2008 General Assembly

Action 1

  1. Be a voice for the victims of violence in both Israel and Palestine. We ask PC(USA) members, congregations, committees, and other entities to become nonpartisan advocates for peace. As such, we will not over-identify with the realities of the Israelis or Palestinians. Instead we will identify with the need for peacemaking voices in the midst of horrific acts of violence and terror.
  2. Focus our energy on the United States government, demanding that it assume an intensive and unrelenting role as a peacemaker, bringing together the opposing parties in forums where reasonable people can reach reasonable compromises about highly complex issues.
  3. Condemn all acts of violence against innocent civilians. We will avoid taking broad stands that simplify a very complex situation into a caricature of reality where one side clearly is at fault and the other side is clearly the victim.
  4. RATIONALE
  5. This overture represents a humble confession of the very limited role the PC(USA) can play in solving the problems in the Middle East. Seeking to be part of the solution rather than inflaming the problems, we will join with and support any and all others in the world who seek a solution that creates two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and justice. We will call on all who, clinging to narrow self-interests, stand in the way of such a solution to consider the interest of all God’s children in the region.

Action 2

  1. Affirms the obligation of the church to speak to the governments of the United States and all other nations where it sees those governments violating the commandments of God. In the words of The Theological Declaration of Barmen, which speaks to the dependence of the Church on the Word of God and its independence from any state or ideology, “we reject the false doctrine, as though there were areas of our life in which we would not belong to Jesus Christ, but to other lords … . The state has by divine appointment the task of providing for justice and peace … [The church] calls to mind the Kingdom of God, God’s commandment and righteousness, and thereby the responsibility both of rulers and of the ruled. …” (The Book of Confessions, 8.15, 8.22). The sovereignty of God thus judges all claims of sovereign nationhood, all boundaries, all exercises of force, and all uses of resources by human beings. The Church is thus called to help discern where the Spirit is working in the world, guided by Scripture and its confessions.
  2. Endorses the “Amman Call” regarding Arab-Israeli peace, issued by the World Council of Churches’ conference, “Churches Together for Peace and Justice in the Middle East,” at Amman, Jordan, June 18-20, 2007, including its affirmation of the UN resolutions that are the basis of a projected “two-state” solution, a shared Jerusalem, and the human rights of refugees and occupied peoples, its call to resist extremism and push for reconciliation, and its commitment to imperatives of ecumenical solidarity in action for Just Peace, directing that the Amman Call be printed in the Minutes of the General Assembly and considered in any study processes of the church.
  3. Directs appropriate offices of the General Assembly Council to provide video, cyber, and print resources on the church’s historic concern for justice and peace in Israel and Palestine, such as those proposed by the Presbytery of Atlanta, using existing materials whenever possible, including back issues of Church & Society as suggested, to interpret such matters as Mission Responsibility Through Investment, the status of Jerusalem, the impact of the security barrier (or “wall”), etc.
  4. Commends the nonviolent witness of the Christians in Palestine and Israel with whom we share membership in the one Body of Christ, joining them in prayer and mutual remembrance, advocating for fair treatment for them and their neighbors.
  5. Encourages Presbyterian individuals, congregations, and councils to take pilgrimages and trips to Israel and Palestine that are in harmony with our principles, specifically that include: significant time visiting local Christians and church leaders, significant time in the Occupied Territories (witnessing conditions, helping sustain isolated and impoverished local economies), opportunities to meet Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers, and opportunities to engage in interfaith discussion of a range of perspectives; such travel to be assisted and resourced as feasible by the General Assembly Council, mission personnel, the Israel/Palestine Network, and our ecumenical partners in the region, as outlined by the Presbytery of East Iowa, all with the goals of helping the church grow in solidarity, mercy, and peacemaking.
  6. In continuing the process of corporate engagement with companies supporting or profiting from the occupation of Palestine and/or other violence in the region, instructs the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) to report regularly to the General Assembly Council on its communication and the compliance, or lack thereof, by Caterpillar, Motorola, and other corporations involved with regard to General Assembly guidelines and concerns for justice and human rights.
  7. Requests that the full texts of all overtures submitted on the Middle East be considered in the report on the Middle East recommended by the General Assembly Council to be prepared for 2010.

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