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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Moral Failure in Gaza

Gaza Ambulance
My pastor, Robin Meyers, of the Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ, sent us this message he received from John H. Thomas the General Minister and President of the UCC. Rev. Thomas talks about the UCC's attempt to help with the relief effort for civilians affected by the fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Reports from relief workers in Gaza that we relate to are grim. Also discouraging is the fact that the email blast we sent out on Tuesday with an appeal for funds and a call to action, along with a statement and a lot of background material generated very limited response.

One person complained that we were too anti-Israel. That was about it. I think the public, including most of our members, has bought the administration line that this is about "our friend Israel fighting terrorists." No reference to the broader context of illegal settlements,the wall that is a land grab, the repression of the Occupation, the relentless removal of Palestinians from Jerusalem, and the dwindlingo pportunity for a really viable state. We try, but. . .

I've been invited on Thursday to a meeting with the Transition Team in DC on the subject of Israel-Palestine. This in response to an excellent briefing paper Peter Makari prepared for them. But the "point person" apparently named by the Obama team appears to be AIPAC's dream come true. So I don't anticipate much. Michael Kinnamon has been trying to get a meeting this week with the Israeli ambassador [,]and if that happens I'm to accompany him.

Moral failure? As my time winds down I'm more and more conscious of many failures, none more dismal than the failure of the churches at all levels to mount a consistent and persistent resistance to the war in Iraq and the attending evils.

I'm involved in the Religious Coalition Against Torture and will be in a press conference on Wednesday once again calling for the President/President-elect to adopt a Declaration of Principles Against Torture supported by church leaders and military leaders alike. But. . .too little too late?

At the end of this month we have scheduled a major consultation here on Israel-Palestine and how the UCC can assert itself more aggressively. But even that may now need to be cancelled or postponed as our Palestinian participants are cancelling - either they need to be involved in relief work there and/or are afraid that if they leave the West Bank [,] Israel may make it difficult for them to return. I'm trying to keep my gloom relatively quiet, but as you may sense here, I'm not in a great place at the moment. Thanks for your friendship and passion.

If you wish to help with the United Church of Christ's Gaza relief efforts, go to Gaza Humanitarian Aid Effort at this link.

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