Archived Boards > ELCA Churchwide Assembly 2007

Bishop Younan, and other international concerns

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Richard Johnson:
Next came the distribution of first ballot for Church Council, with instructions that it is due back after lunch.

Next the Assembly welcomed Bp. Munib Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. He addressed our guy as “Your Grace”—well, that’s something we have to swallow as an ecumenical courtesy, I guess. Bp. Younan is always a very popular speaker at the CWA. He spoke of the church’s responsibility to work for justice and for the oppressed, the church’s task to “liberate humanity” from any forces that restrict human rights. He quoted Reagan: “This wall will fall.” “Who would imagine that two decades later we would be back building walls?” “This wall is not a sign of justice or peace, but of hatred . . . it breeds a culture of separation.” He expressed appreciation for the ELCA’s “Peace not walls” resolution of two years ago; declared that this wall must become a bridge for peace. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is the “core problem of the whole Middle East.” He spoke strongly against “Christian Zionism”—uncritical support of Israel based on incorrect interpretation of Biblical prophecy; encourages injustice, demonizes Muslims, harms interfaith dialogue. “My Christ is the Christ of love, not the Christ of sick scenarios.” The bishop’s address was interrupted with applause several times, and he was given a lengthy standing ovation at the end.

The Assembly then moved to the Memorials Committee recommendation on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Nothing accidental about scheduling this at this moment, of course. The resolution:
 
To note the participation of the ELCA in ecumenical and inter-religious forums where religious extremism is addressed;
To acknowledge the Churchwide Strategy for Engagement in Israel and Palestine, including its call for “increased engagement with conservative Christians and
a clearer and more forceful expression of Lutheran theology in the public debate . . .”; and
To call upon the ELCA, in all of its expressions, to recommit itself to the Churchwide Strategy for Engagement in Israel and Palestine through awareness-building, accompaniment, and advocacy activities, including pilgrimage visits, sustained financial
support, and other forms of economic stewardship.

An amendment proposed from the floor which would “call upon the ELCA to underscore the call for economic initiatives by this church and its members in the Peace Not Walls campaign. Such initiatives, in consultation with the ELCJHL, could include:  purchasing of products from Palestinian providers; and exploration of the feasibility of refusing to buy products produced in Israeli settlements. Also to be explored is the entire investment activity by this church.

This was opposed by Darrel Jaddock, a faculty member from Gustavus Adolphus College religion department, who believed such sanctions do not work well. Instead we should focus on putting pressure on the U. S. government. The amendment was supported and opposed by other speakers. One member asked if the Assembly could hear Bp. Younan’s opinion of the amendment. His response: “It’s your decision, but [this] is not strange in the Lutheran world. The Church of Sweden has spoken also on boycotting products manufactured in the settlements. This does not boycott products from Israel, but only from the Israeli settlements in Palestine. Even your government says the settlements are illegal, so any products of the settlements are also illegal. Settlements continue to be an obstacle. But it’s up to you.” OK then.

The order of the day was called. A question was asked about the ballot by Glenndy Ose (is this the old “I’m on the ballot for Secretary, and I need face time” gambit?). The Nominating Committee chair clarified the answer to the question. There was some confusion about just who was nominated for a particular seat on the Global Mission Unit, and a motion was made to strike that “ticket” from the common ballot and bring it forward on the next ballot. Motion adopted.

Now the report from the ELCA World Hunger Appeal, a video presentation, very moving. This led right into the action on supportive recommendations, which of course was approved overwhelmingly. Recommendation, in a nutshell, “This is an important and good thing, and we’d like every congregation to take part in the Appeal.”

After a “Dwelling in the Word” moment, the Assembly cast the second ballot for Secretary. There were many who withdrew, but none of the top ten.

The session concluded with a greeting from Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (poignant, in light of recent failure of Congress to approve immigration reform) and then went off to worship.

Laroki:
In Orlando, during the "Peace, Not Walls" discussion, I asked the panel to explain "In what way were Israelis included in the crafting of this document".  After a bit of shuffling about and consulting with others on the stage, the answer was that there had not been any Israeli input into the discussion.  Another voting member expressed that he didn't see why any Israelis should be consulted, that it would be sort of inconvenient or something.

I somehow doubt that there has been any change since then. 

In the example of the Sexuality study, everybody and their dog has been hounded (oops, I mean encouraged) to participate in the studies, send in their evaluations and comments and otherwise "be heard".  "Being heard" is evidently a valuable thing in the ELCA, but not, evidently, if you are Israeli.

Anyone else puzzled by this extraordinary double standard?



 

Brian Stoffregen:

--- Quote from: Laroki on August 09, 2007, 01:01:28 PM ---In Orlando, during the "Peace, Not Walls" discussion, I asked the panel to explain "In what way were Israelis included in the crafting of this document".  After a bit of shuffling about and consulting with others on the stage, the answer was that there had not been any Israeli input into the discussion.  Another voting member expressed that he didn't see why any Israelis should be consulted, that it would be sort of inconvenient or something.
--- End quote ---
Do you know if any Palestinian Muslims were included -- or did we just consult Christians, and especially the Lutherans living in the region?

Laroki:

--- Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on August 09, 2007, 01:06:58 PM ---
--- Quote from: Laroki on August 09, 2007, 01:01:28 PM ---In Orlando, during the "Peace, Not Walls" discussion, I asked the panel to explain "In what way were Israelis included in the crafting of this document".  After a bit of shuffling about and consulting with others on the stage, the answer was that there had not been any Israeli input into the discussion.  Another voting member expressed that he didn't see why any Israelis should be consulted, that it would be sort of inconvenient or something.
--- End quote ---
Do you know if any Palestinian Muslims were included -- or did we just consult Christians, and especially the Lutherans living in the region?

--- End quote ---

I do not know if Palestinian Muslims were included. 

This does not, however, get the ELCA off the hook in this regard.  I was hoping for any sort of Israeli input, be it Jewish, Lutheran,or Christian.  I would have even welcomed the perspective of an Israeli Muslim!  This is not, after all, referred to as the Muslim-Jewish conflict, but the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  If we as the ELCA insist of also referring to this conflict in this manner, then technically, the Muslim/Jewish question is somewhat moot.  The nation of Israel has citizens of many races and creeds, much like the U.S.  To eliminate them from any consideration as we make pronouncements on them is inconsistent at best and xenophobic at worst 

Gladfelteri:

--- Quote from: Brian Stoffregen on August 09, 2007, 02:13:14 PM ---
--- Quote from: Laroki on August 09, 2007, 01:41:52 PM ---The nation of Israel has citizens of many races and creeds, much like the U.S.  To eliminate them from any consideration as we make pronouncements on them is inconsistent at best and xenophobic at best. 
--- End quote ---
Does it have citizens of many races and creeds, or does one have to be Jewish to be a citizen of Israel? I have heard that because my mother comes from Jewish heritage, I could become a citizen of Israel. I haven't checked what citizenship requirements Israel has.

--- End quote ---
There are Christian and Muslim Israeli citizens.  According to my wife's daughter who is a Hasidic Jew, spends most summers in Istael - in one of those problematic settlements in the West Bank - and has somehow managed to obtain dual US and Israeli citizenship, most Israelis are purely secular, "cultural Jews" who tend to be agnostic.  Observant Jews (Conservatives as well as Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox) are a definite minority over there these days.   

According to her, the Israeli "Law of Return" is in something of a state of flux, but to take advantage of it, one must at least be the child of a Jewish mother and be able to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt.  There are a number of other requirements as well.  According to her, if one is not Jewish and wants to immigrate to Israel - "to help build Eretz Israel," visas are easy enough to come by if you can get past interviews background checks, etc., from the Mossad, which can be difficult; but if Israel wants you bad enough because of certain skills - or finances - you have to offer, there is always a way.

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