On a final, more encouraging, note on recent Churchwide staff activity related to Israel/Palestine, the Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, Elizabeth Eaton, recently issued a letter to President Obama urging the U.S. not to stand in the way of admitting the State of Palestine as a full member of the United Nations.  The press release and the text of the letter can be read here.

While U.N. membership would be a significant step forward toward achieving the goals set out in C1:

“To urge this church’s members, congregations, synods, agencies and presiding bishop to call on their U.S. Representatives, Senators and the Administration to take action requiring that, to continue receiving U.S. financial and military aid, Israel must comply with internationally recognized human rights standards as specified in existing U.S. law, stop settlement building and the expansion of existing settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, end its occupation of Palestinian territory, and enable an independent Palestinian state.”

…the basic aim of C1, to make aid to Israel dependent on the cessation of settlement activity, has thus far gone unaddressed by the Presiding Bishop and as far as I know, other Church bodies.  Since U.S. already adopted a new 10-year memorandum of understanding with the State of Israel on September 14 (actually increasing military aid to $38 billion), the opportunity to make the views of the ELCA known on this particular issue during negotiations seems to have been squandered.

While encouraging President Obama to not stand in the way of Palestine’s admission to the UN is a development that should certainly be applauded, it should also be noted that C-1 also calls for the recognition of the State of Palestine—a step which would go beyond admission to the UN.

–Dale Loepp