C025 Recognition of Apartheid in Israel/Palestine
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring,
That the 80th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, acknowledging our continuing struggle in the United States to achieve racial equality, recognize that the State of Israel has passed laws that discriminate against its non-Jewish citizens, particularly Palestinians, and that its military occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank and blockade of Gaza impose prejudicial treatment of Palestinians and privilege Israeli settlers, contravening international law and human rights; and be it further
Resolved, that the General Convention recognize that these discriminatory laws and treatment correspond to the definitions of apartheid elaborated in the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and set out in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; and be it further
Resolved, that the General Convention affirm that apartheid is antithetical to the Gospel message and to our Baptismal Covenant to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being;” and be it further
Resolved, that the General Convention of The Episcopal Church call on the U.S. government to withhold military funding from the State of Israel until Israel eliminates apartheid laws, respects Palestinian human rights, and stops violating international law.
The enjoinder in the Hebrew Scriptures, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Lev.19:18), is repeated by Jesus in the Gospels (Mt.19:19, 22:39; Mk. 12:31; Lk. 10:27) and reinforced in the Epistles (Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14; Jas. 2:8). As Christians mindful of our Judaic heritage, we must be guided by this commandment as we confront systemic discrimination against any group of people.
The crime of apartheid is codified in international law. Article II of the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid summarizes apartheid as “an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.” (https://treaties.un.org/doc/publication/unts/volume%201015/volume-1015-i-14861-english.pdf, or in Spanish at https://www.acnur.org/fileadmin/Documentos/BDL/2002/1426.pdf)
This definition is essentially repeated in the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Article 7 Crimes against Humanity, paragraph 2(h). See full text of Rome Statute in English at https://www.icc-cpi.int/sites/default/files/RS-Eng.pdf, or in Spanish at https://www.icc-cpi.int/sites/default/files/RS-Esp.pdf)
The United Nations Partition Plan of 1947 divided Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state, but by the time the armistice was decreed in 1949, the State of Israel had assumed possession of 78% of the original Mandate Palestine. Some 750,000 Palestinians had fled or been driven from their land, many carrying keys to the homes to which they expected to return.
Palestinians who remained within the boundaries of the new state were eventually allowed to become citizens. Almost immediately, however, the Knesset, the new Israeli legislative body, began to pass a series of laws that ensured a continuing Jewish majority and legalized discrimination against non-Jewish citizens, particularly Palestinians. Most recently in 2018, the Israeli Knesset passed the Nation State Law, which states that “the right to exercise national self-determination” in Israel is “unique to the Jewish people”, establishes Hebrew as Israel’s only official language, and establishes “Jewish settlement as a national value” which the state “will labor to encourage and promote.” (See English at https://main.knesset.gov.il/EN/activity/Documents/BasicLawsPDF/BasicLawNationState.pdf or Spanish at
https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ley_del_estado-nación) Because Israel has no constitution, this so-called Basic Law has the status of a constitutional provision.
The system of control that Israel operates in the occupied West Bank has characteristic apartheid attributes. On March 10, 2014, The Jerusalem Post quoted Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu as he compared the conditions of Palestinians with those of South Africans under apartheid: “I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces… Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.”
The Episcopal Church has a history of opposing apartheid. The 68th General Convention adopted a resolution calling for an unambiguous, coherent policy in opposition to apartheid in the Republic of South Africa (D029 – 1985).
In view of the overwhelming, irrefutable evidence that Israel’s continuing subjugation of the Palestinian people is, without any doubt, apartheid as defined by International Law, the Episcopal church must adhere to its baptismal vows and condemn the apartheid policies of Israel and call on the US government to withhold all aid from Israel until the Palestinians are treated as equal citizens with full access to movement, water, electricity, education, housing and health.
Additional studies and resources:
“Occupation, colonialism, apartheid?: a re-assessment of Israel's practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law,” commissioned in 2009 by the government of South Africa. The full report in English is at http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/43295/1/Occupation_Colonialism_Apartheid-FullStudy_copy.pdfand the executive summary in Spanish at https://rebelion.org/docs/87055.pdf)
“A Threshold Crossed: Israel Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” a report issued by Human Rights Watch in 2021. See articles in English and Spanish, both of which have links to the full 213 page report:
In July 2021, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ overwhelmingly condemned Israeli Apartheid, becoming the first mainline denomination to use the term. The declaration in English is at https://www.ucc.org/synod-delegates-approve-resolution-decrying-oppression-of-palestinian-people/ or in Spanish at https://irp.cdn-website.com/1c33daec/files/uploaded/Resoluci%C3%B3n-en-Espa%C3%B1ol%20%281%29%20with%20amendments%20as%20passed.pdf