Israel, Palestine at Episcopal General Convention

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I wrote on 25 June about attending two Social Justice and International Policy legislative committee meetings (morning and afternoon) where it was standing room only at the 78th Episcopal General Convention (GC) in Salt Lake City. On 3 July, I wrote that the House of Deputies discussed Israel-Palestine restorative justice. The topic of Israel-Palestine was one of the most controversial discussed at GC, after church structure, and marriage.  What I did not write is that B013 Peacemaking Through Political Action was the only resolution that was voted on twice by the House of Deputies.

B013 came out of Committee 7 – Social Justice and International Policy – after six hours of public testimony by witnesses. My own witness was one of those quoted in “Money and the Holy Land: Committee Hears Testimony” in the “House of Deputies News” on 26 June.  There was a followup article: “How best to invest in the Holy Land: Deputies debate divestment” on 27 June.The two sides of the question on whether the Episcopal Church should divest from Israel were: Stay at table, engage to make change vs. Divest, do not profit by occupation. Seven different resolutions on this topic were considered but only B013 made it out of committee, through the House of Bishops, to the House of Deputies.

After B013 was passed by the House of Bishops, the resolution was sent to the House of Deputies on 3 July for concurrence.  I was glad to be sitting with the Deputation of the Diocese of El Camino Real (ECR) in the House of Deputies (rather than in the Alternates section) at the time that vote came up on the legislative calendar.  I was one of the 83% who voted for concurrence with B013.  That afternoon, there was a motion to reconsider B013.  There was a brief discussion (my favorite comment was: “It is not a good idea to negotiate peace in the Holy Land on the floor of the House of Deputies”), then 62% of the House of Deputies voted against reconsidering B013.

My two favorite sections of B013 are:

…Resolved, That the General Convention encourage The Episcopal Church to (1) embrace the principles of restorative justice in its advocacy and engagement for the just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and (2) engage and support the voices of both Israelis and Palestinians—especially those who are themselves victims of violence and injustice—who seek peace with justice through nonviolent and restorative responses to the conflict; and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention support existing efforts toward restorative justice by urging the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society [the full name of The Episcopal Church] to identify and find creative ways to commend, support, and elevate the work of local peace-building and economic development initiatives, including those of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East and grassroots organizations jointly led by Israelis and Palestinians…

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Images Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson

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