legal systems for Palestinians and settlers, confiscation of Palestinian land and natural resources for the benefit of settlers, and violence by settlers against Palestinians.

According to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem and the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there has been a dramatic rise in settler attacks against Palestinians this year. They report that these attacks are often intended to drive Palestinians from areas the settlers wish to take over, and that Israeli authorities have failed to take significant action to stop the violence or hold the perpetrators accountable. We believe that these actions directly undermine peace efforts and threaten, rather than support, Israel’s long-term security interests.

We want to be clear that we recognize that Israel faces real security threats and that it has both a right and a duty to protect both the state and its citizens. However, the measures that it uses to protect itself and its citizens, as in the case with any other nation, must conform to international humanitarian and human rights law.

As Christian leaders in the United States, it is our moral responsibility to question the continuation of unconditional U.S. financial assistance to the government of Israel. Realizing a just and lasting peace will require this accountability, as continued U.S. military assistance to Israel -- offered without conditions or accountability -- will only serve to sustain the status quo and Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories.

We request, therefore, that Congress hold Israel accountable to these standards by making the disbursement of U.S. military assistance to Israel contingent on the Israeli government’s compliance with applicable U.S. laws and policies.

As Israel is the single largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid since World War II, it is especially critical for Israel to comply with the specific U.S. laws that regulate the use of U.S.-supplied weapons. We also encourage Congress to support inclusive, comprehensive, and robust regional diplomacy to secure a just and lasting peace that will benefit Israelis, Palestinians, and all the peoples of the region, and the world.

With respect and gratitude, we offer you our prayers.

In addition to Parsons, the letter was signed by Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; United Methodist Council of Bishops President Rosemarie Wenner; Peg Birk, transitional general secretary of the National Council of Churches; Shan Cretin, general secretary of the American Friends Service Committee; J. Ron Byler, executive director of the Mennonite Central Committee U.S.; and Alexander Patico, North American secretary for the Orthodox Peace Fellowship.

Also, Diane Randall, executive secretary of the Friends Committee on Legislation; American Baptist Churches General Secretary A. Roy Medley; United Church of Christ General Minister and President Geoffrey A. Black; the Rev. Sharon Watkins, general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); the Rev. Julia Brown Karimu, president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Division of Overseas Ministries; the Rev. James A. Moos, executive minister for the United Church of Christ’s Wider Church Ministries; Eli S. McCarthy, justice and peace director for the Conference of Major Superiors of Men; and Kathy McKneely, acting director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns.

  1. In an absurd effort to try to show that iyou are fair in its approach to Israel, the Presbyterian Church has invoked the name of the so-called "Jewish Voice for Peace." I guess the Church is unaware of the fact that the ADL just listed that group of kapos as among the most ardent of the Israel-bashers. By the way, just try to buikld a church in any Middle Eastern nation, with the exceprion of Israel (the only nation in the region with a growing Christian population), and and you would be lucky to come out of it alive!

    by Robert

    February 15, 2014

  2. I am grateful to read this letter. I have known aid workers who worked in Palestine, and have also just finished reading the book "The General's Son" written by Miko Peled, son of Israeli general and war-hero Matti Peled, who became a peace activist after witnessing atrocities committed by Israeli troops. Please read this book and then re-consider the situation - with some of the atrocities committed, you could substitute the word Israeli for Nazi and Palestiniian for Jewish people. There are peace activitist on both sides of The Wall and we should be listening to the Israeli and Palestinian peace activists and supporting them, rather than the more violent components of their societies.

    by Patricia Green

    September 29, 2013

  3. Some obvious questions. 1. Why is the church so assertive about Palestianian rights, and was so quiet during the holocaust when Jewish women and children were murdered. Why isn't there more talk about the gross mistreatment of Jewish citizens in Yemen, Egypt, and other Moslem countries. Entire Jewish communities faced discrimination, and many were expelled. Israel is needed because of the historic discrimination Jews faced. Noted what is called the occupation is not the source of problems. Pre-1967, the adjoining Arab countries sought to destroy Israel and in 1967, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq unified to push Israel into the sea. Few countries complained then; the destruction of Israel and murder of Jews were deemed a low priority. What exactly is the proposed solution. Many suggested, just return the Gaza and the problems will be solved and when Israel did that, missiles and bombs reigned down on the adjoining towns terrifying Jewish children. Far from responding immediately, terrified mothers and fathers in these towns in Israels complained, why is our government doing nothing while we risk our lives. A peace program was rejected by the Palestinians. Every indication is that concessions by Israel would be seen as a first step toward restoration of the area to its rightful Moslem owners. The good job Israel does, creating new products, medical technology for cancer is rarely mentioned. Israel is called aparteid people saying the issue is simple: there are 19 Moslem countries in the Middle East but one Jewish one is far too many. One is reminded of the saying during the holocaust when Jews sought to emigrate, None is Too Many.

    by Bobby5000

    February 9, 2013

  4. The PCUSA.ORG has always been interested and involved in world self development as have UCC congregations and all religious antecedents. Please read your Bible more - especially the poems of the Testaments. We should all live in the Spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr; Gandhi, Mohammed, ; and all the Peacemakers who have before us. The vast resources of our World are only surpassed by Jesus Christ and God, Yahweh, the name that cannot be spoken - from the creation myths found in Genesis. Study your Bible, take courses in Physics, photography, and especially Art. Get to love the world.

    by jonathan c barker, d.min.

    January 10, 2013

  5. Why no concern over the policies of the Palestinian authority?

    by P.F. Undit

    December 25, 2012

  6. Just wondering -- have the "church leaders" who wrote this letter or the commenters lauding it and condemning Israel ever issued any statements regarding the violations of human rights of Christians or minority Muslim sects throughout the Middle East, or of the Kurds? Or regarding the Kurds' right to a homeland? Or the killings in Syria? If not, why not?

    by Rob Marlowe

    December 25, 2012

  7. Thank you for being on the right side of history! The rest of the world will catch up. We needed your example. Salam & blessings!

    by Lynn Grassmeyer

    December 5, 2012

  8. Thank you. An open letter like this was long overdue. I wish this was receiving more news coverage.

    by George Hung

    November 23, 2012

  9. I'd like to thank Noushin Framke, Communications Chair, IPMN (The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)) for responding to my inquiry in the above post. Appreciate it.

    by Sam Bryan

    November 11, 2012

  10. In response to Sam Bryan below, we are not aware of any "umbrella group" for the 15 signatories, but our mission network will be following the developments and posting statements regarding them on our website: www.theIPMN.org We are the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) known as IPMN. We were established by a mandate of the 2004 General Assembly. You can see the language of the mandate we have been charged with on our website which is also linked to on PC(USA) World Mission pages. We commend Rev. Gradye Parsons, our Stated Clerk, for following through with a directive of the 2010 GA.

    by Noushin Framke, Communications Chair, IPMN

    November 9, 2012

  11. It's very commendable for Christians to seek the well being and rights of the Muslims in the ME. But who is speaking for the welfare of the Christians, whose presence is precarious and diminishing??

    by TomSolomon

    November 8, 2012

  12. I've discovered that there are somewhat different versions of the letter submitted to Congress by different church leaders. Anyone following this closely would probably like to know that. I've only compared the PCUSA version above with the Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers) version that can be found at http://fcnl.org/issues/foreign_policy/faith_letter_regarding_military_aid_to_israel/ There is a very large overlap, but not completely. I do think it was helpful that the Quaker letter included an addendum titled: "Examples of specific, systematic human rights violations related to U.S. military support" It itemizes 5 human rights violations. When I talk with friends about the letter they understandably want to know in somewhat more detail what the letter's particular grievances are. So I'd recommend this.

    by Sam Bryan

    November 8, 2012

  13. Could someone tell me if there is an "umbrella" organization" for these 15 church leaders? I would like to follow what happens next - for example the letter request of Congress "...regular reporting on compliance and the withholding of military aid for non-compliance." How might we receive that information? I'd also like to see how to support this initiative, how to get behind it. Its success I believe will come at best if there is substantial constituency advocacy for it. Do the leaders have suggestions on how to do that? Is there a website devoted to this initiative? Would appreciate hearing back from anyone who might know.

    by Sam Bryan

    November 8, 2012

  14. Regardless of what the intent of the letter is, what I find particularly disturbing about the contents is that the Palestinians and Israel are portrayed as though they are on equal grounds. There is no analogy to one who is oppressed and has suffered decades of outageous atrocities (that are certainly far more than mere "human rights violations"), and the other who is the oppressor and has inflicted these atrocities, while those who have the power to stop it have actually aided in these crimes. Why is it so difficult to approach Congress with the facts instead of softening what they actually are? In the meanwhile, the Palestinians continue to suffer at the hands of a brutal oppressor who has complete indifference to what anyone else thinks.

    by Marlene Newesri

    November 3, 2012

  15. Praying for courageous politicians in DC to stand up for the right thing even at risk of the un-informed and persistent labels that so often are thrown out when one questions any aspect of Israeli policies. Thanks for the leadership here to initiate the dialogue.

    by Mark Thomson

    November 2, 2012

  16. Christian leaders should be MORE WORRIED ABOUT THE ISLAMIZATION OF FRANCE. France and Europe will be converted to ISLAM in the next one hundred years. Where are the christian leaders who are supposed to defend a christian europe?

    by paul jones

    October 31, 2012

  17. My sincere appreciation for your support for justice in the Holy Land. No effort should be spared to stop the killing and to stop the indiscriminate funding from the United States.

    by Roger Tanquist

    October 30, 2012

  18. "We have also witnessed widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinians, including killing of civilians, home demolitions and forced displacement, and restrictions on Palestinian movement, among others. We recognize that each party—Israeli and Palestinian—bears responsibilities for its actions and we therefore continue to stand against all violence regardless of its source." People who agree with this view it as straightforward and balanced opposition to what is clearly wrong. Those who disagree view the people who wrote it as saying they are against violence while they oppose anything Israel does to prevent violence against its citizens. The result is a major Jewish dispute with liberal Protestants. By looking at a very small number of rabbis who agree with them as if they represent about as many people as the rabbis who oppose them, the authors discount the extent of the conflict. I am not sure the busy people at the top of these denominations with all their responsibilities are in a position to take the time to work this through with people they disagree with. Yet it makes no sense to expect congress to get into the middle of a dispute between the leaders of major US religious denominations. I think progress on these issues if it comes will happen when people at the grassroots level on both sides get together and invest a lot of time working to at least achieve mutual respect and trust. With that, there are many things people will be able to agree on and political leaders will be influenced by that.

    by David Marshak

    October 27, 2012

  19. http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/10/23/3110126/op-ed-christians-letter-was-reasonable-worded-sensitively Jewish leaders' voices deserve special attention in these discussions. Rabbi Brant Rosen · October 23, 2012 published in JTA an Op-ed titled: "Christians’ letter was reasonable, worded sensitively". I highly recommend this article. It makes point after point that is spot on in my opinion as a supporter of the letter. Rabbi Rosen concludes "We can only hope that these Christian leaders will stand firm and that this sad episode will lead us to a new kind of interfaith covenant -- one based on trust and respect, a willingness to face down our fear and suspicion of one another, and a readiness to discuss the painful, difficult issues that may divide us." http://www.jta.org/news/article/2012/10/23/3110126/op-ed-christians-letter-was-reasonable-worded-sensitively

    by Sam Bryan

    October 27, 2012

  20. THANKS A MILLION FOR YOUR LETTER! Don't let them silence you or put you down, that's what the Zionists do whenever anyone speaks up against their crimes & racism. The day will come when Jesus will ask you why didn't you stand up for your fellow Palestinian Christians & left them behind & alone! It makes me feel sick that they got angry from a well balanced prophetic letter that asks for peace & justice, & didn't say a word about the crimes & injustice that is taking place in occupied Palestine, which proves they are liars, biased & propagandists! Christians who falsely believe that Israel is the still the chosen people of God and that there will be 7 year tribulation at the end of time, is patently false and unbiblical. Even Israeli's inside of Israel recognize the evil their nation has committed against the Palestinians, but Christians cannot see it thanks to dispensationalism.

    by James Yacoub

    October 27, 2012

  21. Bravo to the Christians leaders for standing for true Christian principals and demanding that we re-evaluate foreign aid to Israel until they fix their human rights record! I am glad to see that the Roman Catholic Church isn't alone now in mainstream churches that actually live by our Lords principals of love, peace and care for one another. Regards Sam J. Samaha

    by Sam

    October 26, 2012

  22. From United Methodist Bishop Wenner: “We stand clearly on the side of Israel and we are committed to human rights for all God’s people. We are ready to continue the dialogue with Jewish faith groups. And we will also continue to express publicly our desire for peaceful solutions for the conflict in the Middle East.” http://www.pcusa.org/news/2012/10/5/religious-leaders-ask-congress-condition-israel-mi/?c=14249 The leaders of the Jewish groups who cancelled the meeting feel the same way.

    by David Marshak

    October 25, 2012

  23. God bless all of the religious leaders of the church of Christ for standing against injustice and oppression and with the poor and oppressed.

    by sophia

    October 25, 2012

  24. thanks pcusa for signing - standing up for justice - as a part of this church, we applaud you

    by Elisabeth Southorn

    October 25, 2012

  25. "It is not anti-Christian to refuse to support Israel. It would be anti-Christian to support the genocide of the Palestinian people." From the book Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict by Craig Michael Neilsen

    by Soleil Diskic

    October 25, 2012

  26. THANK YOU FOR TAKING A STAND WITH JUSTICE FOR THE OPPRESSED. MORE POWER TO YOU !gOD BLESS !

    by Elizabeth Atrash

    October 25, 2012

  27. The major and unspoken problem in all this is the fact of zionist infiltration into mainstream denominations in the form of a relatively new heresy, dispensationalism. under this wicked mindset (brainwashing, really), congregations are conditioned to support Israel at any cost, even the lives of innocent Palestinian Christians. This demonic lie must be challenged consistently and unhesitatingly until it is dismantled and destroyed by the truth. The Jews have no special relevance to God. They must come to Him the same way as everyone else-- through the Messiah Jesus. No more aid to the rogue state of Israel!

    by stravo lukos

    October 25, 2012

  28. I am totally against human killing.Stop this.

    by Hemel

    October 25, 2012

  29. Finally some people in US wake up. As a European (Dutch) it has always surprised me enormously why the US give such hugely disproportional amounts of funding to onr country, even it that country continues the oppression of people in lands it keeps occupied. This is totally out of balance. And even asking questions was politically so sensitive that people kept silent.

    by Gilles van Belzen

    October 24, 2012

  30. No courage shown with either letter. Just ganging up with others. I am sure Israel needs to do better, as do ALL their neighbors and most countries. So why were they singled out for Human Rights violations. Where has the church been? Have you been asking Congress not to fund countries that discriminate against and persecute women and little girls, who abuse Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, minority Muslim sects etc etc? And to issue that letter right before the meeting with your Jewish peers seems arrogant and dismissive. And why did I have to read about it in the NY Times? More of our congregation will go to more humble congregations.

    by Carol Caruthers

    October 24, 2012

  31. Finally, an action against real evil. KEEP IT UP!!!!!!!!

    by J. Porter

    October 23, 2012

  32. How much of our tax dollars support Hamas' & Hezbollah's jihad? Get a clue Presbyterians!

    by G. de La Hoya

    October 23, 2012

  33. The denominations represented by the leaders who wrote the letter have a lot of power; far more than all the Jewish denominations put together have. Just one of these denomations, the United Methodists, has as many people as there are Jews and not all Jews are religious. So they are encouraging Palestinians to think that their leaders can get all that they want because Christians will use their influence to get congress to force Israel to give in to their demands. Most Jews are sure doing that will be the end of the Jewish state. So this letter and things like this letter are giving Palestinians a false hope and encouraging them to make demands that will never be met. Moreover these leaders are far from having unified backing from the people they represent for what they are saying.

    by David Marshak

    October 23, 2012

  34. Seems a great deal of apprehension and fear behind many of these comments. Why is that? Of what are so many Bible-believing Christians afraid? Surely it is appropriate for the US Government to examine the conduct of beneficiaries of any and all of its military assistance programmes? And to do so without passion or prejudice?

    by Chas

    October 23, 2012

  35. Tears of joy drowned my eyes as I read your letter. The light of hope shines on those who have long struggled, almost without hope, for justice and peace in the Holy Land. The wall of fear is crumbling and the truth will prevail. The call from our Palestinian brothers in Christ is being heeded at long last. المجد لله في الأعالي، وعلى الأرض السلام، وبالناس المسرة. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and goodwill to all.

    by Hilal Malawi

    October 23, 2012

  36. ‎"Seeing people, and especially the Christians, have the courage to speak up against such abomination lifts my heart in the belief that the good among us will survive and eventually become better united. We are sick to death of occupation and terrorism! God bless you all. Thank you Jesus for being and giving us the Truth, for thou art the Truth, thy Word is Truth. Salaam Khoury and on behalf of my entire Palestinian Christian family who were ethnic cleansed from their own homes and cities, driven into the sea, tortured, discriminated against and demonized by the non-Semite Zionist terrorists for the last 64 years!

    by Salaam Khoury

    October 23, 2012

  37. So the PCUSA follows the left-wing of the Democrat Party in all things - higher taxes, bigger government, anti-Zionism. restricted free speech, unholy marriage, and abortion-on-demand. And the PCUSA has the audacity to consider itself "Mainline Protestantism" and following in the footsteps of Jesus Himself. Gradye et al - please read Ezekiel 13:9.

    by Robert Bruce

    October 22, 2012

  38. Thank you, Christian leaders, for offering this word of truth and wisdom to the Congress of the United States. If we want peace, we must work for justice and ending military aid until Israel truly advocates justice for both Israel and Palestine, is a moral and ethical stand of the highest quality.

    by Polly Johnson

    October 22, 2012

  39. I have never been more embarrassed to be a Presbyterian. Unless you live in the Middle Earth you know as soon as the US stops military aid to Israel they'll be destroyed by a nation like Iran--who will still be receiving aid from the Russians. This is purely political...and anti-Semitic. PCUSA....you do NOT speak for me. No wonder "mainline" Protestant churches are bleeding members! My family and I will be next.

    by Vanessa

    October 22, 2012

  40. It would be very helpful if some of the leaders who signed the letter would explain in detail what they are hoping will happen as a result of it and how they view the people in the Jewish community who don't think as they do about this. It is better to have the facts than to guess about those things. I am sure they know that there is no way congress will investigate human rights abuses only in Israel. It would make more sense for them to ask Hillary Clinton for a meeting to talk about what the State Department has found in its investigation of charges of human rights abuses by Israel.

    by David Marshak

    October 22, 2012

  41. Jews have lived in Israel for thousands of years. The Romans did not drive all of them out. It has always been a center of learning and a refuge. Achad Haam proposed making it the spiritual center of Jewish national identity. That is Spiritual Zionism as opposed to Political Zionism.

    by David Marshak

    October 22, 2012

  42. I hope the Presbyterians and others can use this document and comment as a study course with a strong backing from the national congregation. I am not a Presby but I would like to see this backed by the World Clouncil of Churches in a concerted effort to teach, especially the youth. Thank you.

    by SAndy

    October 22, 2012

  43. Thanks for finally having the courage to stand up for the oppressed Palestinians. Also Israel is a political government based on Zionism; A Racist 19th Century project. Israel is not God and those speaking for her are missing this and using misleading tactics. The Canaanite, Hebrew and Aramaic speaking tribes are the ancestors of the Palestinians. Some converted to Judaism, later most became Christians and some of those same people converted to Islam over the last two centuries. They adopted Arabic , a sister language to Aramaic and the mother to the Hebrew tongue. The Palestinians are some of the original Jews and they did not come from Mars. They speak Aramaic and Arabic with Aramaic vocabulary and accent/dialect. Christ spoke Aramaic and his stories are the stories that both Christian and Muslim Palestinians tell. If there is God he would be for all not for a section that controls discourse on religion and politics. Zionism is a system similar to other of Europe's narrow Colonialist/Nationalistic movements that used God to conquer and remove Natives from their lands. Justice with Peace is what Christ the Palestinian would seek.

    by layla

    October 21, 2012

  44. Proud to be Presbyterian!

    by Maggie Mitchell Salem

    October 21, 2012

  45. These Islamophiles are taking you to war- funny how we are still crucifying Christ by betraying the principles that we were taught as children. As I see it life occurs only within feet of the earth's crust. If you even believe in God - he is very close to us and watching - we can do better than this trash!

    by Daryl Nace

    October 21, 2012

  46. Thank you, PC(USA), for you principled stand! I am proud to be Presbyterian! It is time to call our government on its unquestionable support of Israel, and to hold Israel accountable. It is time to end the occupation!

    by Elaine Johnson

    October 20, 2012

  47. As a Presbyterian, I am so proud that the leaders of my church have joined other religious leaders in taking this courageous stand and writing to members of Congress to request that they look into this situation. You are educating all of us about our laws. I have tried to learn more about the Middle East since a family member majored in international service with an emphasis on the Middle East. I pray for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, which in my opinion would be a two-state solution. Thank you for making the letter public as well.

    by Blanche Hamilton

    October 20, 2012

  48. I fully support the letter. Israel is inflicting human rights abuses on the Palestinians on a daily basis. I have just finished reading Anna Baltzer's book "Witness in Palestine" and I am appalled by what I have learned. I do not understand why the USA, a country that claims to support human rights, would blindly provide diplomatic cover and financial and military aid that enables Israel to continue to behave in such an egregiously oppressive manner.

    by Frank Randazzo

    October 20, 2012

  49. Many thanks to PCUSA's Gradye Parsons for following Jesus Christ's lead, in speaking truth to power, calling for a peace that will include all God's precious children of I/P.

    by Heidi Saikaly

    October 19, 2012

  50. I can not disagree with that letter...

    by Jacob Silverstein

    October 19, 2012

  51. Do not deceive yourself! These clergymen are motivated by malice and use the language of human rights as a cover. They are not interested in the context of Israel’s need to control a hostile population many of whom will settle for nothing less than Israel’s destruction. Check out the names of these clergy and their organization to see what are their attitudes and affiliations with regard to such terrorist organizations as Hamas and Hezbollah. rabbi dr. bernhard rosenberg

    by rabbi rosenberg

    October 18, 2012

  52. I am grateful to Rev Stephen Sizer for making it possible for me to read this letter. Having lived briefly in the Middle East, I have been much in prayer over the lack of reconciliation and justice in relations between Israelis and Palestinians. The work of Musalaha (CMS), for instance, and initiatives of OPEN DOORS have encouraged me. So does this letter and I applaud the signatories. I write as a British member of the Anglican Communion. May the Lord continue to touch Christian consciences over oppression and injustice and bless all who work for truth and reconciliation.

    by Sheila Brown

    October 18, 2012

  53. The slurs against Israel continue. Sure the human beings who live in Israel are not perfect. No human beings are. Some of them are angry and do things out of anger just as is the case everywhere. There are things that can be done to make things better for people in the West Bank and some of them are being done. Fear of Israel and anger at Israel are making that harder because people in the West Bank with legitimate grievances need to trust people in Israel in order to explain and work through their grievances. Gaza is harder because the people ruling there are working with nations who hate Israel to end the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, a goal the writers of the letter seem not to oppose. Hatred for Israel and the people of Israel makes it harder to push for more attention to the legitimate issues Palestinians have. Comments like some of those here and letters like this one lead to a siege mentality where Jews in Israel feel that they can be attacked and many will be piously indifferent but if they harm people it will be used as an excuse to try to uproot them from the land they live on. I would love to be able to talk to some of the people who wrote the letter to understand why they ignore so much and seem not to see the consequences of them getting what they fervently wish for. Leaders in the Jewish community have written them a letter asking to meet with them at a summit to discuss the letter. I hope they will do that. I personally am prepared to spend as much time as I can talking to people who support the letter trying to understand why they are sure they are right and what they think of those of us who think their assurance is misplaced. I am sure letters like this and comments like some of the ones here opposing Israel are no path to peace because they encourage anger on all sides and get away from the patient working through of details with mutual respect which is the only way to peacefully resolve the situation. The people who wrote the letter seem sure they know how God views the situation in Israel and Palestine and know what God wants done about it. While they don't explicitly say it, they also seem sure that most Jewish leaders including the leaders of the Jewish Reform and Conservative movements are far from God in their understanding of this situation. Many bad things have happened and do happen because human beings are sure they know what God wants and are superior in that respect to many other equally decent and pious human beings. That is not a path to peace. It is a path to war. As we can see on this page, there are people sharing what they are sure God wants on both sides of this issue. The world would benefit from less human certainty that we know exactly what God thinks, much more compassion for those we disagree with, open and frequent communication between all sides on issues like this one, and lots of mutual respect.

    by David Marshak

    October 18, 2012

  54. I applaud this letter for its timely call for justice. It complies with what both international law and our morals have told us. All aid to Israel must be suspended if they continue to carry out ethnic cleansing and apartheid policies against another people.

    by Talal Nabulsi

    October 18, 2012

  55. (continued) cause of the continuing conflict. Americans would resist if their land were being constantly and forcibly stolen. One cannot expect any other response from Palestinians. They are human beings of equal value with any other, including Americans and Israelis.

    by Caruthers Sebastian

    October 17, 2012

  56. Congress needs to adhere to American law. No country that flagrantly and egregiously violates human rights should be the recipient of MILITARY aid. Evidence that Israel is such a violator, and has been such a violator for decades, is legion, and has been copiously documented by many human rights organizations, including B'Tselem. Israel's human rights abuses include torture, abductions and imprisonment without trial, and the seizure of land and the destruction of homes and other property without any compensation whatever. Israel's 65-year, unremitting, forcible seizure of Palestinian land (look at a map) is not needed for "security" or "defense," which is why it is proscribed by the international law to which America is a signatory. It is why no other country in the last 100+ years has found such an occupation necessary----not even Russia in relation to Germany, although two german invasions nearly destroyed Russia. To claim that Israeli "defense" reqiires it to bulldoze Palestinian homes and olive groves, and to give Palestinian land to Jewish civilian settlers from Brooklyn, is ludicrous. Constant Israeli forcible seizure of Palestinian land is

    by Caruthers Sebastian

    October 17, 2012

  57. A war on the Palestinian people. A war to flatten Gaza and the West Bank, and drive out the people. The goal is total destruction. Good people everywhere must strengthen their commitments to build an even stronger international campaign to boycott, divest and sanction Israel. A worldwide movement. And the American Jewish community must remain actively involved in the BDS campaign. Let's make it clear: Israel does NOT speak for the American Jewish community! American aid that helps Israel commits crimes against humanity must be stopped, and any moral person, Christian, Muslim, or Jew, should see this.

    by Ben Silverstein

    October 17, 2012

  58. In scrolling through the comments, I have to wonder if those who are offended even read this letter. It appropriately calls for accountability on all sides of the issue: both the Palestinians and the Israelis should be held accountable for their actions; likewise, the U.S. government should comply with U.S. laws. What is so objectionable about this request? If, as some seem to believe, the Israelis are blameless, then a careful review of their actions should reflect that, shouldn’t it? If, however, they are violating international law, then continued support by the U.S. makes us an accomplice. As Christians, we are the hands and feet of the Prince of Peace, a truth that seems conveniently overlooked by many who profess the mantle of Christianity. This letter has gone a long way toward restoring my faith. Thank you.

    by Carmel Mawle

    October 17, 2012

  59. Thank you, PCUSA, for acting on Christian values. If Jesus walked the holy land today, he would most certainly be in an Israeli prison.

    by Kerry Fina

    October 17, 2012

  60. Thank you PCUSA for actually publishing this letter to congress on your website. While I have not done an exhaustive search, so far I am unable to locate (maybe my oversight) the letter or even a reference to it on either the NCC or UMC or UMC Council of Bishops sites. If my portrayal is accurate, does that strike anyone as questionable or odd?

    by Richard Woods

    October 17, 2012

  61. Unfortunately the NCC and associated denominations who wrote and signed this letter fail to recognize who they are, where they came from and the location of the future Capitol of all believers. This is not to suggest Israel should not be held accountable to the humanitarian standards of the Law and Prophets. It is to claim that the NCC and its constituents have lost site of their own spiritual connection with Israel and failed to authentically represent God's entire Word in this letter. Publishing this letter, even if its claims are true, was a very shortsighted and foolish strategy. It has already damaged the budding alliance among Christians and Jews. This will adversely impact our mission to lead Jews to Jesus. Remember Him? But this is not surprising at all. Prophetically speaking, it is clear that US national support for Israel will diminish as will support from "religious' Christianity once the persecutuion against believers increases and unauthentic followers of Christ fall away. God will then make clear to the Jews who their real friends are in the world as the time nears to set up His throne in Jerusalem. Maranatha.

    by Richard Woods

    October 17, 2012

  62. It was time! Im so happy. We need to stop this agression against the palestinian christians. Israel is using the aid for destroy the Christianism in the Holy Land. Stand Up and support the freedom of Palestine and the Christian Heritage of the Palestinian People.

    by Jacob

    October 17, 2012

  63. You who judge will be judged. Prophecy is clear And its clear that those who agree to this don't understand.

    by Catherine

    October 16, 2012

  64. Congratulations to the brave signers of this letter. It is about time that the crimes of the terrorist country that calls itself Israel be exposed and condemned. It is a country made by stealing land from the indigenous people without their consent. Homes stolen, crops destroyed, wells poisoned, water stolen, checkpoints and walls imprisoning the Palestinians. the Jews are more barbaric than the Nazis. Israel should never have been created, and the sooner it is dismantled the more chance there will be for peace in this world. No more US Aid for the criminal country called Israel. The old testament was written by the Jews so they said everything is ours. It is the Jewish Book of Fairy Tales.

    by Sally Howland

    October 16, 2012

  65. Finally!! The leaders of major Christian denominations have taken an ethical, moral stance on the situation in Palestine. . Such ethical positions can only strengthen the church. The truth sets us free -- let us hope that this is the beginning of setting the Palestinians free from apartheid in their homeland.

    by Louise Legun

    October 16, 2012

  66. "The Jesus I follow teaches us to love our neighbor." The authors and their supporters might consider loving their Jewish neighbors and treating us as moral equals not inferiors. Sadly many pious followers of Jesus can't do that. "Every day people in the West Bank witness to the path of nonviolence and are called terrorists for it." They certainly aren't viewed as terrorist sympathizers because they are non-violent. "courageous, ethical Jews (of which there are a growing number)" That most of us are neither is a very old insult. It has no merit but nothing will change the minds of some Christians and Muslims about that. "As it was in the days of the prophet Daniel, the hand of God has written on the wall, those who oppress their neighbor in the name of God have been weighed in the balance and have been found wanting. Their days are numbered." This is supersessionism. Christians use our own scriptures against us as if they better follow them than we do. I have no idea what to do about what amounts to Neo-Anti-Semitism justified by talking about how bad off the people in the West Bank and Gaza are. Hamas, Hezbollah and other groups are using them as surrogates in a war against Israel that has been hot and cold since Israel was founded. Of all the nations in the world only the Jewish nation is to be denied a state. And to that end moral requirements are imposed on that state which no other state has ever met whether at war or not.

    by Dave Marshak

    October 16, 2012

  67. Many of the comments chastising the signers of this letter for denying the right of Israel to defend itself against its enemies have missed the point of the letter. It is not seeking to limit the right of self-defense. It is calling for Israel to cease its suppression of Palestinians in the occupied territories (now extending to Arab citizens of Israel) and its continued expropriation of their property. In particular, they are calling upon the government of the United States to ensure, as required by the acts of appropriation passed by Congress and signed by numerous Presidents, that the arms and munitions furnished to the Israelis to use in their defense, are not used in this campaign of ethnic cleansing, which violates not only U.S. statutes, but international law. There is no question of either American Christians, their Churches, or the United States government approving or ignoring acts of terrorism and other violence perpetrated against Jews and Israel and elsewhere. The resolutions condemning the same are legion in the annals of mainline Protestant churches, the U.S. Congress and the State Department alike. But Americans of whatever faith who champion the cause of Zionism must recognize the indisputable fact staring them in the face - until the Arabs of historic Palestine, Christian and Muslim, on either side of the Green line, live in peace and security, and enjoy the equal protection of the law as their Jewish neighbors, there will be no peace for Israel, no matter how many guns and missiles they arm themselves, no matter how many fences and walls they build, no matter how many foreign politicians they buy. As it was in the days of the prophet Daniel, the hand of God has written on the wall, those who oppress their neighbor in the name of God have been weighed in the balance and have been found wanting. Their days are numbered.

    by William Dalton

    October 16, 2012

  68. Prophecy being full-filled. Hate me but I speak the truth. Most, if not all of the signers of this letter are already not in-line with God's word so why would this surprise anyone? I see America going down hill fast and many false prophets are alive and well today that are and will deceive many. Very sad times we live in and amazing at the number of people who follow blindly so many false teachers. The road is wide that leads to destruction, but narrow is the gate that leads to righteousness, paraphrased from memory, but, truth. Guided by His Spirit, I will always speak out in Truth and try my best to present in love as well although I fail miserably at times to be loving when it comes to these false teachers.

    by Mike Abrams

    October 16, 2012

  69. I'm an evangelical and a Presbyterian, and not always in agreement with the PCUSA. But I think this letter was appropriate. Christians must stand up to oppression, no matter what government is the oppressor. To give Israel an exemption from human rights based on prooftexts from the Bible makes no sense. Also, keep in mind that many Palestinians are Christians.

    by Bill Cook

    October 16, 2012

  70. Israel's venomous and racist oppression of the Palestinian people since the beginning of its history in 1948 should have had American Christians and Jews of conscience protesting U.S. complicity in that settler colonialist project from the beginning. Israel stole that land in a savage and remorselessly brutal conquest in 1948 and expelled 720,000 Palestinian Arabs to lives of poverty and homelessness. Then, in 1967, it stole the remaining 22% of Palestine. An "investigation" is not needed. The horrors of racist Israeli oppression are overt and explicit. Christian churches and courageous, ethical Jews (of which there are a growing number) should be demanding not an investigation but an immediate end to all aid to that racist state that stole another people's homeland and should be insisting on the transformation of racist Israel into a genuine egalitarian democracy. But of course the U.S. is fully complicit in that colonialist crime and will pay no attention to Jews and Christians who want us to become an ethical country that truly cares about human rights.

    by breakingthesilence

    October 16, 2012

  71. As an American Jew, I am encouraged by this letter and unhappy only that a similar letter would not be joined in by any major US Jewish denomination. For too long, American Jews have allowed themselves to be used as cheerleaders by successive Israeli governments in ways contrary both to the long-term interests of the US in the Middle East and to those of the Jewish community in Israel-Palestine. I hope that those in office listen to this letter and base US policy in the Middle East on US interests including concern for the human rights of all inhabitants of the Middle East. At the same time, American Jews should reject the equation of Jewish interests with those of the Israeli government.

    by Dr Stephen Oren

    October 16, 2012

  72. Thank you for your prophetic witness to the truth about the human rights violations that cause this conflict to continue. Peace with justice is the lasting peace, not peace through domination. It is against God's kingdom and Word to abuse others. We should not be supporting the Israeli government for its apartheid and illegal settlements, theft of land and water rights from the Palestinians. Just think about this. What would you do if someone put a tent in your backyard, called for the military to protect them there, then asked others to join in putting other tents. You watch your olive trees poisoned and your home demolished. Every day you face checkpoints that are always changing and you are blocked from getting to schools, hospitals, work. Where you used to worship in Jerusalem, there now stands a huge wall and only some get passes sometimes. Life under occupation is neither just nor peaceful. Every day people in the West Bank witness to the path of nonviolence and are called terrorists for it. The path of God is to love all of God's children and not create outcasts or to abuse others. Go visit with those who will show you what is really happening in the West Bank and even inside Israel to the Bedouins and Arabs. We need a just peace.

    by Rev. Catherine L. Alder

    October 16, 2012

  73. Thank you for taking a stand Gradye and others! It saddens me to no end that our country gives so much money to Israel, when they continuously violate international law and U.N. resolutions related to human rights. Those who are so angry about this letter, do you really think the Prince of Peace would want Israel, the USA, or us as indivisuals taking people's land, destroying their homes, illegally detaining people without just cause. Would your Jesus really support the racist state that Israel has become. I don't know who you are following, but the Jesus I follow has no place for that kind of hatred. The Jesus I follow teaches us to love our neighbor. The Jesus I follow even says love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you. The Jesus I follow says blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Christian Zionists, what Jesus do you follow? I am just curious.

    by John Morgan

    October 16, 2012

  74. Thank you for this courageous and timely letter. Your principled stance will be remembered when the time comes that all acknowledge the injustice of Israel's occupation and the U.S. support (military aid, diplomatic, corporate, etc.) behind it.

    by Anna Baltzer

    October 16, 2012

  75. No group of people are accepted or "chosen" by God if they walk in unrighteousness. I'm very glad to see that pcusa is looking towards making peace rather than encouraging the continued fighting in the Middle East. The US has been encouraging oppression in the region through its miliary support. Jesus taught us plainly that our weapons are not carnal, and we do not war against flesh and blood. May Christians learn to discern what is righteous from what is deception! Jesus brought the message of peace, not segregation and oppression.

    by brian

    October 16, 2012

  76. God will be the ultimate judge! Beware..God Bless Isarel...Pray for the Peace of Isarel

    by Tammy Binkley

    October 15, 2012

  77. What a disgrace! Asking to the US Congress to stop aiding Israel? I believe this is like asking US to doom itself, because when GOD blessed Israel He said, I will bless those whose bless you and I will curse those who curse you. Furthermore read Psalm 129:5 May all who hate Zion be turned back in shame. Psalm 122:6-9 6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. 7 May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.” 8 For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.” 9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity. Israel, just like any other nation in the world has the right to defend herself, from anyone who threatens her. Hope US Congress will not accept this.

    by Avy Cavazos

    October 15, 2012

  78. Many thanks to these Christian leaders for their willingness to sign this letter calling for justice and following the call of Christ.

    by Carol Hylkema

    October 15, 2012

  79. This is actually against God's Word. It also comes against Israel.. we must pray for Israel, not attack her, She is in the middle of being surrounded by her enemies. The Current Administration does not understand this and gives arms and supplies to Israel's enemies. This is treason against Israel, and this administration says Israel is a friend? How stupid PCUSA by signing this document has revealed itself to be. With the Advent of this letter, America, if Congress appreoves this, you have signed your doom. You have turned your back on the Lord Thy God and have walked away from 2 chronicles 7:14 And you, who instigated and forced this letter to be done, The Lord thy God will have his way with you and you will be defeated, not by man but by The God of all Creation Himself. Amen

    by J Banfield

    October 15, 2012

  80. We had some criticism of the letter and now we have praise which dismisses everything said by the critics without responding to any specifics. And that is the way it has been going in this liberal Christian and Jewish non-dialog. People talk about other people without engaging the people whose views upset them. Things are rolled up to a very high level and few people are interested in working through a mutual understanding of the details. The letter ignores the point of view of most Jewish leaders as if what we think is not worth considering. I heard the debate about divestment at General Assembly 2012. Advocates of divestment dismissed the reasoning of Jews who oppose divestment. Somehow a lot of people have convinced themselves we prevail by lies and threats not because we have reason and superior arguments on our side. That is a very old way of explaining the influence Jews and Judaism have had on the world. It is wrong now and it has always been wrong. The letter also ignores the fact that larger and richer countries are at war with Israel and Israel needs arms to deter their aggression.

    by David Marshak

    October 15, 2012

  81. "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curseth thee..." Genesis 12:3 KJV

    by Susan Richardson

    October 15, 2012

  82. Thank you, Gradye, and your ecumenical colleagues, for signing this important letter. May those who have ears listen.

    by Laurel Nelson

    October 15, 2012

  83. You really need to be very cautious about this one folks! Any action has always been the result of the Palestinians...to ditz the Jewish people, the CHOSEN people, is to defy God's Word! Tread lightly on this one for our country's security is otherwise at risk...seek His Word and find your answers there, not in a letter to Congress! You who twist the origin of the Apostles had better really think on this one!

    by Deel

    October 15, 2012

  84. Thank you for taking the prophetic role of the church seriously. The illegal occupation violates both Jewish and Christian ethical norms and undermines any hope for peace in the region.

    by Robert Trawick

    October 14, 2012

  85. The unholy marriage between Zionists and the Christian Right brings together the Jewish Settler and the Anti-Semite. What bring together the persecutor of Jews and those Jews who support a Jewish Homeland are their hatred of the Arabs, the vilification of Islam, and the de-humanization of Palestinians. The Christians are not friends of the Jewish Homeland, it is hoped this is the final sign before the Jews in mass accept Jesus and stop being Jews and become Christians. The Tradition of Jewish Humanism is being neglected in the Popular Press. Israel's despotic and draconian human rights record is swept under the rug. The cruelty of the Settler towards the Indigenous Community, though a historical constant from the first Jewish settlements to the present is denied by the defenders of Israel. In this Justification Biblical Myths takes the place of serious historical research. The totalitarian worldview stigmatizes compassion for the victims of Pioneer Communities. The exclusion of the Palestinians from the Human Race was the ideology that removed from open discussion that in fact Israel was morally on the same level as the US, Canada, South Africa, Australia, or New Zeeland. Where settlers prosper the original peoples suffer. The grievous wrongs done to the Palestinians are never given the exposure it demands in the news, in our schools and in our churches. Religion plays a prominent role in most Settler States, even among the Secular People. Both Israel and South Africa were called Zion by the settlers, giving the settlers not original inhabitants the right to the land, as decreed by God. In the US Manifest Destiny made the conquest of the land an order from God. Religion plays a central role in the exclusion of people from their homes. When the land is the chosen land for God's chosen people, those not chosen by God do not belong there. When the Pioneer is chosen and the indigenous people are not. Because of the role of Religion in the settlement of Israel and the West Bank there is often confusion about its implications. Narrow interpretations of the Bible make Israel important to the Christian Right in the United States. When the Christian Right supports Israel's expansion of Jewish settlements it is not for humanitarian reasons, but as proof of the second coming of Christ. It is insane for the Zionist to accept this disingenuous help form the Anti-Semite. The Christian support of a Jewish Homeland in hopes of conversions to Christ by Jews in Israel does not make the Anti-Semite a friend of the Jew. By allying with the Christian Right the Zionist have reached a moral low. Michael Joseph Francisconi Dillon, Montana

    by Michael Joseph Francisconi

    October 14, 2012

  86. I am proud of the church leaders who composed and sent this letter to our countries leaders and thank them all. I have met many Palestinians and Israelis who agree that the only way to peace is through honoring human rights with justice. At present, the Israeli government is aggressively taking more and more land, destroying more olive trees, and squeezing Palestinians out of their homes and land. I will not keep silence in the face of this brutality. I am glad our church leaders are courageous enough to speak out, too. Judaic and Christian values demand that we honor each other with respect and morality.

    by Pauline Coffman

    October 14, 2012

  87. The Presbyterians' efforts to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation and to boycott Israeli products from the Occupied Palestinian Territories are what have brought me back to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The General Assembly's endorsement of this letter only reinforces my decision. This is clearly the right thing to do. Injustice, violence, and racism need to be condemned wherever they take place in the world. But Israeli injustice, violence, and racism are in exceptional need of condemnation, both because of their severity and because the US is actively complicit in these atrocities.

    by Bob Ross

    October 14, 2012

  88. A good letter. I believe the churches have been silent for too long on this question--Israel's occupation and denial of basic human rights of the Palestinians. I understant the impulse to avoid taking a stand -- the mainline churches and Jews were allied over civil rights, and Vietnam, and much else. And no one likes to be accused of "bias" or anti-semitism. But the truth is apparent to anyone who pays attention to the situation in Palestine--the checkpoints, the seizure of land and water, the slow motion ethnic cleasnsing. Americans just shouldn't support this. I applaud your initiative.

    by Scott McConnell

    October 14, 2012

  89. As a young adult member of the PC-USA currently in Div. school, I am so happy to see the PC-USA taking the lead on this important issue. If we want the church to grow, we need to continually be speaking truth to power. Standing up for justice no matter how unpopular, is what will help this church in the long run.

    by kyle cristofalo

    October 14, 2012

  90. Thank you for highlighting the consistent violation of human rights by Israel, which is unfortunately ignored by the mainstream media. The record is painfully clear. A cursory glance at Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International or B'Tselem reports shows that Israel needs to clean up its act. An arms embargo is the least that needs to be done just to be compliant with US law. This issue has been on-going for decades and requires a proactive approach.

    by Foru

    October 13, 2012

  91. Apparently, I can no longer support Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestinian lands. (See "The Zionist Story," a 1 hr. and 15 minute documentary made by a former reserve Israeli Defense Force ("IDF") member: http://warincontext.org/the-zionist-story/ regarding this ethnic cleansing.) In other words, Israeli acts that used to be prohibited under International law and ethical norms now are prohibited under International law, ethical norms, and the Bible. So now I have treat both the Israelis and the Palestinians fairly. Treating Palestinians unfarily will be a hard habit for us American Christians to break.

    by Richard

    October 13, 2012

  92. How interesting that a string of the usual Zionist mantras arrive on democratic, poor little Israel and Hamas rockets, hand-chopping by pakistanis etc. The letter was moderate, deferred to Israel, while the comments never admit the violent, humiliating, constant and illegal acts israel insists are needed for its "security" in a stolen land. So few Christians speak out, and Israel has the whole US Senate and most of the 'Reps' in congress, but it is never enough. Everyone has to kowtow toIsrael right or wrong.

    by rosemerry

    October 13, 2012

  93. As a christian I am delighted by your brave initiative in the true spirit of what christianity stands for namely love, justice and truth.Kudos to you for your brave and anguished testimony against Israel and implicitly its repeated and unpunished crimes against Palestinians (apartheid wall, jewish only roads, landthieving settlements, wanton bombings and assassinations etc.) and its neighbours particularly the Lebanese. As you rightly point out, this increasingly intolerable situation is regretfully made possible by US complicity obtained through a strategy of systematic blackmail and lies (as some shameful comments here show) and threat of career destruction by the pro-Israel lobbies against anyone in religion, public office or in the media daring to question the Jewish state's actions and policies against non Jews including the murder of American citizens (ss Liberty, Rachel Corrie etc..) and why successive american administrations have implicitly condoned them.

    by Anthony Joseph Geha Yuja

    October 13, 2012

  94. Mr. Parsons does NOT speak for the denomination and certainly not for the majority of Presbyterians sitting in the pews of American PCUSA churches. This letter far exceeds the Parsons' authority and is neither in keeping with a peacemaking agenda nor within the spirit of recent GA actions. Mr. Parsons is entitled to his personal view but not to represent his view and prejudices as a voice of the church. Where are Parsons and his fellow signers speaking out against the Taliban, worldwide, and the attempted murder of 14 year old Pakistani, Malala Yousufzai, not to mention profoundly egregious human rights violations around the world? Mr. Parsons' (et. al.) letter reveals a selective bias in areas of human rights and peacemaking, and a failure to grasp the horrendously dangerous situation facing Israelis and the Palestinians who are being used by terrorist organizations for their own violent goals.

    by Doug Huneke

    October 12, 2012

  95. Where are the letters requesting investigation or withholding of U.S. aid to Egypt for oppressing Christians and to other countries for tormenting minority believers? And what of aid to the Palestinians, which enables the murder of Christians, Jews, and Muslims, too? And to Pakistan which supports killing Hindus? And so on and so on. But you chose to deal only with the Jews. Have you been reading Martin Luther's book, "The Jews and their Lies?" Give it a rest.

    by Edward Stern

    October 11, 2012

  96. It is no wonder why the number of Christians in the USA report last week stated that America is no longer a Christian country! Only 42% of people polled said they called themselves Christian. I cannot believe how short sited and poorly informed of Biblical knowledge these church leaders are today. If they would only go and live in the middle east for a year or two they would soon understand their "shortcomings." Israel is today's most passionate state in the world - man to man. She is first during other countries tragedies to show up for godly assistance. Church people get yourselves some truth materials regarding Israel and begin your trip back to reality! I would start with a magazine called "Israel Today" out of Jerusalem. Stop drinking that koo-aid ! Salvation is of the Jews - and Jesus said that...

    by John Wilson

    October 11, 2012

  97. What is wrong with you american christians? Are you not paying attention that the Word and the Holy Spirit both are calling the Bride of the Messiah to stand with Israel? Islam is killing christians all over the world, and you condemn Israel? GOD help you, US!

    by Anchal

    October 11, 2012

  98. Instead of drawing moral equivalence between Jewish settlers and murderous Muslim preachers, perhaps you should pay attention to your ever dwindling membership. Where were you when there were no settlements and Jews were not allowed access to their holy places? To this day, Palestinians deny that there ever was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Hamas and others don't want two states; they insist on the elimination of Israel and you conveniently ignore their irredentist rhetoric. Your position, more than any Israeli action, is the real obstacle to peace by providing Palestinians with more excuses to avoid making peace.

    by Godofredo Herzog

    October 11, 2012

  99. Hypocrites: Given the ongoing wholesale murder of its own civilians by the despots in Iran and Syria, and the complete lack of civil rights in most other Middle Eastern and Third World countries, you have once again singled out Israel, a democratic nation constantly under attack by those who seek to end its existence, as a human rights violator. Why don't you also request the US to end aid to Egypt because of its treatment of the Coptics, who don't commit terrorist acts? Or end it's relationship with the Saudis, who deny human rights on a daily basis? Because they are not Jewish! Clean up your own house before publicly bashing another. You should be ashamed of yourselves!

    by Elliott

    October 11, 2012

  100. As a Christian, I am deeply saddened that these off shoots of mainline denominations have strayed so far from biblical teaching. Please do not think this letter represents the majority of Christian beliefs. There are many, many Christians who staunchly support Israel and her right not only to exist, but also to defend herself. I wonder if these groups also sent a letter asking congress to reconsider their monetary support and loan forgiveness for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt? Our refusal to support Israel will only serve to hurt our country and promote the spread of terrorism and loss of freedom both here and in the rest of the world. Praying for peace.

    by Kasi Pollock

    October 10, 2012

  101. This letter epitomizes the sanctimonious hypocrisy so rampant today regarding Israel, America, and all of Western civilization among all those whose moral compass is completely shattered, whether they style themselves as "Christians" or, more honestly, covert Marxists. As the Jewish Talmud teaches, "Those who are kind to the cruel -- today, the savage jihadis who reign in Gaza, Judea/Samaria, and Lebanon -- will ultimately be cruel to the innocent." And there will be a terrible price to be paid by those who arrogantly sacrifice civilization for abject barbarism in the name of self-loathing guilt, self-serving moral equivalence, and ersatz "compassion."

    by William

    October 10, 2012

  102. Try going to Israel if it is in Arab hands...you will get your head cut off or worse. Try living in the middle of raging crazies that want to kill you in the name of their laughable religion. Israel is doing what anyone would do to stay alive.

    by paula coke

    October 10, 2012

  103. How extraordinarily odd that you do not want to condition Palestinian aid upon their not firing rockets into Iraeli schools and other civilian areas. Do you not find that firing rockets into schools, homes and other civilian areas to be a violation of human rights? And how peculiar that you do not call for the U.S. to condition aid to the Palestinians upon their stopping the murder of young women in so-called "honor killings." Do you not find the "honor killings" of women to be a violation of human rights? And how extraordinary that you do not call for conditioning aid to Egypt and many other Muslim countries upon their cessation of the persecution and murder of their minority religious groups--notably Christians who are being murdered and driven out of their home countries in Egypt, Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries. How extraordinary is that? Don't you think that the persecution of minority groups by Muslim majorities, including murder and drving them from their homes countries are violations of human rights? How astonishing it is to to see self-righteous hypocracy serving as a cover for old-fashioned anti-semitism. Because, after all, you can feel smug about that, can't you?

    by Barbara Levy, Ph.D.

    October 10, 2012

  104. Scripture says that in the last days all nations will turn against Israel...we are almost there. It's sad that many in the church have forgotten the root from which they have been grafted. If, as gentile believers in a Jewish Messiah, we are not joined with our Jewish roots then which Messiah are we worshipping? I am not saying we condone any action of a Jewish person but really, why is Israel so unfairly portrayed as the perpetrator of human rights violations when the nations surrounding them abound in such violations. Anit-semitism abounds. Sadly, even the church.

    by Holli Abrinica

    October 10, 2012

  105. Israel is in need of those weapons in order to stay in existence. The two state solution is the only way that the Palestinians' cannot vote Israel out of being a sovereign country.

    by John

    October 10, 2012

  106. It is sad that these Christian leaders ignore the key human rights abuses in the Middle East. They ignore the massacres in Syria, the persecution of the Coptic Christians in Egypt, the elimination of the Christian communities in Gaza, among others. Israel is the only country in the Middle East with a growing Christian community. Israel is the only democracy that provides for freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom from fear, and freedom of assembly. Personally, my wife and I remember being in Jerusalem on Christmas even in 2006 where we heard numerous Christmas songs being played on bells throughout the city. It was beautiful and moving.

    by Richard Klein, Ph.D.

    October 10, 2012

  107. These groups are hardly representative of the teachings of Christ having in many cases rejected some of all of the scripture as being inspired and treating it as the writings of man. The term Liberal Churches might have been better used.

    by TOP

    October 10, 2012

  108. I agree with the comment regarding the failure of the church leaders to condemn human rights violations in other counties with more egregious records of abuses and focusing on alleged Israeli violations. Additionally, I should like to point out that there has been no agreement about borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state, so labeling "settlements" in the Jerusalem suburbs as illegal, is unjustified.

    by Philip Charney

    October 10, 2012

  109. The fact remains that taking away the means for Israel to defend itself against an almost daily barrage of hundreds of Hamas launched Katusha rockets and surrounded by the most hostile array of enemies any nation has had to face in the history of the world would almost certainly mean the destruction of Israel and probably the Jewish people. Disarming Hamas and it's allies would almost certainly mean....peace. Have any of these signers been to Israel? Go there! Seek the truth! Oppression by the Palestinian people at the hands of Israel is a MYTH perpetuated by those who share their dreams with Ali Khamenei in Iran and his Sh'ite puppets in Gaza and Hezbollah..the real violators of human rights who build nuclear weapons and want Sharia law for everyone!

    by Brad

    October 10, 2012

  110. You people obviously have no idea what goes on in Israel or the rest of the Middle East. Israel is the only country that supports women's rights, that educates every sect, gives everyone the right to vote. Israel, for its size, has contributed more to the fields of medicine & technology than any other country in the world. Many of the technological advances that we have and use in this country were developed in Israel. It is a small country surrounded by countries that would like nothing more than to wipe it off the face of the earth. What kind of religious people are you. How can you read your Bible and pray and call yourselves good Christians and not support the country that is the cradle of civilization for all of our faiths.

    by Nancy Kemper

    October 10, 2012

  111. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recognizes the defensive "Just War," as originated by St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas and further developed by international scholars. Similarly, Article 51 of the United Nations Charter recognizes the right of all U.N. member nation-states to "individual or collective self-defense." Why the Presbyterian Church only condemns Israel's military defense, but remains silently uncritical of Palestinian terrorism, human rights violations and incitement of hatred of Israel and Jews, defies explanation! This is not the position of real Christians, but only the imposition of a "double standard," requiring of Israel, conduct that is not required of other nations! For example, the "discrimination principle" of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, requires discrimination between combatants and non-combatants in warfare; yet Palestinian terrorists, such as those which fire rockets and mortars into southern Israel, deliberately target civilian "soft targets," rather than focus on military installations. One can only conclude from the "one-sided" nature of this statement in not requiring similar sanctions against Palestinians for violence and incitement of hatred, that the statement of the Presbyterian Church carries the foul taint of Anti-Semitism and runs contrary to the true teachings of Jesus Christ to embrace respect and tolerance for all of God's children!

    by Mike Woloshin

    October 10, 2012

  112. It is indeed sad to see such a one-sided approach to foreign relations. It is within our religious traditions to tell the truth, and even tell truth to power. But to focus on one area of the world while others are burning with hotter intensity is dishonest on the one hand, and a perversion of priorities on the other. No country should write a blank check. Rather our engagement with our partners, both Israeli and Palestinian, should be active and robust, with our profound presence in the region and support. Our peacemaking is not helped by reducing anyone's aid monies. It is supplemented, rather, by our working alongside the parties and allowing them to flourish, all the while helping them directly to see the error of their ways -- in private.

    by Rabbi Jonathan Biatch

    October 10, 2012

  113. These are all nice people representing denominations which have worked for decades doing things like this which embolden the Palestinians to make unreasonable demands. Such work done in the name of peace will never bring peace. Iran and others supply a never ending flow of terror weapons to the Palestinians. It is unreasonable to expect Israel not to defend itself.

    by David Marshak

    October 10, 2012

  114. And I am in favor of your churches paying taxes on all the land and stock holding you possess. It is shameful that in a time of incredible governmental debt, you sit together with major corporations hiding your gains. Only when you act as responsible American citizens do you have the moral right to demand anything from our government. At that time, you might look into US aid to Egypt, Libya, Turkey and other countries as well.

    by Hilel Salomon

    October 10, 2012

  115. What an extraordinary display of rank hypocrisy! At a time when gays, Christians and women are mistreated, persecuted and murdered all over the Middle East EXCEPT in Israel, what does this coalition of Pharisees choose to focus on and condemn? Israel! Their obsession with the Jewish State blinds them to considerably worse human rights violations all over the world, making this declaration a sick joke. In so doing, the leaders of these churches are losing their moral standing since they have lost their moral compass. Siding with evil is an odd choice for people who claim to foster Christ's message of love and forgiveness.

    by J.J. Surbeck

    October 10, 2012

  116. Perhaps the authors forget that the Jews were given the land of Israel by G-d, that they have lived in the land ever since, that there were no Muslims until the time of Muhammed hundreds of years later, that there were no "Palestinians" until the 20th century, that the Israelis are merely defending themselves against those who wish to "drive them into the sea", i.e., murder them, that the effect of the policy advocated in the letter is to succumb to terrorism, the opposite of peace. Yes, again others are more than willing to sacrifice the Jews for the false hope of respite of conflict. You should all be ashamed.

    by Chuck

    October 10, 2012

  117. Anti - Semitism exists in these "Religious" people and they do not represent most Americans. Their failure to strongly condemn the actions of the Palestinians which do not recognize the Jewish State and are acting daily with missiles and other means to destroy Israel.

    by max

    October 10, 2012

  118. Pleased to see a Christian challenge of the political consequences of prolonged media filtering out of honest reporting of the ugly reality of U.S. enabled Zionism at work in the last white settler colony of modern times

    by The Rev. Robert W. Andrews

    October 9, 2012

  119. I am in complete agreement with your lettler. Unfortunately my representative ( Pennyslivian senators Casery and Tomey and Rep Doyle) are willing to sell their morality for contributions and votes. I pray that you are successful in finds justices for the Palestinian.

    by James Shack

    October 9, 2012

  120. I am in complete agreement with the letter sent to Congress. The investigation must be done because as stated our military support is a major factor in the continuation of the Occupation of the Palestinian people. Until that ceases there will be no peace.

    by Rev.James Ray

    October 9, 2012

  121. Thank you, Presbyterian Church Leaders, for signing this letter to the Congress. Why hasn't the media reported this ? What can done to get this out to larger public ?

    by Rev. Rob Coffman

    October 8, 2012

  122. Gradye Parsons, and all the rest of you: once again, your bias is showing. The US government also gives military assistance to Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and other countries with horrible human-rights records. Yet you continue to single out Israel for your condemnation. Does oppression of Christians, Hindus, women, and gays not count in your moral reckoning? Shame on you. You don't speak for me, or the majority of Presbyterians. I am a Presbyterian deacon, but once again am embarrassed to be connected to the PCUSA.

    by David

    October 8, 2012

  123. The PCUSA can be relied on to be sympathetic and understanding with the true bullies and thugs of the world--the North Koreans, Chavez, the Castro brothers, and various Islamic tyrannies--while joining fellow leftists, Christians and otherwise, in flogging the Israelis. This is what has been called oikophobia--a deep-seated revulsion at one's own civilization and a romantic infatuation with the 'other.' How puerile! No wonder the denomination is dying.

    by Allan Gray

    October 8, 2012

  124. Right. A corrupt denomination sees a "troubling,consistent pattern of disregard’ by Israel government for U.S. policies." I see a troubling,consistent pattern of disregard of God's word by the PC(USA). Until the denomination gets its act together, it has no moral authority in this nation or the world. This pronouncement is a joke.

    by James Calvin

    October 8, 2012

  125. Thank you for taking a stand for the teachings of Christ, international human rights law, the laws of the United States and its treaty obligations. However futile it is to protest these illegal actions, it is vital to bear wpublic itness and speak the truth on behalf of our faith community and for those who cannot speak on their own behalf.

    by Jeff Story

    October 8, 2012

  126. Thank you, Gradye, for signing on to this letter. This is so necessary and especially at this time.

    by Melinda Thompson

    October 7, 2012

  127. It is indeed most appropriate that our Stated Clerk has signed this letter; it's consistent with PC(USA) positions over the years and reflects faithful concern for all who are involved and for the necessary application of international standards.

    by Len Bjorkman

    October 7, 2012

  128. Deep gratitude from your Episcopal brethren for this courageous and timely call for justice. We will look for ways to express our support and add our voices to yours.

    by Cotton Fite

    October 5, 2012

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