Middle East Working Group- Goals and Principles

Our goals are to create a supportive context for those within the Congregation who want to act in the spirit of peace and justice in Israel and Palestine and to work in solidarity with others who want to promote peace, justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel inclusive of and respectful of the needs and histories of both the Palestinian and Jewish peoples.  This is a "working group," open to all adult members of the Congregation who want to work to promote peace, justice, reconciliation, and healing in Israel/Palestine predicated on a belief that both Palestinian and Jewish people have equal human rights and equal rights to self-determination, safety, and well being.  There are currently three major focus areas in the KBMEWG Working Group.

 First, the KBMEWG wants to create a supportive context for those within the Congregation who want to act in the spirit of connection, reconciliation, peace, and justice.  The KBMEWG believes this spirit is reflected in the courageous words and actions of Palestinian, Jewish, and other peace activists in Israel -- as well as in positions taken by other congregations.

 Second, KBMEWG wants to help gather and share materials that spread the stories of peace activism in Israel and Palestine.  KBMEWG believes this kind of education can help us to act more effectively, recognize our connection to others around the world, and help Congregation members learn more about Jewish and Palestinian peacemaking efforts.

 Third, the KBMEWG wants to work in solidarity with others who seek to promote peace, justice, reconciliation and healing  and who actively oppose the current us-them demonizing that characterizes slogans on both sides of this issue.


 

We believe in the following principles regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict:

The aspirations and claims of both the Jewish and Palestinian peoples to their common homeland are legitimate and reconcilable.

  1. The aspirations and claims of both the Jewish and Palestinian peoples to their common homeland are legitimate and reconcilable.
  2. Both the Palestinian and Jewish peoples have equal human rights and equal rights to self-determination, safety, and well-being.
  3. Both the Jewish and Palestinian peoples have a right to live in safe, secure, and self-sustaining societies.
  4. Reconciliation that enables peaceful coexistence and a political agreement to share the land must be based on mutual recognition and adherence to universal human rights, equality, and justice.
  5. Reconciliation can only be achieved through diplomacy and negotiation.
    1. Force and violence ultimately only serve to reduce the likelihood of achieving lasting peaceful coexistence.
    2. We oppose violence against civilians, whether advocated or carried out by Palestinians, Jews, the Palestinian leadership, terrorist organizations, or the Israeli government.
  6. Without justice for the Palestinian people there will no peace for Israel. Without peace for Israel there will be no justice for the Palestinians.
  7. As a practical matter, at this time in history, peace and security between Jews and Palestinians in the Middle East would be best served by the existence of two sovereign states.
    1. Israel must be recognized as a sovereign state by its Arab neighbors and the world community.
    2. A sovereign Palestinian state must be recognized by Israel and the world community.
  8. While we defer to any decisions negotiated by the Israelis and the Palestinians, as to general guidelines we believe:
    1. The most realistic and achievable boundaries for these states are the pre-1967 borders.
    2. Israel must cease construction of new settlements in the West Bank and Gaza and withdraw from settlements that currently exist.
    3. Israel must withdraw its military forces from the West Bank and Gaza under conditions where the safety of those affected is assured.
    4. Palestinians who fled or were displaced from their historic lands and homes, and their direct descendants, should either be fairly compensated by Israel and the international community or, if desired and possible, be allowed to return to their previously held property.
    5. Jerusalem, because of its unique significance to both peoples, should serve as the shared capital of both nations, with guarantees of free access to religious sites by all groups.
  9. American citizens, members of Congress, the Executive branch of our government, and members and leaders of the Jewish community should work to achieve a negotiated settlement, an end to the occupation, an end to all violence against civilians, and the creation of a viable Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in a secure peace for all peoples of the region.
  10. We support peacemakers worldwide in their work and encourage diversity of opinion by inviting alternative voices into the community of discourse.