[AMENDED] Proposed AIW - Solidarity with Palestinians

Many UUs are grieving. DRUUMM is hosting a vigil on Sunday as a sacred spiritual space of witness and processing for all.

For the Buried and the Unearthed: A Unitarian Universalist Vigil for Gaza

Sunday, June 9th, 2024
8:00 PM to 9:00 PM Eastern
Zoom provided upon RSVP

This vigil, open to all, is to honor the spiritual work toward ending the violence. We are calling for a permanent ceasefire and end to the indiscriminate bombing of Gaza, a release of all hostages/prisoners, humanitarian aid, and an accountability process that is not rooted in revenge. We deeply honor the worth and dignity of all Palestinians and all Israelis.

We are centering the voices of those most affected and we ask attendees to hold this with intention. We aim to be present with one another and deepen our attention to the crises in Gaza as Unitarian Universalists. We are mindful of the deep and complex roots in the minds and hearts of Westerners.

Join us as we grieve, rage, learn, and find solace together. The vigil will be held for 45 minutes, and we may host facilitated breakout session afterwards depending on capacity for those who wish to connect more intentionally.

RSVP Required for Zoom: druumm.org/events

View our previous vigil at youtube.com/@DRUUMM

Hosted by concerned Unitarian Universalist ministers, religious professionals, lay leaders, the Church of the Larger Fellowship, UU Service Committee, UU Women’s Federation, UUs for Justice in the Middle East and more

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Rachel, I am also grateful for the effort put into this AIW. I was going to add some substantial facts in support of the Action, but as I read the work of Rev. Helfer, Lena Gardner, Rev Romano Griffin and Rev Janamanchi, I see in their statement as complete.

I see the AIW “Solidarity with Palestinians” as being balanced in recognition of the harms from many perspectives. There is no endorsement of Hamas terrorist elements in the AIW and the AIW needs no further rendering of Israeli state history.

Rachel and others who can access the award-winning film, Israelism may find it eye opening in the journey that we hope will bring a just peace for Israeli’s and Palestinians.

A diverse group of Jews, Palestinians, Muslim and other faiths and ethnicities in my community joined in watching the film at a local theater just a few weeks ago. Of course my UU Davis membership was invited in this interfaith and community event and I volunteered to help with the screening.

When next I attended my Davis UU Church, I was thanked by a few of my fellow congregants who said they would not have understood as much as they do now. “Thank you, it was well worth the time”. It might be for your as well.

Israelism will be available for streaming as early as June 7 on Amazon Prime, Apple TV and other streaming platforms.** More information at: https://www.israelismfilm.com/.

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I need to watch this film. A friend of mine has also recommended it. Thank you for putting in the time and effort to support your congregation in accessing resources like this. So many of us have learning (unlearning!) to do around this, and our congregations are places where we can not only do that learning but also hold the complexity of all of the feelings that come along with it. I really appreciate that this AIW names the need for learning and “sacred space for processing.” There is so much pain and trauma around this learning and these conversations, but the situation in Israel/Palestine calls us into making the effort.

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The AIW coalition is offering several webinars in support of learning and unlearning. Happening today at noon Pacific/3 pm Eastern is Transforming Conflict in Congregations and Groups around Palestine/Israel and Other Issues

RSVP to receive the Zoom: Transforming Conflict - Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East

Does your congregation or group struggle with how to engage on Palestine and Israel? Article II? Internal matters? This workshop can help! All are welcome!

Three-hour professionally led workshop - will not be recorded due to the interactive breakout sessions

It’s recommended to have a notebook or journal with you for some of the planned exercises.

In the RSVP form, please ensure that you enter zero or another number in the box next to How many other people are you bringing? Without a number, the form will not submit.

An interactive workshop featuring Rev. Dr. Terasa Cooley, based on her book: Transforming Conflict: The Blessings of Congregational Turmoil.

This workshop will allow you to more deeply understand your own patterns of dealing with conflict, give you skills for negotiating difficult conversations and a greater understanding of congregational conflict dynamics.

Rev. Cooley has been a UU minister for 35 years, serving congregations in Detroit, Chicago and Hartford, as well as our denomination in various roles, and is now an Accredited Transitional Minister specializing in helping congregations through the aftereffects of ministerial misconduct. She is currently the Developmental Minister in Columbus, Ohio.

More about the book: Transforming Conflict: The Blessings of Congregational Turmoil - 9781538161821

This workshop will not be recorded as there are interactive breakout sessions throughout the time together. We hope to offer this again in the late summer/early fall.

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Thank you for lifting up these resources and events! I’ll see you at the Vigil <3

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Hi, all,
I thought I should write as lead submitter, and I apologize for not doing so sooner. I am both Jewish and Unitarian Universalist. Like others, my understanding of the issues raised in this AIW have evolved and changed as I’ve learned more. I grew up in a mostly non-observant Jewish household, because my maternal grandparents had escaped Romania and Poland in 1939, so traumatized they lost faith in g-d and largely in humanity. I did find my Judaism beginning in my early 20s, largely in queer community. Over the past three decades, I’ve done a lot of learning and unlearning, particularly about the way American Judaism is conflated with Zionism. I come to this work, to ministry and specifically this AIW, hoping that we can tackle these same issues as a faith tradition, centered from that place of love that Article II rightly calls us to. Best, DL

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The Transforming Conflict workshop was absolutely phenomenal and I’m so grateful. If that is offered again I want to invite all of the leaders from my home congregation. Essential learning for all of us! Thanks to UUJME for organizing these opportunities for us all to deepen our skills.

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In general I agree with a previous poster who said that " It is urgent that the UUA take a stand against the US supplying more weapons to Israel at this time. We should also affirm (I hope reaffirm) the UU belief that Israel and Hamas should follow international law regarding the conduct of war. " This includes not just use of militiary weapons but things like siege and famine; of particular concern is the severe withholding of supplies and food at a time when the number of injured and the destruction of infrastructure means MORE is needed not less.
I think the current wording is pretty good, it can never be perfect. The focus needs to be on the current conflict and relationship between Palestinians (in Gaza and West Bank territories) and Israel; I think it is also good to recognize what is happening in the US to those who speak out against casualties, destruction of infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, stifling of free speech.
Regardless of intent, Hamas’ militant wing does not have the capacity to do much more than what it did that 1 horrible day. In the 8 months since 10/7 (and many years before) nearly all of the killing, maiming and destruction has been carried out by Israel in/on the Occupied Territories particularly Gaza. The Israeli military has the capability of destroying what is left of Palestinian lands and leaving Palestinians with no autonomy or means to sustain themselves. The urgency is extreme, the US has influence on what is happening and therefore a strongly worded AIW is appropriate.

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Antisemitism Curriculum from a Framework of Collective Liberation

Please sign up to get the Zoom link at https://bit.ly/UU-Pal-Es

Thursday, June 13, 4 pm Pacific/7 pm Eastern

Two-hour workshop - will not be recorded

In the RSVP form, please ensure that you enter a number, either zero or another number, in the box next to How many other people are you bringing? Without a number, the form will not submit.

The Curriculum on Antisemitism from a Framework of Collective Liberation is devoted to understanding and challenging antisemitism grounded in a deep commitment to justice and dignity for all people. Some topics of the curriculum include:

Jewish Histories and Geographies

Understanding Antisemitism

Antisemitism from a Framework of Collective Liberation

Perspectives on Histories of Antisemitism

Intersecting Histories and Antisemitism

Antisemitism Today: White Nationalism, Tropes, Conspiracy Theories, & more

What Antisemitism is, and What It is Not; Use/Misuse of Data

Challenges, Possibilities, and Strategies: Working Together for Collective Liberation

The presenters are Nina Mehta, an educator and ethnographer, and Donna Nevel, a community psychologist and educator, co-directors of PARCEO, a resource and education center that works with community organizations, universities and schools, and a range of institutions seeking to deepen their educational, organizing, research, and cultural work for justice.

The curriculum opens with some basic understandings of what antisemitism is and begins to consider what challenging antisemitism can look like from a framework of collective liberation. What follows is discussion of the racially, ethnically, economically, and culturally diverse Jewish communities that have lived throughout the world for centuries as well as global, historical examples of Jewish experience and antisemitism.

From there, interwoven with broader social, political and economic context and realities, the focus is on antisemitism currently. We then look at how antisemitism manifests today (e.g., acts of violence, impact of rise in white nationalism, stereotypes/tropes, philosemitism, and more) and the connections and intersections with other forms of racism and injustice. In order to understand what antisemitism is, it is also important to know what it is not, and here the discussion addresses the ways antisemitism has been misused to serve an anti-liberatory agenda.

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The registration link is open for the Zoom Listening Session for the AIW: Solidarity with Palestinians. The Zoom is being hosted by the UUA Commission on Social Witness.

Tuesday, June 11th, at 6 pm Pacific/7 pm Mountain/8 pm Central/9 pm Eastern/next day 9 am Philippines

Register at the link below:

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As others have noted, I find this AIW unbalanced. It’s complicated, because the actions of Hamas are despicable, and our concern for the Palestinian people should not ever amount to support for Hamas, any more than our support for Israel should cause us to overlook or excuse their crimes against humanity. Of course Israel is justified in defending against attacks from Hamas, but their stated goal of continuing this war until Hamas is destroyed is tantamount to genocide. Hamas isn’t a well defined entity, and every act of retaliation that harms Palestinian civilians is sure to create another generation of people who have no reason to want Israel to exist. I don’t think there is any military solution to this problem; it can only be resolved if Israel’s government allows for a process that leads towards Palestinians having equal rights of citizenship.

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The latest version of the AIW from the sponsors is posted at uupalestineaction.org

we provided this last week to the commission on social witness however, unfortunately they’re not able to update this discussion board until after June 14.

Apologies to everyone who may be discussing and debating things that have already changed. We made an appeal to try and update this page but so far it’s been denied. We’re doing our best to be responsive.

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A Jewish friend of mine posted the YouTube video below on Facebook today and it is such a powerful sermon from the Rabbi Sharon Brous. It is about 20 minutes long.

One of the things that I take away from this message is that we do not have to all agree about every word of this AIW in order to vote for it–we can use it as a starting point; we do not have to agree about what the precise plan(s) must be for what comes next. If we can agree that Jewish people and Palestinian people all have a right to live in peace and safety (that is collective liberation–not protecting or saving one group at the expense of another, but working for the wellbeing of ALL), then this AIW is a starting place. I know that for some it doesn’t feel that way, because the language centers Palestinians. I would offer the suggestion of trying this out with curiosity: Palestinians (in Gaza and the West Bank, most particularly) are experiencing the most extreme harm and suffering right now, because of the power imbalance–Israel, with the backing of the U.S. and other international allies, is a military superpower. Gazans are experiencing a horrific military siege, coupled with famine. It is like when we say that Black Lives Matter–it doesn’t mean that other lives do not matter; we are naming those who are in the most imminent danger and directing our energy there. And when you consider the Israeli hostages, the absolute best thing that could happen for their futures is for an immediate ceasefire to happen now. They are experiencing the same military bombardment as Gazans, and in fact, when some Israeli hostages escaped, they were shot dead by Israel. The safety of ALL those at risk depends on a ceasefire, and then a political and diplomatic solution moving forward. The military “solution” is not creating safety or security for anyone, and I would argue that includes Israelis.

Here is Rabbi Brous’ sermon:

YouTube link

Here is the verbatim of her intro:
“This sermon today is a plea to my beautiful and broken and beloved American Jewish community; a plea to those whose hearts have been full of anguish these past eight months; to those pained every day by the unthinkable losses suffered by our family in Israel; and to those pained every day by the horrific losses suffered by Palestinians in Gaza, for you, too, are part of our Jewish family. And of course, to those who are pained by all of it—those who see the death of even one innocent—any innocent—as a moral catastrophe, and have spent these past many months reeling, navigating the spiritual whiplash and political homelessness, caught between those who feel and really feel one or the other, and left feeling lonely and heartbroken and breathless from all of it. This sermon is a plea to those who believe that, like the silent scream of a nightmare, we are powerless now to do anything to temper the tide that is crashing on this tender fragile shore, powerless to do much more than just watch in horror as it all unfolds, and this sermon is especially a plea to those who feel increasingly unmoored, helpless, hopeless. This sermon is for you: a plea from my broken heart to yours.”

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I agree that the military “solution” is not creating safety or security for anyone. It is creating more hatred and more enemies. The Israeli forces are guilty of crimes against humanity - war crimes.

But I cannot in good conscience support the AIW the way it is written. It is exclusionary.

“He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him In!”
― Edwin Markham

To draw the circle of solidarity so that it includes the Palestinians only has the effect of shutting out solidarity with the Israelis.

That just feels wrong to me.

If this AIW could be rewritten to include Solidarity with both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples, in such a way that acknowledges both the suffering and the transgressions on either side (because no one’s hands are clean) then I would accept it.

This AIW does not express radical love. It is conditional.

“Israel’s occupation and repression in Gaza has been decades long”
But: Israel’s fear of living with neighbours that have sworn to kill them all has been decades long.

“In 1948, 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced, and at least 280,000 were displaced in 1967 when additional Palestinian lands were violently occupied against international law.”
But: In 1948 Israel was fighting a battle against the threat of annihilation at a time when they had just gone through a Holocaust that almost succeeded in this threat. This is the original coining of the word “genocide”.

“Zionism is increasingly intertwined with supremacy and nationalism.”
But: the founding principles of Hamas, which have never been explicitly renounced says things like: Article 13 - Peaceful Solutions, Initiatives and International Conferences:- Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. … There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad.

I can go on and on. This AIW is unbalanced. It draws the circle to keep the Israeli out. It especially excludes the Jews.

It also excludes our enemies.
Matthew 5: 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

Rewrite this AIW so that it expresses solidarity with all people in the Mideast and all innocent victims of violence and you will have my support.

● Call for the liberation of Palestine and an end to the apartheid; declare our moral outrage and shared horror at Israel’s massacre, mass incarceration, torture, destruction of the land poisoning soil for future generations, and decimation of systems of care for healthy reproduction.
● Call for the renunciation of Palestinians to any attempt to kill or expel people, such as the Jews, who have come to live in the land of their ancestors; declare our moral outrage at the racism inherent in these attempts.
● Call for the establishment of a true democracy in Palestinian lands, either through the establishment of a democratic government that represents all people in the Palestinian territories, including Israeli immigrant settlers to Palestinian territories who will live in peace as fellow citizens of Palestine in a two-state solution, or a single one-state solution from the river to the sea with a single democratic government such as the Knesset.
● Call for freeing hostages and all political prisoners.

In Organizing and advocating make changes such as:
removing the word “genocide”. It is a misuse of the term that dishonors the sacred memory of those people throughout history who have truly been victims of genocide. Mass murder, yes. War crime, yes. Crimes against humanity, yes. But it is not genocide.
“● Support boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel and corporate enablers until it ends its policies and practices of apartheid, military occupation, settler colonialism, and genocide.”
Replace by
● Support boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israeli and Palestinian transgressors and religious, ethnic, government and corporate enablers of policies and practices that kill and dehumanize the other until all of these enablers work towards building an inclusive community where everyone can live in peace and have their rights acknowledged.

Practice radical love. Draw the circle to include everyone.

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“This AIW does not express radical love. It is conditional.”

I disagree with this assertion. What I said in my post, and I will say it again here, is that this AIW is grounded in the idea of collective liberation. All of our liberation, our freedom, our safety–it’s all bound up together. Jewish safety is bound up with Palestinian safety. What Israel is doing right now is trying to trade the safety of Palestinians for Israeli safety, and what this AIW is saying is that is not how it works in human communities. It’s not how it works in beloved community.

Context matters. Power dynamics matter. We can articulate those things with clarity and love and we don’t have to throw anyone away.

Jewish UUs (and also Jewish folks outside of UUism) are endorsing this AIW. They are holding the complexity of this with love and a commitment to their Jewish heritage. I have deep respect and gratitude for their engagement on this. I know that it might be difficult and painful to put their names to this–and it is so incredibly important.

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This gets to a fundamental issue that is being discussed here with the changes to Article II.

What is Love? How is it practiced?

I find it this AIW excludes solidarity with Israel and therefore cannot represent collective liberation because it leaves one side out. I find that its love is too incomplete to support.

All of our liberation is bound together. So Jewish safety is bound up with Palestinian safety. The way this war is being conducted ignores safety on both sides. See the imbalance here: you condemn Isaerl for trading the safety of the Palestinians for Israel, but you are silent about how Hama is also trading the safety of the Palestinians for itself. It uses them as human shields. It subverted the aid that had been given to Gaza to build tunnels under hospitals and other public accommodations instead of spending it for the betterment of the people of Gaza.

So even if Israel were to stop, you would not end up in a beloved community with Hamas still there.

You disagree that this statement is conditional, but you say context matters. It is the context that makes it conditional. We actually agree on this. Context matters.

Because this AIW does not include the full context and only looks at the power dynamics of one side, it, in fact, does throw people away.

You can begin with the title: change it to Solidarity with Palestinians and Israelis and then start asking what the collective solidarity implies.

I agree with the principle of collective liberation. What Israel is doing in Gaza will not achieve it. It will only make things worse. But this AIW is no help because its contextualization is exclusionary. It is one-sided.

Include explicit statements that express solidarity with all people such as:
Witnessing: Call for the right of Jews to live in their ancestral homeland in peace. Call for the right of Palestinians to live in democracy. Call for the freedom of religion and the end to a military jihad.
Educating: Hold dialogs between groups of different viewpoints, such as the group Braver Angels runs. Do not impose teachings on anyone. Talk, dialog and argue from the standpoint that none of us has all the answers and that we need to express our differences. Even if we if we don’t think alike we can still love alike.
Organizing and Advocating: Support both Palestinian and Israel/Jewish led groups and coalitions that support universal liberation, not for one side but for everyone. Support boycott, divestment and sanctions against terrorist groups and systems of oppression on both sides. Do not turn a blind eye to oppression wherever it is found. Support the ability to witness and report the truth on all sides. Demand that this witnessing is done in such a way that balances the good and evil done on both sides, since we all live with good and evil in us. By and large, there are fewer saints and sinners here than we would like.

Condemn evil, but on both sides. Support peace, but on both sides.

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I think we might be in a disagreement about the events that led to the current situation in Gaza, Rafah, and Palestine more broadly and there are some issues with your characterizations and framing. I am compelled to believe this post includes some misinformation and editorializing about the motivation and intent behind this AIW.

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For context, much of the history of the occupied territories of Palestine and the founding of Israel were omitted for brevity. As you can agree, there is a lot of history and many events that have occurred that have led to this point. Not all points in time could be included.

I would pushback on the notion that this issue is too complex to discuss and make a statement about. This assertion has led to folks of conscience who have seen the violence and the horrific aftermath to stay silent when they’re being called to be a compassionate witness.

We need folks to remember that Palestinians are living under apartheid conditions with the state of Israel controlling much of their way of life and access to resources. This power dynamic cannot be ignored or glossed over when we talk showing up for peace and justice.

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As a Jewish Unitarian Universalist, I cannot support this statement as written and wonder how many of our Jewish members will leave the denomination should it pass the way it is written. The authors, two of whom I know as respected and dear colleagues, fail people like me when they center not mideast peace and the wellbeing and rights of all people on these lands but only the Palestinian people. I cannot understand how October 7th is not declaimed as a barbaric attack by Hamas (not the Palestinian people as written), how the right wing government of Israel is not separated from the people of Israel, how the rights of both the Palestinian people and the Israel people to exist and a two state solution are not mentioned; how we condemn Israel’s massacre but not Hamas’ massacre; how the history of decades long attacks on Israel’s very existence and blatant anti-Semitism are not decried…I could go on, but others have done well at outlining concerns. I am appalled and horrified by the actions the Netanyahu government has taken in Gaza, and I believe and support groups in Israel like Stand Together who are calling for elections there. But I am also more than uneasy that it is this kind of resolution that provides cover for those whose hidden anti-semitism means that they are calling for an end to Israel and perhaps even once again the Jewish people.

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Northern NJ JVP cosponsors monthly film salons with Voices from the Holy Land, and a couple of months ago, Israelism was the film. We are also helping organize a public screening in a local community. Definitely recommended.

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