October 12, 2015

UUJME Statement on Escalating Tensions in Palestine-Israel: Suspend Military Aid

The Board of Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East (UUJME) is deeply saddened and alarmed by the increasing violence in Palestine-Israel. The past several months have seen an escalation in Palestinian protests in response to killings and attacks on property and religious sites by Israeli settlers, many of whom carry guns and use them at will and with near-total impunity. A growing number of Palestinians have been killed, including children, with hundreds injured and hundreds more arrested. A growing number of Israelis are being killed and injured.

Our U.S. tax dollars are paying for the occupation in the form of billions of dollars in weapons. In the next month, the U.S. government is considering a $45 billion military aid package for Israel over the next 10 years, a 50% increase. See www.timesofisrael.com/israel-asking-us-for-50-increase-in-next-defense-package. UUJME believes that the path to peace, justice, and security for Israelis and Palestinians is not to be found in more military aid.


Each one of the seven UU principles calls us to stand with Israelis and Palestinians to reject the proposed $45 billion military aid package for Israel. Contact U.S. officials and tell them "SUSPEND MILITARY AID TO ISRAEL until it ends the occupation and stops building settlements."

White House: 202- 456-1111, or email President Barack Obama.

Secretary of State's office: 202-647-4000; leave a message.

Federal Senate and House Switchboard: 202-224-3121. Ask the receptionist to connect you to your Senators and Representative.

Contact your representative by email.

Contact your Senators by email.

The Palestinian Red Crescent has declared a state of emergency after attacks on its ambulances and medical personnel by Israeli soldiers and settlers, and due to the growing number of deaths and injuries. Each incident produces a wave of protests, with Palestinian protestors targeted with lethal force, and vigilante style attacks against both Israelis and Palestinians.

The latest escalation of violence is not a conflict between two equal sides, but between a powerful state's military occupation infrastructure and a relatively defenseless occupied civilian population. The situation is the longest military occupation in modern history, 48 years. The occupation denies freedom and equality to millions of Palestinians and also represses Israelis who oppose the occupation.

For More Information

The Israeli peace and justice group Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc) stated, "Reality is now exploding in our faces. Moment by moment, the occupation becomes ever more violent and dangerous. This right-wing government is a grave danger to all who live here. We all, on both sides, pay the price – and it becomes ever higher, with every passing day.”

Jewish Voice for Peace stated that “Nonviolent protest, economic pressure, and an end to unconditional U. S. military and diplomatic aid to Israel are the path towards a long term resolution that ends the occupation and brings about full equality for all people in the region.”

The American Friends Service Committee petition states that the $45 billion “will purchase weapons and resources that will help Israel enforce the occupation, keep Gaza under blockade, and continue violating Palestinians’ human rights. These weapons will also encourage regional arms races which sustain regional conflicts and instability.”

A Code Pink petition states “Israel uses US made and bought weapons to commit egregious human rights violations and war crimes against Palestinians living under its brutal military occupation in violation of US laws such as the Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance Acts.

See the petition supported by Jewish Voice for Peace, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and other groups.

Partial Timeline of Violent Incidents

The following are just a sample of incidents since the end of July 2015. These kinds of incidents have been occurring for years, and are becoming more frequent. Warning: images at some links are graphic. Many other examples can be viewed at

Request a Study Guide

UUJME urges UUs to learn more about the situation. Visit our Learn and Reflect page on our website and request a free packet of study guides and DVDs today. UUJME released the first national UU curriculum on Palestine-Israel in June 2015, The 7 UU Principles and Palestine-Israel, available for free downloading at the same URL.

Seek Community

Consider joining or starting a chapter or group. Information is available on our Chapters and Groups page.

Learn About Occupation Investments

Learn more about companies profiting from the occupation at whoprofits.org, a research center started by Palestinian and Jewish women.

Forward to Friends and Contacts

Others can sign up to receive periodic important email updates and alerts from Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East on our website, or by sending a message to adminassist@uujme.org indicating that you would like to be included on our email list. Please specify which list(s) you prefer:
  • Action Alert (periodic requests to contact elected officials, sign a petition, or take other action for urgent situations)
  • News Alert (periodic news updates between newsletters)
  • Newsletter (maximum four emails per year)

September 6, 2015

Witness Palestine Film Series

Witness Palestine Rochester is Proud to Announce the 2015 Film Selections
The Witness Palestine Film Series is back at The Little and St. John Fisher College offering five films in September and October.
September 27, 28; October 4, 5, 2015 at The Little and October 7 at St. John Fisher College. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A FLYER

This is our fourth year seeking to enlighten and entertain with films about the people of Palestine: their culture, their situation, and their struggle. As we have from the beginning, we offer a discussion immediately following each screening featuring your questions fielded by a panelist connected with the film's topic.

The Wanted 18: Sunday, September 27, 2:00 p.m. at The Little, Screen 5
This is the true story of a Palestinian village that purchases 18 cows from Israel so they can have their own independent supply of milk and break the Israeli stranglehold on supplying goods. When the State of Israel realizes their mistake, the ensuing search for the 'fugitive' cows amongst the villagers provides a poignant and humorous perspective on civil disobedience. The cows are shown in delightful animation. The people are not actors; they're the actual people of Beit Sahour in the West Bank.

Roadmap to Apartheid: Monday, September 28, 6:45 p.m. at The Little, Screen 5
This award-winning documentary shows us why many Palestinians feel they are living in an Apartheid system today and why an increasing number of people around the world agree with them. We wonder, "Is peace possible?" The hopeful message at the end suggests that peace is, indeed, possible.

Where Should the Birds Fly: Sunday, October 4, 2:00 p.m. at The Little, Screen 5
In this documentary with powerful images, we see life in Gaza through the eyes of two young women. Their true life experiences are not for the faint of heart. "Here in Gaza we are like caged birds. We can't fly or breathe or sing. We are locked in a cage of sadness and sorrows." – Mona Samouni, 10 years old.

Al Helm: Martin Luther King in Palestine: Monday, October 5, 6:45 p.m. at The Little, Screen 5
Come travel with an African-American gospel choir as they work alongside members of the Palestinian National Theatre to adapt, rehearse, and then perform a play about Martin Luther King, for Palestinian audiences in the West Bank. Choir members, drawn from devoutly Christian churches, are traveling to the Middle East for the first time. The singers hope to be a voice for change, but are themselves profoundly changed by the experience.

The Road to Silverstone: Wednesday, October 7, 7:00 p.m. at St. John Fisher College, Basil Hall, Room 135
The Road to Silverstone tells the true story of a group of young Palestinians from a technical college in Gaza who succeed in building a Formula 1 racing car and getting it to Britain's famous Silverstone track.

I invite you to join us. Full program information on films, panelists, and other events is available at WitnessPalestineRochester.org.

If your friends would like to get announcements from us, please ask them to send a mail note to events-join@cw4p.org.

July 25, 2015

10-year anniversary of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions

This month marks the 10-year anniversary of the Palestinian call to the international community for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to end Israels decades long occupation of Palestine.

The world has responded to that call: global grassroots groups have pushed for boycott of products made in the illegal settlements, for divestment from companies profiting from the occupation, and for national and international bodies to hold Israel accountable for its actions.

This grassroots non-violent movement is bearing fruit: BDS has cost companies and supporters of the occupation billions in lost contracts. Just as important, its changing the political conversation in faith communities as well as in boardrooms and on college campuses. 

Last month, our co-religionists at the United Church of Christ voted by an 80% margin at their General Synod to divest from the occupation and to boycott products made in the settlements.

With that vote, UCC joins the Presbyterian Church USA, the United Methodist Church and others who are putting pressure on Israel to comply with international law.

For the interfaith movement, it is clear that ongoing occupation, destruction of homes, detention of children and expanding settlements are actions that violate every value and principle we claim to hold dear. As the UCC Palestine Israel Network said: the days of praying for peace and paying for occupation are over.

So, what can you, a Unitarian Universalist, do?

1)    Recognize that as U.S. citizens and taxpayers whose government supports this ongoing violation of human rights tragedy we share a responsibility to educate ourselves and friends or members of your congregation about BDS.

2)    Background: http://www.endtheoccupation.org/section.php?id=203

3) Watch an explanation of BDS by Omar Barghouti, one of the movements founders: 


4) Consider starting a study group, using our newly released study guide The 7 UU Principles and Palestine-Israel or one of the study guides prepared by the Israel-Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Access the curriculum on our website, uujme.org; email curriculum@uujme.org for ideas and to connect with a growing network of study group leaders across the country.

5) Read the history of BDS struggles among the Quakers, Mennonites, Methodists, Presbyterians and UCC participants below.

Interfaith divestment victories:

AFSC divests from dozens of companies


Lake Erie Yearly Meeting calls for boycott and divestment


MCC unanimously adopts AFSC no-buy list for divestment


PC(USA) votes to boycott settlement products


PC(USA) divests from companies involved in Israeli occupation


Quaker FFC divests from Caterpillar


Quaker FFC divests from HP, Veolia


UCC votes to boycott and divest from Israeli occupation


UMC votes to boycott settlement products


Eleven Annual Conferences of the UMC, representing thousands of churches, divest and endorse actions to end occupation


UMC divests from G4S in response to role in Israeli prisons



Action Alert!

Reverend David Etherington has sent us an urgent update about the Palestinian village of Susiya. The original village was forcibly evacuated a few decades ago to give access to a Jewish archaeological site. The families built a tent village and have been living with minimal services since then and have suffered the demolition of their tent village three times already. This will affect 450 people including 120 children. Rev. Etherington is part of thenWorld Council of Churches Ecumenical Accompaniment Team and has served as an accompanier in the past year. He was called urgently to return in June to be part of an international team to prevent the demolition. To take action, call 

White House 202-456-1111
Secretary of State Kerry 202-647-4000
Congress switchboard 202-224-3121
Read Rev. Etherington's letter at Action Alert Updates.

Stop the Demolition of Susiya

July 3, 2015

Letter from Rev. Etherington | June 2015; Susiya, Palestine

Just 14 months ago, I said my goodbyes to the residents of Susiya. And now I have returned to this village in the South Hebron Hills as it faces threats of imminent demolition and a forced removal of all those living here. I have returned to Susiya at the invitation of the World Council of Churches to be part of a team of internationals providing ecumenical accompaniment and protective presence to the village in hopes that a demolition and removal may be put off.

My arrival in Susiya coincided with the first day of Ramadan, the most holy time in the Muslim year, a time of fasting for the month. This month of fasting begins with the daily call to prayer in the pre-dawn hours and ends at the sunset call to prayer. This period of Ramadan will end July 18 and is a time of reflection and reformation of the soul. CLICK TO READ MORE

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