Monday, November 23, 2009

ELCA Middle East Network News, the Thanksgiving edition

Middle East Network Newsletter
November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Action on Goldstone Resolution

Take a moment this week to thank your representative for voting"no" or "present" on H. Res. 867 which called on the administration to shelve the "Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict," commonly known as the'Goldstone Report.' The 58 representatives who stood up for transparency, accountability, and respect for international law and human rights need to hear from their supporters. Call today with the message: "Happy Thanksgiving! I'm thankful that you didnot support H. Res. 867. Keep up the good work." Go to to find out how your representative voted.

Find your Representative here

For more information see previous ELCA action alerts at


Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land calls for respect for religious sites

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) reports, "The Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land, comprised of leaders of Jerusalem's Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities, has released a statement calling for respect for the holy sites of all three religions," and goes on to note, "The Nov. 13 statement came in response to recent clashes on the al-Aqsa Mosque compound ..." To read the ELCJHLreport, go to


Augusta Victoria Hospital featured in the Jerusalem Post

In a November 13 article titled, "At Augusta Victoria Hospital, medicine transcends politics," Abe Selig of the Jerusalem Post writes, "Every morning, a big Mercedes bus pulls up outside the Augusta Victoria Hospital and its passengers make their way through the old steel gates ... All are Palestinians from the West Bank, and in many ways their lives depend on this east Jerusalem hospital near Mt. Scopus - either for medical treatments that their local hospitals cannot provide, or for a paycheck." To read the article, go to


Bethlehem University student deported to Gaza by Israeli military

Two months short of completing her bachelor's degree at Bethlehem University, 21 year-old student Berlanty Azzam was forcibly deported to Gaza by the Israeli military who accused her of being in the West Bank illegally. The Israeli human rights organization, Gisha, which has taken up Azzam's case, notes that the military "makes no claim that she poses any security threat," and bases the deportation order on "the fact that her address in the Israeli-controlled Population Registry is listed in Gaza." The case has received the attention of many advocates, including Churches for Middle East Peace found here -, which sent a letter to Secretary Clinton and asked Members of Congress to contact the State Department. As the case works its way through the Israeli court system, Azzam expressed hope and appreciation in a phone call reported by Brother Jack Curran of Bethlehem University: "I'm just waiting to come back to Bethlehem. I'm really praying for a positive answer - really, I am ... God bless you and all of the people who are working so hard to help me - and others like me here in Gaza. Thank you so much!" For more, go to


Plans move forward to expand Gilo settlement

A plan to construct 844 new housing units in the Israeli settlement of Gilo, located in East Jerusalem, received a green light from the Jerusalem Regional Planning Board on November 17. Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now writes, "This does not mean implementation is inevitable - by no means - but it does mean that it now requires the investment of serious political capital to stop." To learn more, go to

The White House issued a statement found here, saying, "We are dismayed at the Jerusalem Planning Committee's decision to move forward on the approval process for the expansion of Gilo in Jerusalem..." and went on to state, "The U.S. also objects to other Israeli practices in Jerusalem related to housing, including the continuing pattern of evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes ..." Churches for Middle East Peace reports on the plans for Gilo in a November 20 Bulletin. Visit for more.


3rd Annual Bethlehem Prayer Service

The 3rd Annual Bethlehem Prayer Service will take place Saturday, December 19, 2009 at 10:00 AM Eastern Time/5:00 PM Bethlehem Time. This joint simulcast service will bring together worshipers at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., with those at the Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, Palestine. The service will be broadcast live at - plan now to join in person or from wherever you are on the globe. For more information and updates, go to


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