The United Reform Church, (URC) passed significant resolutions about the situation in Israel/ Palestine at their General Assembly, (9th-12th July). They voiced their concern over the ‘de facto’ annexation of the occupied Palestinian Territories, the expansion of the settlements and home demolitions. They have asked local churches to refrain from purchasing products made in Israeli settlements and are reviewing their investments in companies profiting from them.
• Lord, we see these URC resolutions as an encouragement and take them as a reminder that ‘the Palestinians are not forgotten’, as Rev Dr Munther Isaac commented. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.
Dr Cornel West, a prominent American philosopher and activist, resigned as a professor at Harvard Divinity School after four years of teaching there. On Monday, the 12th of July, he published his resignation letter on social media. It cited his support of Palestine as one of the reasons the university denied him tenure. He will be rejoining the faculty of the Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where he first taught 44 years ago.
• Lord Jesus you told us that ‘whatever is said in the dark shall be heard in the light’ (Luke12:3). We thank you for prophetic voices ready to speak out clearly about injustice, even at personal cost. We pray for academics like Dr West who pay a heavy price for holding the powerful to account. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, (PCBS), reported on Tuesday, the 13th of July, that the unemployment rate among Palestinian university graduates reached 54%in 2020,(35% in the West Bank;78% in Gaza). Most graduates between the ages of 20-29years have to search for their first job for a period of 10 months to two years.
· Lord, we thank you for the determination of many young Palestinians to pursue higher education and employment despite the difficulties they face. We pray for them that they may be resourceful and steadfast even as the pandemic has reduced the availability of work. Lord in your mercy…hear our prayers.
On Sunday, 18th July, a number of Muslim worshippers were injured by Israeli occupation forces as they prayed at the Al Aqsa Mosque to celebrate Eid al-Adha. Israeli authorities had allowed a big number of Jews to enter the compound to pray as they commemorated Tisha B’av, with armed guards, something which is normally forbidden during the Eid celebrations.
· Lord, we pray for peace and order in the city of Jerusalem. We pray that the occupying Israeli authorities would respect the agreed upon rules for visiting Al Aqsa Mosque. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.
On Sunday, the 11th of July, the Israeli Cabinet approved the deduction of 597 million shekels from the tax revenue it collects for the Palestinian Authority,(PA). This sum is equivalent to the sum paid to families of Palestinian prisoners and families of those killed by Israeli forces. The deduction will increase the burden on the PA to cover public sector wages.
• Lord, the Israeli occupation comes at such a high cost to the Palestinian economy. We remember the families who are struggling with poverty, unemployment and sickness. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.
600 academics and artists from more than 45 countries recently signed a petition calling for the immediate end to the Israeli apartheid regime and to the occupation of Palestine. The petition calls for a democratic constitution that ensures equal rights and an end to discrimination based on race, ethnic origin or religion.
• Lord, we thank you that voices around the world are crying out for change in Israel. We long to see the human rights of all those living in Palestine/ Israel fully respected. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.
On Thursday, the 8th of July, the Israeli Civil Administration handed out a demolition order against the cemetery in the village of al-Deirat, east of Yatta in south Hebron. The villagers are mainly dependent on agriculture and livestock rearing and have been subjected to land theft from two nearby Israeli settlements, as well as the construction of a by-pass road and military installations.
• Lord, we pray for the villagers in al-Deirat as they see the land of their village cemetery annexed by the Israeli authorities. We pray that international lawmakers will openly challenge the Israeli government’s theft of occupied land. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.
This week’s Kumi Now online gathering focused on the Israeli apartheid wall. On the 20th of July, 2004, the UN passed a resolution declaring the illegality of Israel’s separation wall under international law. Israel has used the wall, settlements and military zones to prohibit Palestinians access to 60% of land in the West Bank.
Next week’s Kumi Now will explore the issue of family unification, a right denied to many Palestinians and causing great heartache and suffering.
• Lord of compassion and mercy, we pray for those Palestinians who are cut off from their land by the wall and those cut off from their families by racist laws. We pray for a spirit of hope to fill the hearts of all those suffering under the Israeli occupation. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.
The World Council of Churches has recently launched the East Jerusalem Initiative. WCC-EAPPI has been accompanying communities in East Jerusalem for over a decade. They are unable to be physically present with communities threatened with forced evictions at the moment, but they aim to continue supporting them through advocacy. They are using this initiative to raise awareness about the discriminatory laws faced by families in Sheikh Jarrah and other similarly affected neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.
• Lord Jesus, we draw near in faith to you. We bring the WCC initiative to you as they advocate for Palestinian families facing evictions from their homes in East Jerusalem. We pray that the prayers and interventions of all people of goodwill around the world will stop the displacement of these communities. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.
On Monday, the 5th of July, the Knesset fortunately failed to extend the Family Reunification measure of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law. This law was first enacted in 2003 and has been renewed each year since then. It prevents Palestinian citizens of Israel from extending their citizenship and residency rights to their spouses from the occupied West Bank, including east Jerusalem or Gaza. This law was cited by the recent Human Rights Watch report as an example of the discriminatory laws faced by Palestinians living under occupation.
· Lord, we pray for a repeal of all discriminatory Israeli laws used to undermine the human rights of Palestinians. We pray that the Israeli lawmakers would extend grace to all their citizens without prejudice or racist intent. Lord, in your mercy …hear our prayers.