This week, the 41st General Council of the United Church of Canada is meeting in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. On 14 Aug. 2012, commissioners debated a report of the Working Group on Israel/Palestine Policy in the United Church of Canada. The discussion is addressing the question of boycotting products from illegal Israeli settlements (i.e., Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories). Discussion is not addressing divestment or the boycott of products from Israel. In the title for this posting, I paraphrase Bruce Gregersen, General Council Officer for Programs, who was reported to have said yesterday that “the report has prompted a widespread debate on the Palestinian situation”.
“This [three-hour debate] has opened up the conversation in the country. There are those who will say you should not have this conversation, that there’s no legitimacy to any conversation that would undertake any criticism of the legitimacy of the settlements,” he said.
“I think what we’ve done as a denomination is to say very directly that yes, it is appropriate to talk about this and we believe it’s vital to talk about this.” (Click here.) The 11-part motion will return to the floor for discussion today, 15 Aug. 2012.
A fellow Ecumenical Accompanier (EA) offered poems to we, Canadian EAs, yesterday, as we watch and wait. Thank you, Larry, for this “contemplative supplement” to the debate at General Council, readings of poems by a Palestinian living in Galilee, named Taha Muhammad Ali, and by Peter Cole: “The Place Itself, or I Hope You Can’t Digest It” and “Coexistence: A Lost and Almost Found Poem” (Click here).
In response, I offer this YouTube video by a sister EA from the Jerusalem Team that followed my team in Spring 2011. In response to my suggestion to ask the young Jahalin Bedouin teen girls about the meaning of “the sea” to them, two EAs invited the girls to dream about water and the sea. In this hope-filled video (click here), they discuss in Arabic and English their dreams as they write poetry. See some of their finished poems here.
For recent updates regarding the Commissioners’ discussion, please click here and here.
Please click here for a response from Kairos Palestine (click here) members.
Please click here for a response from Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) Canada (click here).
For background information about the United Church of Canada’s Working Group report, click here. Scroll down to “Israel/Palestine Report”.
Finally, for information from the recently established United Network for Just Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI), click here.
Join us as we watch and wait. Talk about it within your own circles of friends, family, acquaintances, and new faces. Believe in a just peace for Palestine and Israel…and for our global home.