Chicago IL—6 June 2023 Today, in honour of the anniversary of the 1967 Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, we are joining a coalition of faith groups and secular organizations to launch the Apartheid-Free campaign. We call on congregations, faith communities, schools, and organizations to take a pledge to work against apartheid in all its forms and support an end to Israeli apartheid against Palestinians. The launch will be accompanied by an online event on June 6 at 5PM PT/8 PM ET. Participants and journalists can register here.
“Israeli apartheid devastates lives and destroys communities,” said Dov Baum, director of Economic Activism for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). “As an Israeli Jewish person myself, I see how its violence corrupts all levels of Israeli society. It is time for progressives in the U.S. to stop their misguided and indiscriminate support of this racist regime and call for true equality and freedom for all people in Palestine/Israel.”
More than 75 congregations, faith groups, and organizations have declared themselves “apartheid-free” and pledged to take action against Israeli apartheid. This includes three denomination-level signatories – the United Church of Christ (UCC), South Central Yearly Meeting (Quaker) and the Alliance of Baptists – as well as Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Interfaith groups.
All people are equal and should be treated with dignity and respect. But for decades, the Palestinian people have faced Israeli settler colonialism and occupation enforced through racist and discriminatory legal regimes, forced displacement, blockade and movement restrictions, and systematic human rights abuses. According to legal scholars and the international human rights community, this situation constitutes the crime of Apartheid. It must end.
As people of conscience and loving communities, we stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their call for equal and full rights. Inspired by the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, we want to declare our own communities “Apartheid-Free.” Organizations who take the pledge also commit to take action to help end apartheid, including educational and advocacy efforts, faith-based initiatives, and divestment actions.
“Some of the UCC’s Palestinian partners have named their situation as apartheid for years,” said Dr. Peter E. Makari, Global Relations Minister, Middle East and Europe Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ. “It is imperative that we name the reality of laws and practices for what it is: apartheid – both as an international legal definition and as our moral responsibility to speak truth – as we accompany partners in their struggle for justice. As a church that has been privileged to enjoy partnerships with Palestinian Christians, among others, we continue to walk with them in solidarity, and supporting this Apartheid-Free campaign can be a part of that witness.”
The idea for an Apartheid-Free campaign took root in 2022, following the emerging consensus among the international human rights community that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people amounts to the crime of apartheid. An interdenominational coalition of faith groups in North America, convened by AFSC, came together to organize the pledge. This coalition includes Black Christians for Palestine, Community Peacemaker Teams (CPT), Episcopal Peace Fellowship – Palestine Israel Network (EPF PIN), Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (IPMN), Justice for Palestine and Israel Community of the Alliance of Baptists, Mennonite Palestine Israel Network (MennoPIN), Quaker Palestine Israel Network (QPIN), United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network (UCC-PIN), United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR), and Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East (UUJME).
“Christian communities have a particular responsibility to support Palestinians since it is our religion that has been co-opted into a distorted and anti-Semitic interpretation through Christian Zionism,” said Rev. Allison Tanner, national organizer for the Apartheid-Free Communities Initiative. “Christian Zionists are by far the largest single supporters of Israel and have created the largest pro-Israel lobby in the country. It is time for Christians to rise up and say this violence can no longer be committed in our name.”
For decades, the Palestinian people have faced Israeli occupation enforced through racist and discriminatory legal regimes, forced displacement, blockade and movement restrictions, and systematic human rights abuses. The Apartheid-Free coalition has published a collection of resources about Israeli apartheid, including reports from all mainstream human rights organizations and legal experts explaining the use of this legal terminology, videos, webinars, and study guides.
Learn more at https://apartheid-free.org/