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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

IRD Commends UCC's New found Middle East Balance


The Institute on Religion and Democracy

June 25, 2007 Contact: Loralei Coyle 202-682-4131

United Church of Christ Chooses Fairness

Toward Israelis and Palestinians

"The United Church of Christ is willing to admit that the situation in the Middle East is not readily reducible to good-guy Palestinians versus bad-guy Israelis--or vice versa."

-- James D. Berkley , IRD Director of Presbyterian Action

Washington, DC - The United Church of Christ (UCC) took a major step toward evenhanded treatment of Palestinian and Israeli interests at its General Synod meeting in Hartford, CT, on June 22. A General Synod resolution acknowledged that two previous resolutions from 2005 focused entirely on Israel, and that the General Synod "has yet to fully address other forces contributing to the ongoing violence, oppression and suffering in the region."

The statement indicated significant reconsideration of the 2005 resolutions: "The escalating violence between Fatah and Hamas now calls us to consider whether we may have overlooked many aspects of an extraordinarily complicated situation."

The rationale of this latest UCC resolution explained, "As a peacemaker, the Church in all of its settings must continue to speak out whenever violence, hatred, and oppression occur, standing in support of all who are oppressed and subjected to injustice." Therefore, the General Synod established "a Task Force to engage in ongoing and balanced study of the causes, history and context of the conflict."

James D. Berkley, IRD Director of Presbyterian Action, commented:

"I am impressed by the magnanimity of the United Church of Christ in this action. It has recognized the narrow partiality of its previous resolutions and is willing to admit that the situation in the Middle East is not readily reducible to good-guy Palestinians versus bad-guy Israelis--or vice versa.

"It is difficult to admit error and pursue a fairer and more faithful course of action, and yet the UCC General Synod rose to the occasion. The IRD commends the UCC for its action. Now this church body is no longer placed in the untenable role of strident champion of the unsupportable.

"In June 2006, the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly set an example by replacing a 2004 resolution that threatened anti-Israel divestment with a balanced resolution that seeks the welfare of both Palestinians and Israelis. Now such evenhandedness appears to be providentially contagious. First the United Church of Canada (later in 2006) and now the United Church of Christ have made similar turns toward fairness in their approach to the Middle East."


John Lomperis
Research Associate
The Institute on Religion and Democracy
1023 15th Street NW, Suite 601
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 682-4131
(202) 682-4136 (Fax)

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