Friday, March 15, 2013

President Obama to Palestine and Israel

I'm sorry I've been away... tending to matters here and there, my responsibilities on the Board of Friends of Sabeel-North America and preparation for an exciting conference in Dallas on racial disparity in the criminal justice system.  Back to work!

ELCA Peace Not Walls encourages us to lean on the president's itinerary and provides good action steps. Ask President Obama to meet with religious leaders when he visits the Middle East next month; call for a halt to settlement activity; ask his delegation to visit Augusta Victoria Hospital. See the full action alert which provides links for writing to President Obama, Secretary Kerry and your Members of Congress.

Some highlights from the bulletin:
The president has often sought out the views of U.S. religious leaders through his White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and other meetings. It will be important for the President to hear the voices of faith leaders during his visit to the region as well. The Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land consists of leaders of the three Abrahamic faiths, including Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.

Please contact the White House and ask President Obama to meet with the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land during his visit.

As noted in a report issued late last year by the United Nations (U.N.) on the humanitarian impact of the Israeli settlement policy on Palestinians, since 1967, Israel has established about 150 settlements (residential and others) in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; in addition to some 100 “outposts” erected by settlers without official authorization. Three new settlements were approved in 2012 by retroactively ‘authorizing’ such outposts. More than 500,000 people live in these settlements, which are against international law. Additionally, in 2012, one Palestinian was killed and approximately 1,300 injured by Israeli settlers or security forces in incidents directly or indirectly related to settlements, including demonstrations.
Please contact the White House and ask President Obama to urge him to demand, during his visit, a halt to all settlement activity.

The Lutheran World Federation has operated the Augusta Victoria Hospital for the benefit of Palestinian refugees since 1950. The ELCA and other churches around the world have been strong supporters of this effort to meet human need and be a sign of hope over the years. 
Please contact the White House and ask President Obama to have one or more members of his delegation visit the Augusta Victoria Hospital.

Click these to contact President Obama, Secretary Kerry and your Members of Congress.
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This comes from Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP).
Encourage President Obama's Nativity Church Visit
As the president works toward fostering a real and hopeful peace agreement between the Israeli and Palestinian governments, we need to encourage his visit to the Church of the Nativity. Your message will provide President Obama more moral and political support to do the hard work of facilitating an actual peace.
CMEP has been encouraging the president to visit the church since his trip to the region was announced.Click here to send an email of encouragement and hope to the president today.

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Jim Wall writes about the president's itinerary in his Wall Writings blog:
"Unlike 2008, on next week’s trip Obama will not travel to Ramallah. Would the West Bank be too “dangerous”, as Israeli tour guides like to tell tourists or pilgrims? Or could it be that by avoiding Ramallah, Obama would not have to visit the Ramallah burial site of the late Palestinian leader, Yasir Arafat.

"Not to visit Arafat’s Ramallah burial site would be especially egregious since next week’s itinerary already includes Obama visits to several symbolic Israeli sites:

 `In addition to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial that is an obligatory stop for every visiting head of state, the president will lay a wreath at the grave of Theodor Herzl, the writer who is considered the father of modern Zionism.'

"Instead of traveling to Ramallah, President Obama will go to Bethlehem, where he will be received by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"By going to Bethlehem, Obama will see, up close and personal, the wall that surrounds the birthplace of the Christ child.

"With all the excitement over the elevation of Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope, this is a good time to recall that when the now-retired Benedict XVI made a 2009 papal visit to Bethlehem, he was photographed standing in front of a wall with graffiti behind him, illustrating how locals feel about the the occupation wall."

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