by Katie Mitchell-Koch, member of WDC Israel-Palestine Task Force
April 17-19 was the Jewish and Palestinian Voices for Peace Kansas tour, hosted by WDC. Speakers were Laura Tillem, Jewish Voice for Peace, Wichita, and Jonathan Kuttab, a Mennonite Palestinian human rights lawyer. Stops included Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church (Wichita), Bethel College (North Newton) and the Ecumenical Campus Ministry Building (Manhattan).
The tour offered context for the “Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine” resolution that will be discussed at the Mennonite Church USA (MC USA) Convention in Orlando in July (http://mennoniteusa.org/resource/delegate-resources/).
The Manhattan event had broad support from Christians, Muslims and others, including Israelis and Palestinians. Bob Atchison, Manhattan Mennonite Church, reflects, “the type of dialogue we had during the event is exactly what is needed.” Without dialogue, peacemaking efforts cannot move forward. Regardless of the delegate decision regarding the resolution, this work is bearing good fruit!
The Wichita discussion asked how we can be both pro-Jewish and pro-Palestinian. In being Pro-Jewish, one must acknowledge the past suffering of the Jewish people through anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, and recognize the Christian Church and Western Civilization’s culpability and complicity in horrific acts. In being Pro-Palestinian, one must acknowledge America’s support of the Palestinian apartheid through weapons sales and direct support ($38 billion from 2016-26), with the support, either direct or complicit, of the Christian church. Yet in being pro-Jewish, one does not have to support the current military actions of the Jewish state, Israel. Likewise, one does not have to support any violent actions taken by Palestinians.
As Christians, we are called to be a voice for peace. Palestinians have formulated a plan of non-violent direct action, with the aim to bring forth peace, and they are asking for our support. The resolution written by MC USA advocates for justice and building bridges with our local Jewish communities. Incidents of anti-Semitism are up 80% in the U.S. this year. It is important now that we support our Jewish neighbors. This timely resolution affirms our desires for peace and ties with all of God’s children.
For a list of resources to learn more about Israel-Palestine, see: http://mennowdc.org/committees-task-forces/. If you have questions, concerns, or ideas for future events, contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.