The Palestinian National Committee for Boycot, Divestment and Sanctions (BNC) has warmly welcomed a historicÂ open letterÂ by the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine (NCCOP) urging the World Council of Churches (WCC) to â€śrecognize Israel as an apartheid state,â€ť support the nonviolent, Palestinian-led global BDS movement, help intensify BDSÂ campaigns and actively refuse Christian complicity in ongoing Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights.
Notably, the NCCOP recalled the WCCâ€™s â€ścourageous and pivotal prophetic leadershipâ€ť in its work to end the apartheid regimeâ€™s racist rule in South Africa, and called on it to be consistent and play the same inspiring role in ending Israeli apartheid against the entire Palestinian people today.
Calling on the WCC to work against Christian complicity in sustaining Israeli apartheid, the NCCOP said it was â€śdisturbed by the fact that States and churches are dealing with Israel as if the situation were normal, ignoring the reality of occupation, discrimination and daily death in the land.â€ť
The NCCOP specifically called on the World Council of Churches to defend the Palestinian right to advocate for BDS campaigns until Israel â€ścomplies with international lawâ€ť and ends its regime of â€śoccupation, apartheid and discriminations, and accepts [the right of] refugees to return to their home land and properties.â€ť In point 7 of its call to action, the NCCOP went further and asked the WCC to itself help â€śintensifyâ€ť BDS measures.
Omar Barghouti from the BNC said,
We salute the brave and principled call issued by the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine urging the World Council of Churches to support the BDS movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality. We sincerely hope that the World Council of Churches will do the right thing, as it did with apartheid South Africa, and adopt the coalitionâ€™s call to action in defense of human dignity.
Palestinian hope was boosted when some of the largest churches in the United States, including the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church and the United Church of Christ divested from Israeli banks or complicit international corporations, and when nonviolent BDS pressure compelled some of the largest multinationals to end their involvement in Israelâ€™s illegal projects.
Now, the World Council of Churches has the historic opportunity to further Palestinian hope for freedom and once again stand on the right side of history.
The National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine represents a cross-section of the most prominent Christian Palestinian organizations in present-day Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory , including those in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Gaza.
About 200,000 Christian Palestinians currently reside in historic Palestine, descendants of some of the oldest Christian communities in the world. As an integral part of the Palestinian people subjected to half a century of Israeli military occupation andÂ nearly 70 years of ongoing dispossession and apartheid, they suffer from widespread official and unofficial Israeli discrimination and hate crimes, whether they are citizens of Israel, live under Israeli military rule or have been rendered refugees denied their right of return to their homeland.
The World Council of Churches includes 348 member churches in more than 110 countries, representing over 500 million Christians.
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. It leads and supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Visit our website and follow us on Twitter @BDSmovement
(Edited for the IMEMC by chris @ imemc.org)
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Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip, and continues into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.