Here is a wonderful piece in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, which is a conservative paper, a Richard Mellon Scaife paper, by Leila Richards, called “It’s not about Israel, it’s about freedom.” It is important because it goes right at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs letter signed by many Jewish leaders that threatens a breach in interfaith relations if the Presbyterians divest. I think this is a trend: Protestants being much more direct about human rights and being able to dismiss the overwhelming Jewish fears as inappropriate.
Yet the [JCPA] letter does not say a word about the principal Presbyterian concern: Israel’s military occupation and confiscation of Palestinian land.
The letter argues that divestment would somehow “justify the violence perpetrated against Israeli civilians — including children.”
It does no such thing. We find such violence abhorrent. And the threat of undoing Jewish-Christian relations is intended to make us shrink from principled support for Palestinian rights in the face of decades of Israeli oppression.
We will not.
The three companies targeted by the Presbyterian divestment proposal provide strategic assistance to the occupation and profit from it. Caterpillar bulldozers demolish homes, uproot olive trees and build settlements and the Wall…
The letter to the Presbyterian commissioners ignores the fact that more than 500,000 Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are living on land that, according to international law, has been illegally confiscated.
We urge our Jewish brothers and sisters in so many battles for civil and human rights to see the occupation for themselves and get on the right side of history.
Leila Richards is a member of the East Liberty Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh. She served as a physician at the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza from 1988-89 and as a volunteer with the World Council of Churches in the West Bank in 2004.
One other thing Richards does is make olive trees prominent. I think this is a very important tactic. Five Broken Cameras makes a point of showing us the burning skeletons of olive trees. Extremely powerful imagery. The trees are innocent, the trees were planted by the villagers’ grandparents. I believe such images will impact Americans in a way that other images cannot.