Recalling his recent trip to Jerusalem and the West Bank, UCC General Minister and President, the Rev. John H. Thomas, has penned reflections challenging the church to greater engagement in the issues surrounding Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
Thomas was accompanied by the Rev. Lydia Veliko, the UCC's Ecumenical Officer, and Peter Makari, Executive for the Middle East and Europe of Global Ministries, as they visited UCC partners and church leaders in the Middle East and Europe.
The reflections offer a view of Jerusalem "rarely seen by tourists and pilgrims" – that of military scrutiny, government-led displacement and resettlement, codified religious discrimination and racial profiling – which have become standardized in Israeli policy as security measures against potential terrorist threats.
Thomas is a respected ecumenical leader with extensive international experience. His pleas for all inhabitants of the troubled region to "transcend the exclusive claims to a place that lure them toward oppression, violence, and despair," are borne of his long-term involvement with those who offer diverse narratives and perspectives.
Concluding his statements, Thomas urges the church to be brave in challenging the Occupation which "[seeks] to claim the souls of all involved, and that demeans and dehumanizes even those it seeks to privilege."
Please see the following link: "Reflections on Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Occupation" for the full text and images from the trip.