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Alliance of Baptists Affirm Statement on BDS
For Immediate Release: Alliance of Baptists Affirm Statement on BDS
Alliance of Baptists National Gathering
April 8-10, 2016
Kirkwood Baptist Church, St. Louis, Mo.
Contact Person: G.J. Tarazi, 703.568-0820; firstname.lastname@example.org
During their National Gathering on April 8-10 in St. Louis, The Alliance of Baptists affirmed the use of nonviolent boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) strategies and comprehensive education and advocacy programs to end the 49-year Israeli military occupation of Palestinian land. The Justice in Palestine and Israel Community presented the statement.
Affirming this bold and courageous statement coincided with the 69th commemoration of the Dier Yassin Massacre, which occurred in 1947. The small, ancient Palestinian village of Dier Yassin stood in the path of the charging Zionist militia, led by Menachem Begin, a future Prime Minister of the soon-to-be created State of Israel. The massacre, which killed more than 100 innocent children, women, and men, was one of the first in the on-going ethnic cleansing of Palestinians that continues to the present. On this same day – 69 years later – the Alliance of Baptists said, “That’s enough!”
This has been a slow and intentional effort to following Jesus in working for peace with justice. During their annual gathering in 2013, the Alliance responded to the Kairos Palestine document of 2009 with a statement of support. The Kairos Palestine document, written by Palestinian Christians, invited Christians from around the world to join them in bringing about peace with justice to the Holy Land, by saying:
We, a group of Christian Palestinians, after prayer, reflection and an exchange of opinion, cry out from within the suffering in our country, under the Israeli occupation…. The cruel circumstances in which the Palestinian Church has lived and continues to live have required the Church to clarify her faith and to identify her vocation… Today, we bear the strength of love rather than that of revenge, a culture of life rather than a culture of death.
In September of 2015, the Alliance’s Justice in Palestine and Israel Community led a conference with the goal of learning about BDS so they can better discern what they can do individually and corporately. Even though this conference was scheduled to be held at Wake Forest Baptist Church, on the campus of Wake Forest University, intense political pressure from anti-BDS individuals and groups within the university forced the Alliance to relocate it to other venues. In spite of this focused and well-connected opposition, the conference brought together a variety of Christian, Jewish and Muslim voices, all calling for the use of nonviolent BDS strategies to end the Israeli occupation. The conferees learned about the history, philosophy, purpose, strategies and effectiveness of BDS to ensure that those in power will abide by recognized international laws and human rights standards.
This statement is comprehensive in its scope. In addition to calling on the Endowment Committee of the Alliance Board of Directors in divesting from companies and corporations that continuously and knowingly perpetuate, support, or profit from human rights violations as part of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, the statement outlines far-reaching efforts, including encouraging Alliance members to begin with prayer. It states that, “We know that war, oppression, and injustice in Palestine and Israel have victims on all sides. The oppressors and the oppressed are both victims of the oppression. We pray for peace with justice in Palestine and Israel for Jews, Muslims, and Christians.” The statement invites Alliance members to “counter the dangerous and growing climate of hatred and hostility toward all Muslims by avoiding stereotyping and publicly challenging all forms of racism and religious bigotry directed against Jews and Muslims.”
The work of the Alliance is another small victory in the persistent efforts of faith-based groups to be God’s hands in bending the long and stubborn moral arc of the universe toward justice. This small victory gives us hope and feeds our determination.