Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Protest Chaplains Participated in Chicago Rally and March

Protest Chaplains of Chicago were asked to provide protective presence during Chicago’s emergency rally and march on the escalation of violence in Gaza on November 19th. Six chaplains accompanied about 1,000 people in downtown Chicago on Monday night. Included were three ordained ministers. Many of the chaplains reported that people came up to them to thank them for their participation. One of the chaplains reported de-escalating a situation with a male protestor. Another observed the police stepping in and taking care of a situation where someone assaulted an Arab family. The violent provocateur was immediately subdued by the police. All in all it was a spirited and nonviolent protest against the rising escalation of  violence in the region.  One of our chaplains was asked to speak for 2-3 minutes. Here is the full transcript of her speech.

Prayer during rally for Gaza in Federal Plaza, Chicago
I greet you today with deep pain and sorrow about the ongoing slaughter of life taking place in Gaza. It is horrendous. It is unbelievable that Israel would go down this path again with the whole world watching and blogging. And it is outrageous that our government continues to support this violent and disproportionate escalation of violence in the name of self -defense. I would like to share with you the voice and perspective of some members of the Christian community to which I belong. The first comes from a statement by Palestinian Christian and church leaders on the situation in Gaza that I received this morning. The second comes from a letter to congress from Christian religious leaders here in the U.S. and the last is a prayer from The Sabeel Center, a Palestinian Christian organization in East Jerusalem.

“In the spirit that infuses this land with sanctity and holiness and in keeping with our faith and its teachings, we appeal to all peace loving people across the world to work with their governments and fellow citizens to stop the destruction and the carnage that is going on in Gaza. The current distressing situation in the Gaza Strip is the result of the impasse in the political process and the absence of peace. We strongly believe that the cause of all this is the continuing Israeli occupation and the blockade and restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities on the Gaza Strip and its 1.6 million population. The Israeli policy of targeted killings, which started the current episode of fighting, is morally wrong. It also provokes strong emotions that fuel determination for revenge and furthering the endless cycle of confrontation. The scenes of innocent Palestinian children killed by bombings of family homes that are spread on the internet further promote uncontrollable emotions that are directed not simply against those responsible in Israel but also against Western and other powers and governments that support Israel in its actions in the Gaza Strip. This further increases the polarization across religious and national lines and promises spiraling violence that is the loss for each and every one of us all created in God’s image.

Some of the est. 1,000 people who marched in Chicago
in support of the people of Gaza on November 19.
Earlier this fall, in October, 15 Christian religious leaders representing U.S. churches and religious organizations signed a letter asking members of congress for an end to unconditional U.S. military aid to Israel until it complies with American law. Specifically they demand investigations into the possible violations by Israel of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act which prohibits assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of human rights violations or limits the use of U.S. weapons to “internal Security” or legitimate self-defense.”

Toward this end, they urge congress to hold hearings to examine Israel’s compliance and regular reporting on compliance and the withholding of military aid for non-compliance. Many of these leaders, including my own, are representing their members resolutions passed at general assemblies to make military aid conditional on upholding human rights and international law. Their prophetic call has led to vicious attacks and the ending of some interfaith partnerships. However they are standing boldly in insisting that it is their moral responsibility to question the continuation of unconditional U.S. financial assistance to the government of Israel. They recognize that a lasting peace will require this accountability and that to continue will only “serve to sustain the status quo and Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories.”

Let me end my inviting you to join me in prayer or meditation on this prayer from the Sabeel Center followed by a short blessing from me.

“Sovereign God of justice and peace, our hearts are broken once again by this week’s escalation of violence in Gaza. Please bring about a just peace between the two sides. Lord, we mourn everyone killed in the attacks, especially lamenting the loss of the children. We cry out that the lives of these people, are not dispensable, but are valuable beyond measure. We beg you, God, to calm the senseless storm of violence, and move politicians to make real and diligent progress toward peace.”

God of freedom and justice, empower us today to stay focused on the end goal----a just peace for all of your people based on equality and freedom. Help us to stay the course, in the streets, on-line, even with our political leaders. Help us bear the burden of hope with our Palestinian sisters and brothers to share with them with what Mahmoud Darwish called “this incurable malady of hope, hope in liberation and independence.”

Actions You Can Take Now

Call for Ceasefire in Israel and Gaza

Sign the letter to Obama supporting conditional military aid to Israel at www.Obamaletter.org

Boycott Soda Stream

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Top and center photo: FJJ.

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