April 2012 Archives

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The following is a press release from Gush-Shalom – the Israeli ‘Peace Bloc’.

Press Release 15/04/2012

 Avnery: Netanyahu compares Israel to Syria and Iran, thereby himself contributing to the delegitimation of Israel. The aggressive conduct at the airport exhibits to the entire world the image of Israel as a police state

 "In the height of demagoguery, Binyamin Netanyahu calls upon peace and human rights activists to go Syria and Iran, and this pack of absurdities go    echoing though the official and unofficial government mouthpieces. The Prime Minister did not notice that exactly by making this comparison he is putting the State of Israel on one level with these oppressive regimes and himself significantly contributes to the delegitimation of Israel" said former Knesset Member Uri Avnery, Gush Shalom activist.

"Today is a black and shameful page in the history of the State of Israel. The massive aggressive play staged today at Ben Gurion Airport, the hundreds of police flooding the terminal, the systematic hunt for every traveler who dared to openly admit being headed to Bethlehem, as if this was the most horrible of crimes, the hysterical assault on a handful of Israeli peace activists who dared to express a dissident opinion, the worldwide campaign of pressures and threats to make airlines cancel the flights of hundreds of passengers. Had the government set out to exhibit to the world the image of an ugly Israel – oppressive, aggressive, nationalistic, tolerating no criticism – then today was a huge success. But if they had wanted to corroborate the assertion that Israel is "the only democracy in the Middle East", the government’s conduct conveyed   the very opposite message. The government’s "victory" over the the international activists was the very epitome of a pyrrhic victory.

The Assad regime in Syria is already for a year facing worldwide condemnation for its atrocities, and now the international community is finally beginning to intervene there, even if too little and too late. Courageous human rights activists in Syria are risking their lives to transmit messages and images, and deserve all respect and honor. All this does not clear or exonerate the State of Israel of its responsibility for the last 44 years – more than two thirds of its entire history – in which Israel maintains an oppressive rule over four million people and systematically steals their land. There is indeed no doubt that in the count of sheer bloodshed Syria is at this moment ahead Israel – but it would be better for Israel not to boast too much about this. Human rights activists around the world could and should deal with human rights violations, wherever they occur – in Syria, in Iran and also in the Palestinian territories under Israeli occupation. The Israeli peace activists, who came to the airport to protest the government’s aggressive conduct and welcome the international activists, helped restore a bit of Israel’s good name".

 Contact:
Adam Keller, Gush Shalom spokesperson +972-54-2340749

 

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Unfortunately the ‘Welcome to Palestine’ campaign didn’t turn out to be the friendly gathering it was envisaged to be. The massive over-reaction of the Israeli government echoes the horrors of the Mavi Marmara!

 

 Press Release from the Welcome to Palestine Campaign

We did not have to show our 1500 visitors Israeli racism, arrogance, and human rights violations; the Israeli government showed them and also showed the whole world.  Calling itself a democracy, this outlaw state denied the right of people from around the world to come visit us and see for themselves the reality of life under occupation.

We the Palestinian people are 11 million normal human beings, 7 million are refugees or displaced people simply because they are natives to a land that was wanted for a Jewish state.  Five million of us are living in increasingly shrinking ghettos on a tiny fraction of our land.  We remain here despite an illegal and brutal occupation that includes land confiscation, movement restrictions, home demolitions, illegal imprisonment of thousands (many now on hunger strike), and countless other inhuman conditions. We did not expect from this occupation that daily violates human rights to also allow us as prisoners under its boot to openly and honestly receive visitors.  These visitors who wanted to come and see what reality is like here certainly were shocked at the Israeli behaviour.  And those who wanted to welcome our visitors and were brutally assaulted will remember how the same Israeli police let right wing fanatics sing and disrupt at the airport.  The whole world is now seeing Israel for what it is: a police state that fulfils all the requirements of being an apartheid pariah state per the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (1973).

Countries that once supported Apartheid in South Africa had people who mobilized against it.  Now people of conscience mobilize to challenge this apartheid that is now so explicitly expressed.

Those airlines and governments that acted as subcontractors for the Israeli apartheid regime are being challenged by their own people.  In denying boarding to a passenger by Air France, the airline documented that she cannot board because she is neither Jewish or Israeli! (see in French wtp2france.palestinejn.org…, English: palestinianspring.palestinejn.org…)

In claiming in writing that we called for disruptions and for challenging "security" of Israel, the Israeli government was exposed as lying.  In forcing a Swedish passenger (unrelated to our campaign) to sign that he was not going to meet with any "pro-Palestinian" individuals or groups, the Israeli government was shown to be racist.  Imagine if a similar requirement was posted to visitors to any other country about visiting or meeting with "pro-black" individuals or organizations.  In sending a letter to that claims activists should worry about Iran and Syria before worrying about this system of apartheid, the Israeli government showed the bankruptcy of its arguments.  In denying us the right to visit, the Israeli government showed the world that it has a lot to hide.

For examples of participant profiles of those denied their right to visit us in Palestine, visit www.welcometopalestine.info…

At the end of our press conference in Bethlehem, we passed out Easter colored eggs.  We Palestinian Christian and Muslims are grateful to all who act on their conscience, Internationals, Israelis, and Palestinian volunteers.  Thousands of us say loud and clear: we will not be silenced, we will continue to organize campaigns until we have freedom and until Israel complies with all relevant International and Humanitarian laws.

Contact email: media@palestinejn.org…

Contact phone numbers in languages: Arabic, English. French, Spanish, Hebrew

0599255573 (A, E, F)

0568347074 (A, E, S)

0598939532 ((A, E)

0505633044 (A, E, H)

Welcome to Palestine 2012 Campaign websites

bienvenuepalestine.com…

palestinianspring.palestinejn.org…

www.righttoenter.ps…

welcometopalestine.info…

bienvenidosapalestina.jimdo.com…

bienvenuepalestine.ca/…

English: palestinianspring.palestinejn.org…

Arabic: wtp2arabic.palestinejn.org…

Spanish: wtp2spain.palestinejn.org…

French: wtp2spain.palestinejn.org…

Swedish: wtp2sweden.palestinejn.org…

Norwegian: wtp2norway.palestinejn.org…

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Patrick Seale is one of the most knowledgeable foreign journalists in the Middle East, and his opinion is extremely valuable. Read his latest piece on Israel-Iran:

Surprises in the Israeli-Iranian Duel

www.middle-east-online.com…;

Quite apart from its continued oppression and dispossession of the Palestinians, Israel has a long record of murdering its political opponents, and is widely believed to have been responsible for the assassination of five Iranian nuclear scientists in the last two years, as well as for introducing the Stuxnet virus into Iran’s computer systems — clear acts of state terrorism, notes Patrick Seale.

Middle East Online

Although it is too early to make a judgement, it looks as if Israel’s Iran policy has back-fired and may result in a very different outcome from the one Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has long sought.

Israel’s thinking these past three years has been that punitive sanctions, cyber warfare and the assassination of Iran’s nuclear scientists must eventually force a crippled Islamic Republic to agree to ‘zero enrichment’ of uranium – that is to say to dismantle its entire nuclear programme. This, it was hoped, would open the way for ‘regime change’ in Tehran.

To bring about sufficiently severe pressure on Iran, Israel’s strategy has been to threaten to attack. It calculated — rightly as it turned out — that the United States and its allies would not dare call its bluff. Instead — to head off an Israeli attack, which they feared could trigger a regional war with unpredictable and potentially catastrophic consequences — they worked to bring Iran’s economy to its knees.

Israel’s strategy was working. Everything seemed to be going its way. Punitive sanctions on Iran were beginning to bite. Impatient for regime change, pro-Israeli propagandists in the United States had even started to call for covert action in support of the Iranian opposition.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign affairs chief, then stepped into the fray. Confounding the hawks, she made an offer to Iran to restart negotiations, using a conciliatory tone quite different from the usual hectoring heard from Washington, Paris and London, and wholly at odds with Israel’s relentless sabre-rattling. Iran responded positively to Ashton’s invitation. Its first meeting with the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) took place in Istanbul on 14 April, and, by all accounts, was a surprising success.

Saeed Jalili, the chief Iranian negotiator — who had joined Catherine Ashton for an informal dinner at the Iranian consulate the previous evening — spoke of “a positive approach.” She, in turn, called the discussions “constructive and useful.” As a framework for the talks, she listed a number of principles, which must have reassured the Iranians and caused Israeli hawks to grit their teeth.

The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, she declared, must be a key basis for the talks. But the NPT allows signatories to enrich uranium on their own territory up to 3.5%, for power generation and other peaceful purposes. Ashton thus seemed to be sending a signal that Iran’s right to do so would be recognised. It looked as if the P5+1 had dropped Israel’s demand for zero enrichment. Instead, the suggestion was that the focus would be on getting Iran to stop enriching uranium to 20%, once it was guaranteed supplies for the Tehran Research Reactor, which needs uranium enriched to this level to produce isotopes for the treatment of Iran’s cancer patients. Since President Ahmadinejad has repeatedly said that Iran would stop producing 20% uranium if it was assured of supplies from abroad, the glimmer of a settlement seemed in sight.

Moreover, Catherine Ashton also said that the negotiators would “be guided by the principle of the step-by-step approach and reciprocity.” This reference to a gradualist approach and to mutual concessions gave a strong indication that sanctions would be lifted in stages once Iran provided convincing evidence that it was not seeking nuclear weapons and would accept intrusive inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. She had evidently decided to give some credence to the 2005 fatwa issued by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in which he forbade the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons.

At the close of the 10-hour Istanbul meeting, Iran and the P5+1 agreed to hold their next meeting in Baghdad on 23 May, in what promises to be a prolonged series of talks.

Netanyahu’s angry reaction was fully in character. “Iran has been granted a ‘freebie’” he declared sourly, “to continue enrichment without any limitation, any inhibition. Iran should take immediate steps,” he stormed, “to stop all enrichment, take out all enrichment material and dismantle the nuclear facility at Qom. I believe that the world’s greatest practitioner of terrorism must not have the opportunity to develop atomic bombs.”

This shrill accusation seemed to be a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Quite apart from its continued oppression and dispossession of the Palestinians, Israel has a long record of murdering its political opponents, and is widely believed to have been responsible for the assassination of five Iranian nuclear scientists in the last two years, as well as for introducing the Stuxnet virus into Iran’s computer systems — clear acts of state terrorism.

With crucial help from the French, Israel built its first atomic bombs in the 1960s, nearly half a century ago. They were ready for use if the 1967 war, which Israel launched against the Arabs that year, had turned against it. Most experts today estimate Israeli stockpile of nuclear weapons at between 75 and 150 warheads. Israel also has a second strike capability in the form of nuclear-tipped missiles on its German-built submarines.

Netanyahu claims that the Islamic Republic poses an ‘existential threat’ to Israel. There is not a scrap of evidence to support this claim. The Iranian President did say something to the effect that Israel would one day “pass from the pages of time” — a phrase Israel miss-translated, no doubt for propaganda purposes, to mean an Iranian plan to “wipe Israel off the map.” Quite the contrary, it is Iran that would risk annihilation if it ever attempted to attack Israel. In addition to its large nuclear arsenal and sophisticated delivery systems, Israel has a vastly more powerful conventional military capability than Iran, largely supplied by the United States. The U.S. has indeed pledged to maintain Israel’s military superiority over all regional states — its so-called Qualitative Military Edge — a pledge which has been written into U.S. law.

What, therefore, is the reason for Israel’s anxiety? It fears that if Iran were to build a nuclear weapon — or merely acquire the ability to do so — Israel’s freedom of action would be restricted. It would no longer be able to strike its neighbours at will without risking being hit back. The simple truth is that Israel wants to deny its neighbours the ability to defend themselves. None is to be allowed to acquire a deterrent capability! Israel detests Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza because these resistance movements have acquired some limited capacity to retaliate against Israel’s assaults. For this reason Israel calls them terrorist organisations and blames Iran for arming them.

Netanyahu has long opposed talks between Iran and the international community, and no doubt prays for them to collapse. The pro-Israeli lobby in the United States will very probably be mobilised in this cause. But if Catherine Ashton gets her way, if the negotiations with Iran are successful and the spectre of war is dispelled, Israel may have to live with a small dent in its regional supremacy.

Patrick Seale is a leading British writer on the Middle East. His latest book is The Struggle for Arab Independence: Riad el-Solh and the Makers of the Modern Middle East (Cambridge University Press).

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Some folks honestly believe that Julian Assange is doing the world a great service.  Let’s examine the matter for ourselves.  It’ll help us understand the situation in Syria.  The article pasted below (highlights mine) was published in the Jerusalem Post.   Ha’aretz covered the story, also, and included a highly controversial video: Julian Assange interviews Hezbollah chief (28:00)  Peace, Roy 

Assange interviews Nasrallah in new TV program

By JPOST.COM… STAFF

04/17/2012 16:42

Hezbollah leader speaks with WikiLeaks founder about group’s support of Assad, engagement with Syria rebels.

Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah
Photo: REUTERS/ Ali Hashisho

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange premiered his new television show on Tuesday with an exclusive interview with the outspoken but largely elusive Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, Lebanese Hezbollah’s secretary-general.

During the interview – which was Assange’s first for his new program on the Kremlin-funded English-language Russia Television, The World Tomorrow – the Hezbollah leader rejected claims that the group, recognized as a terrorist group by Israel, the United States, Canada and the Netherlands, fires rockets towards Israeli civilians and towns.

Speaking with Assange via video feed and seated in front of a blue curtain and the Lebanese and Hezbollah flags, Nasrallah explained that Hezbollah began "reacting" to "Israeli aggression" following the "resistance years" between 1982 and 1992, "strictly to stop Israel from shelling our civilians." He said Israel has been "shelling Lebanese civilians since 1948," when the Jewish state was founded.

Today, Nasrallah continued, Hezbollah and Israel have an "understanding" whereby both sides agree not to fire on civilian targets. He referred to a 1993 US-negotiated ceasefire between Israel and the Lebanese group which ended a flare-up of hostilities between the two sides, which was reaffirmed in a written ceasefire in 1996.

"That understanding makes sure both sides don’t fire at civilians," Nasrallah said.

The Hezbollah leader explained to Assange, who sat next to a translator in a television studio, how the group’s fighters are able to outsmart Israel’s "sophisticated technology, weapons and communications."

"The resistance is popular," he said. "Most of the men in it are village boys, from small towns and agricultural communities."

He explained that the "code" used by the group’s members to confuse the IDF is "simply the use of slang from their villages – from their families."

"Anyone listening trying to decode the language will not easily be able to find out what they mean," Nasrallah said, smiling as he recited "code" such as "cooking pot" and "donkey."

Hezbollah periodically claims to out Israeli spies within its ranks, and uncover Israeli espionage equipment stashed in southern Lebanon, the terrorist group’s stronghold, while Israel decries the terrorist group’s use of Lebanese villages and populated areas to hide weapons.

While Hezbollah’s "resistance" to Israel is carried out via paramilitary operations, the group has worked for years to build political clout in Lebanon, and today boasts 12 members in the March 8 Alliance, Lebanon’s ruling coalition.

Underling such regional political influence, the Hezbollah leader spoke extensively about his group’s attempts to encourage the armed opposition in neighboring Syria to work with Syrian President Bashar Assad, whom Hezbollah supports.

Nasrallah reiterated his group’s support for the Assad regime, despite strong international and Arab objection to the Syrian president’s violent handling of the anti-government opposition.

Hezbollah, along with Iran and Russia, have been the most outspoken supporters of Assad as he continues for over a year to battle rebels demanding he step down. The Syrian conflict has resulted in the deaths of more than 9,000 people, according to the United Nations.

Still, while Nasrallah recognized that both Assad and the opposition may have crossed "red lines," he said Hezbollah “hasn’t backed down in the face of Israeli and American pressure" and shifted alliances.

Hezbollah encouraged armed rebels to engage in a dialogue with Damascus, an offer that the opposition refused.

As long as the doors to a political solution are closed, Nasrallah warned, then the fighting will continue.

Nasrallah explained that Hezbollah’s support of Assad was rooted in the Syrian president’s service to the "Palestinian cause." He insisted that Damascus is "willing to undergo reforms and prepared for dialogue," and added that Hezbollah would happily fulfill the role of an external arbiter between Assad and the opposition.

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Jim Wall’s essay this week is a doozie, a veritable doozie indeed.  Be sure and read the reader comments, also.  You may find yourself leaving a comment of your own.

In this week’s essay, Jim alludes to his conviction that Iran is not our enemy.  He reminds us about the upcoming national conferences of the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches who plan to make concrete proposals for Holy Land peace within months.  Jim, an ordained Methodist clergyman, closes his essay with a letter written by John Wesley, an Anglican Priest, to a man named William Wilberforce which is a letter that could have been written to each and every one of us.  “If God be for you, who can stand against you?”  John and his brother, Charles, were among the original founders of the Methodist Movement in Great Britain.  They were known for the “methodical” ways they organized their lives.  They made promises, etc. 

I, also, like to quote John Wesley (b 1703 d 1791).  He was a highly educated man who spent much of his time with disadvantaged people.  And he thereby developed an unusually comprehensive world view.  I enjoy telling the story of how Wesley attended a prayer meeting one evening in a very poor district of London and “felt his heart strangely warmed”.  He began to regard the whole world as his parish.  On one occasion he was asked by an Anglican Bishop:  “Why will you not be content with a reasonable piety?”  Wesley made several missionary trips to the American colonies, and visited Georgia every chance he got.  Jim Wall was born in Georgia (Monroe), as some of you know, and so was I (Swainsboro).  Wesley remained an Anglican Priest throughout his lifetime.  Methodists got themselves organized, and, unfortunately, there eventually was a schism.  It’s a sad, sad chapter in Anglican Church History that our noble institutions, with our treasured traditions, were unable to accommodate all the energy (spirit) that was generated by the Methodist Movement. Not to worry.  We Anglicans have learned a lot over the years, and our best days are ahead of us.  Our General Convention will be meeting again soon.  We can contact Jim at his website: Wallwritings

Cheers,
Peace,
Roy

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John Wesley –a spiritual father of the BDS campaign?

“Throw Their Dirty, Filthy Ships Out of the Water!”
by James M. Wall

In the 2006 movie, Amazing Grace, John Newton shouts these words at William Wilberforce, a member of Parliament who was the leader of  a 19th century fight to  force the British government to bar British ships and ports from participating in the slave trade.

The “dirty, filthy ships” to which Newton refers are slave ships which sailed from England to Africa and then to the New World.

Newton (Albert Finney) delivers his demand to his younger friend Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd) at a time when the younger man was faltering in his struggle against pro-slavery members of  Parliament

This conflict is captured in precise and dramatic detail in the film, as Wilberforce and his allies in the Parliament, and from anti-slavery groups, visit slave ships and meet with former slaves.

John Newton had been the owner and captain of one of those ships. Following a major storm in the Atlantic that almost sank his ship, Newton repented of what he knew was a great sin, the mistreatment of fellow human beings.

Newton returned to England to become what he later termed, “an old preacher”.  He also wrote hymns, the most famous of which was Amazing Grace, which contains the line, “I once was lost but now I am found, was blind, but now I see”.

Newton had known Wilberforce for many years, constantly encouraging him to continue his long abolitionist struggle, first to bar all slave ships from English ports and then to eliminate slavery throughout the United Kingdom.

At the time pro-slavery members of Parliament argued that the slave shipping trade brought economic benefit to England. Some even maintained that slaves were content with their lot; others argued slaves were sub-human.

Amazing Grace, directed by Michael Apted, traces the friendship of Wilberforce and Newton.  It also examines Wilberforce’s growth as a political leader, and not so incidentally, as a friend of William Pitt, his friend who became Prime Minister at the age of 24.

Pitt was a cautious politician. He was also a supporter of Wilberforce’s idealism. Another important historical figure who is not portrayed in the film, is John Wesley

When I revisited the film this week, less than a week before the United Methodist Conference opens, I was struck by a historical parallel, and most especially, I was moved by Newton’s violent outburst to Wilberforce.

I found myself thinking, we are well past time to “throw this dirty, filthy Occupation out of United Methodist waters”.

Of course, historical parallels are never exact. But it is not unusual for us to see moments from the past resonating with moments of the present.

The current Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is never reluctant to link the Holocaust as a moment in time which constantly threatens to reappear whenever a political action fails to go to his liking.

The matter of Iran’s alleged development of nuclear arms, is a case in point.

I find sufficient evil in Israel’s Occupation to justify a connection between Britain’s 19th century approval of slavery, on economic grounds, and the American support of an Israeli Occupation which continues to imprison the Palestinian population.

On Tuesday of this upcoming week, April 24, the United Methodist Church (UMC) begins its ten-day Quadrennial General Conference (GC) in Tampa, Florida.

High on the legislative agenda of GC is a resolution, Aligning United Methodist Investments with Resolutions on Israel/Palestine.

Contrary to the many deliberately misleading descriptions of this resolution, it is designed to do exactly what it says in its title, “align its church investments with previous resolutions on Israel/Palestine”.

The divestment resolution does not call for a boycott of the state of Israel. It is narrowly focused,  an internal church document which mandates that the church’s financial managers (the General Board of Pensions) divest all church fund investments in three American companies that directly support Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank.

The three companies are Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola, a specificity that emerges from more than eight years of study, dialogue with these companies and considerable debate in local “annual conferences”, many of which sent their own versions of the divestment resolution to the GC.

The process is quite methodical, appropriately enough, for a denomination that mirrors the practices of the 18th century Methodist societies which were derisively labeled “methodists” by the Anglican hierarchy, which branded “methodists” as outliers to the established Church of England.

It was this Church that, among other things, banned John Wesley from pulpits of the Church of England, the body in which John and his brother Charles Wesley (author of many hymns) were ordained.

This led the Wesleys to take to fields and tree stumps to proclaim a fresh, new message of salvation and methodical practices that emphasized discipline,  personal spiritual growth and social action against sin.

The Wesley brothers instructed their followers to see the Christian faith as an instruction manual for social justice, including Wesley’s strong opposition to the immoral practice of slavery.

Wesley despised slavery. He also knew the work of Wilbur Wilberforce and had followed his career as a politician fighting an uphill battle against the evils of slavery.

The last letter that John Wesley wrote before his death in 1791, was to William Wilberforce, who earlier had been converted under Wesley’s ministry.

Wesley wrote to Wilberforce on February 24, 1791, eight days before Wesley’s death on March 2, 1791. The letter encourages Wilberforce to continue his fight against slavery.

The letter begins with a Latin phrase, Athanasius contra mundum, which translates as “Athanasius against the world”.

Wesley was a theologian to the end. Even in his final letter, he could not resist recalling one of his favorite themes.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 296-373 AD) was a early church father who was a vigorous opponent of Arianism (an early Church heresy that taught that Jesus was a subservient and created being).

Here, in its entirety, is Wesley’s final written words, addressed to William Wilberforce:

Dear Sir:

Unless the divine power has raised you us [sic] to be as Athanasius contra mundum, [emphasis added] I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that execrable villainy which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature.

Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be fore you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.

Reading this morning a tract wrote [sic] by a poor African, I was particularly struck by that circumstance that a man who has a black skin, being wronged or outraged by a white man, can have no redress; it being a “law” in our colonies that the oath of a black against a white goes for nothing. What villainy is this?

That he who has guided you from youth up may continue to strengthen you in this and all things, is the prayer of, dear sir,

Your affectionate servant,
John Wesley

I propose no firm historical linkage between slavery and Occupation, but I do propose a linkage between the demand for action called for by John Newton against slavery, and the passage of a divestment resolution by United Methodist General Conference delegates as a 21st century demand for the UMC to halt its financial support of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian people.

It is well past time to “throw this dirty, filthy Occupation out of United Methodist waters”.