United Church of Christ takes strong stand for a just peace in Israel/Palestine

UCC votes to withdraw financial complicity with Israeli occupation
Thousands of JVP supporters thank UCC in sign-on letter

June 29, 2015 (Cleveland OH)—The United Church of Christ voted overwhelmingly today to approve a resolution calling for concrete action towards a just peace in Israel/Palestine. The vote, which was 508 in favor, 124 against, with 38 abstentions, was the culmination of a process that began in 2005 to end the Church’s complicity in Israel’s nearly half-century-old occupation and other abuses of Palestinian human rights. The resolution included divestment from specific companies that profit from the occupation, a boycott of products produced in illegal Israeli settlements, and advocacy to ensure that foreign aid to Israel does not violate US law regarding countries that engage in human rights abuses. The following are quotes for publication from Jewish Voice for Peace activists present at the UCC General Synod in Cleveland Ohio. For more details see the United Church of Christ Palestine/Israel Network’s press release.  

Laila Berstein, Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston member: “I heard a clarity here of the need to take concrete action, and I have a deep faith that the UCC will be our partner in moving forward towards justice. A groundswell of frustration with the status quo and principled moral clarity has led many members of the United Church of Christ to declare they are no longer satisfied to pray for peace while paying for occupation.

Lev Hirschhorn, Jewish Voice for Peace board member: “I’m honored to be here as the UCC took a courageous step to put their words into action and divest from occupation. My conversations at the General Synod have shown me that we’re on the precipice of a new political moment. Progressives are speaking up, and it’s only a matter of time until Israel is held accountable for its human rights abuses and violations of international law.”

Carolyn Klaasen, Jewish Voice for Peace-New York member: “In the UCC I’ve found a partner not only in ending the Israeli occupation, but in all of our shared work for justice. This is just the beginning of our multi-faith work.”

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Israel takes over ship seeking to break Gaza blockade

Navy boards vessel carrying pro-Palestinian activists in a peaceful operation five years after the deaths of 10 people in an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla

Palestinians hold their national flag as they ride boats during a rally to show support for activists on the Freedom Flotilla III at the seaport of Gaza City on 24 June 2015. The activists failed to reach Gaza, with three boats turning back and the fourth taken over by the Israelis. Photograph: Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

Agence France-Presse, 29 June 2015

Israel’s navy boarded and took over an activist vessel seeking to break its Gaza blockade and was escorting it to port on Monday in an operation that did not use force, the military said.

A flotilla of four boats carrying pro-Palestinian activists had been trying to reach Gaza to highlight the Israeli blockade of the territory, with the attempt coming five years after a similar bid ended in a deadly raid.

Three of the boats were said to have turned back while a fourth, the Marianne of Gothenburg, was boarded by the Israeli navy and was being escorted to an Israeli port.

“In accordance with international law, the Israeli navy advised the vessel several times to change course,” the Israeli military said in a statement.

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Freedom Flotilla III: Activists Sail to Break Gaza Blockade

Robert Lovelace speaks to TRNN via satellite phone from the Freedom Flotilla III, four boats that are attempting to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid

The Real News Network, June 26, 2015

Robert Lovelace is the Former chief of Ardoch Algonquin First Nation in Canada. He is one of the activists onboard the Gaza-bound Marianne av Göteborg with the international Freedom Flotilla Coalition.

Robert Naiman is Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy. Naiman has worked as a policy analyst and researcher at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. He has masters degrees in economics and mathematics from the University of Illinois and has studied and worked in the Middle East. Naiman edits the Just Foreign Policy daily news summary and writes a blog on Huffington Post.

SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: This is The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.
The Freedom Flotilla III, a convoy of aid ships, has set sail to break the Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. Organizers aim to deliver medical supplies to local hospitals and hope to arrive Sunday or Monday. The Flotilla is carrying 70 passengers, including former Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki and Basel Ghattas, an Arab Israel Knesset member. In 2010 a similar effort of the Mavi Marmara ended in bloodshed when Israeli commandos raided the ship and killed ten Turkish activists.

Gaza is home to 1.7 million people, including 1.2 million Palestinian refugees. The Gaza Strip has been under a restrictive military blockade since 2007.

Joining us now from Flotilla III heading to Gaza is Robert Lovelace. Robert is the former chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nations in Canada. Robert, thank you so much for joining The Real News Network.

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Next stop: Gaza

Freedom Flotilla Coalition, 21 June 2015

Around 10 pm Friday, Ship to Gaza’s trawler Marianne of Gothenburg left the port of Messina at the east coast of Sicilia and sailed out on to the Ionian sea through the strait of Messina.

During the coming week Marianne will meet up with the other boats who are part of Freedom Flottila III. Together they will try to break the illegal blockade on Gaza through a peaceful non-violent action. The short stop in Messina was an intensive one with meetings with peace activists and a press conference at the city hall with the mayor of Messina, the famous corruption fighter enemy Renato Accorinti.

On board at Marianne, to participate in this action, you will find:

  • The Swedish journalist, author and social critic Kajsa Ekis Ekman
  • The Swedish-Israeli composer and activist Dror Feiler
  • The Canadanian scholar and activist Robert “Bob” Lovelace, a veteran within movements in support of the Indigenous peoples’ rights
  • The Spanish Member of the European Parliament Ana Maria Miranda Paza (Bloque Nacionalista Galego)
  • Professor Gerd von der Lippe norwegian sport sociologist and former athletics stare.

The following journalists will be attending:

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