Disciples and UCC heads of communion join US counterparts urging Pres. Biden to raise concerns about harassment of Christians in meeting with PM Netanyahu
Ahead of his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which took place last week when both were present at the United Nations General Assembly, 21 heads of US churches and agencies wrote to President Biden bringing to his attention urgent concerns about the treatment of Palestinian Christians. Among the signatories were the Rev. Teresa Hord Owens, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and the Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ.
The letter, delivered to the White House on Sept. 13, expressed the signatories’ “deep concern for the well-being of our fellow Christians in the Holy Land, and … support of the Heads of Churches of Jerusalem who have spoken publicly on the challenges facing their communities” over the treatment of the indigenous Christian community. It is an issue that Heads of Churches in Jerusalem have raised publicly in the past and that has gained increasing attention recently.
The letter included three specific requests:
- We urgently request that you use the influence of your good office to call for swift and decisive action by Israel to hold perpetrators of [targeted attacks against the indigenous Christian population, especially Christian clergy, but also against churches, cemeteries, and other sacred sites] accountable for their crimes so that this troubling reality might end.
- We recognize that the hearing on [the proposed inclusion of the Mount of Olives in an Israeli national park] has been postponed until the end of the year and call for your intervention to halt any plan that would take control of this sacred Christian site away from its current residents.
- We respectfully urge you to raise these pressing issues during your anticipated meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding the rights, safety, and dignity of all Christians in the Holy Land.
The full letter is available here:
A similar letter was sent concurrently from a number of US Christian leaders representing a variety of communities, churches, and organizations. These combined expressions of urgency are a reflection of the urgent need for a united coalition of American and Palestinian Christians to address rapidly increasing insecurity faced by Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land is evident. The letters appeal to Biden’s Christian faith and urges American Christians to stand in solidarity with Palestinian Christians.