The Morning Call has declined to print my reply to Vincent Stravino's letter about Israel. I was invited to address their concerns, and resubmit the piece. In my opinion Stravino uses what I consider propaganda techniques in his letters. He takes the Methodist resolution and attempts to give it divine authority by mentioning Bishop Tutu and the Presbyterian Church. Although I would have preferred the much larger Morning Call audience to read my reply, I present both Stravino's published letter and my rejected reply.
The United Methodist Church, the largest mainline Protestant church in America, has recently considered the ongoing Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian Land.
The Methodist General Conference approved a resolution urging the U.S. government to end all military aid to the region, called on all nations to prohibit any financial support for the construction and maintenance of settlements and called on all nations to prohibit the import of products made by companies in Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. The Church did not endorse divestment of their pension funds from three American military contractors who sell offensive weapons to Israel as part of $3 billion of U.S. aid yearly.
The Methodist vote followed intense lobbying from rabbis on both sides of the issue. In a letter of support, Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa characterized Israeli treatment of Palestinians as apartheid.
The Presbyterian Church in the United States will vote soon on these same issues. The United Methodist Church has bravely moved from sympathetic words to tangible action against injustice. Let's all stop our taxpayer dollars from being used to fund settlements and violence against innocent Palestinians. Today America needs the money far more than Israel. Tell Congress.
Vincent Stravino and I have been dueling about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for over a year here on the Letters To The Editor page. We also have conducted a private correspondence. Although Stravino is currently in Israel and the West Bank with the Inter-Faith Peace Builders, on Tuesday his letter was published citing positions by the Methodist Church against Israel. I suspect that Stravino is not a Methodist, and know that he is not authorized to be their spokesman. I have received an email from Stravino and his group from Israel; In it they note the "Nakba (Catastrophe) and the birth of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." The "catastrophe" refers to the creation of Israel in 1948. Any person who questions the legitimacy of Israel, whether a Palestinian in the West Bank, or a peace activist from the Lehigh Valley, is hardly an honest broker for a just solution.