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After two episodes focused on the United States Southern Border, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s immigration webinar series turned its attention this week to Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, and the broader Middle East.
I was born in Nazareth, but spent five years of my childhood in Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, where my father was the Anglican priest.
A webinar posted last week by three ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency speaks to the announcement expected Wednesday that Israel will, with the blessing of U.S. government officials, annex about 30 percent of the territory of the West Bank, which would affect about 750,000 Palestinians living in land occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war.
Amid weeks of global preoccupation with the personal, social, economic, and political impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the plight of the Palestinian people bears a growing, striking resemblance to George Floyd’s plea, “I can’t breathe.” Ever since 1967, the knee of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has been increasingly and relentlessly pressing down on the Palestinians’ neck.
Pal Craftaid, a ministry of compassion and justice to and with Palestinians, was founded in 1993 as the result of a Presbyterian Peacemaking Program trip to Israel/Palestine by the Rev. Elizabeth (Liz) Knott shortly after her retirement as executive of the Synod of Alaska Northwest. At that time, it appeared that a solution to the issues of Israel/Palestine were close and that she would import Palestinian olive wood sculptures and needlework from artisans on the ground and sell them at churches until peace happened. For the first 15 years, Liz and her close friend Connie schlepped boxes and suitcases everywhere, selling and interpreting the issues in the region. All profits from the sales were returned to partner organizations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Saying Palestinians have a right to demonstrate peacefully and with dignity in their decades-long conflict with Israel, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has joined more than a dozen other Christian denominations and organizations in a joint statement calling for an end to violence in the region.