Faith groups across the country pledge to end support of Israeli apartheid

OAKLAND, CA (June 1, 2023)  On June 6 – the anniversary of the 1967 Israeli occupation of Palestine – a coalition of many faith groups and secular organizations will announce the public launch of the Apartheid-Free campaign. They are calling 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.”

Already, more than 65 congregations, faith groups, and organizations have come out today calling themselves "apartheid-free” and pledging to take action against Israeli apartheid. This includes three nationwide 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. 

“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 to use of this legal terminology, videos, webinars, and study guides.

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. Currently 69 organizations have taken the pledge, with many more expected in the coming weeks and months.

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The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) promotes a world free of violence, inequality, and oppression. Guided by the Quaker belief in the divine light within each person, we nurture the seeds of change and the respect for human life to fundamentally transform our societies and institutions. We work with people and partners worldwide, of all faiths and backgrounds, to meet urgent community needs, challenge injustice, and build peace.