A delegation of leaders from historic African American churches returning from Israel and the Occupied Territories says conditions for Palestinians in the West Bank painfully echo the injustices suffered by people of colour …
A delegation of leaders from historic African American churches returning from Israel and the Occupied Territories says conditions for Palestinians in the West Bank painfully echo the injustices suffered by people of colour during South Africa.s apartheid era and during the pre-civil rights era in America.
Black church leaders in the delegation, hosted by global humanitarian agency Church World Service, now are promising to work with their communions and congregations, the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faith communities, politicians, and Palestinians in diaspora to focus attention on the deteriorating situation.
On a visit to the Israeli-built barrier now separating Palestinian residents in the West Bank from residents in Israel-controlled Jerusalem, African Methodist Episcopal Church Bishop E. Earl McCloud, Jr., said, "I'm surprised by the blatant attempt of Israelis to separate themselves. I've also been on the backside of fear of Black people,. he said, .and it makes me sad to see this wall and to hear so many say this wall has been built with money I have sent to the U.S. government in tax dollars."
Supporters call the approximately 26 foot high wall portion of the barrier which in many places runs through the home sites and farms of Palestinians a "separation barrier." Palestinians alternately refer to it as the .apartheid wall. or the .segregation wall..
The controversial 400-mile-plus West Bank barrier is being constructed by Israel using a network of 90% fences, with vehicle-barrier trenches averaging 65 yards wide, and 10% of concrete wall up to 26 feet high.
Supporters say the barrier is necessary to protect Israeli civilians from Palestinian suicide bombing in public places. Opponents say the barrier violates international law, is an illegal effort to annex Palestinian land, and severely restricts the normal life movements of Palestinians who live in the area.
This delegation, led by Church World Service Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer the Rev. John L. McCullough, is the first time that the historic Black churches have been invited by Christian leaders in Israel to come as a group to witness people living severed in the heart of a divided land.
Delegates reported their findings in Orlando at the combined General Assembly of Church World Service and the National Council of Churches an annual meeting of leaders from 35 mainline Christian denominations.
"I found myself tearful at times as I looked at the consequences of that wall,. said delegate Rev. Dr. Charles Mock of the National Baptist Convention USA. .I come back with mixed emotions because I also see complacency and a lack of commitment to struggle in defense of the have-nots at home."
The twelve-person delegation met with heads of the region.s oldest Orthodox and Latin Catholic churches and with Anglican, Lutheran, and Jewish faith leaders and government officials. The group also conferred with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry representative Shmuel ben Shmuel.