Petition 60860

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Saying No to Violence in Middle East Conflict (60860-CA-R6113-G)

WHEREAS, “Justice” in the Bible is restorative as God seeks to bring about healing in relationships, transform alienation into community, restore offenders into God’s family, and bless all the peoples of the earth and Jesus offers restorative responses to wrongdoing in the New Testament; and

WHEREAS, The United Methodist Church advocates for peace and justice in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and recognizes that a significant portion of both the Israeli and Palestinians populations have experienced life-threatening traumatic events including years of suffering under occupation and years of war and terrorism so that at different times Israelis and Palestinians have both been victims and aggressors and both populations are impacted by high levels of trauma and stress due to the unresolved political situation (for further trauma information see articles cited below); and

WHEREAS, unhealed trauma profoundly impacts individuals, communities, and nations often perpetuating and prolonging the very conflict which caused the trauma in the first place and making resolution seem impossible by preventing the trust which must be built for negotiations for a lasting, just and peaceful solution to be successful; and

WHEREAS, restorative justice works to recognize damages, re-build trust, honor dignity, and integrate all people who have been harmed through conflict, and since restorative justice is a peace-building, conflict transformation approach that can be of great assistance in trust building between parties who have been in prolonged conflict, restorative justice dialogue is especially appropriate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict where both parties see themselves as the victim and the other as the aggressor/offender; and

WHEREAS, restorative justice dialogue invites parties to meet in a safe and structured setting so that the dialogue includes both victims and aggressors/offenders and a mediator/coach in order to name what happened, identify impact, and create some common understanding, often including reaching agreement as to how any resultant harm will be repaired. For example, Dr. Howard Zehr, professor of restorative justice at the Center for Justice and Peace Building, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, describes a role play in the United Kingdom by high school students and their principal. In the first role play, a fight between two girls is handled traditionally with the principal behind his desk interrogating the girls and rendering judgment. In the second example, a restorative justice circle process included the principal and girls dialoguing with the help of a facilitator. Each party told their story including feelings of harm and wrongdoing helping each party acknowledge their responsibility in the conflict. A solution emerged acknowledging mutual harm as well as shared responsibility and the disputants became friends (ttp://www.wiscomp.org/pp-v1/Howard_Zehr_Paper.pdf). Restorative justice does not shame or punish and seeks healing by acknowledging all injustices and searching for appropriate gestures of regret and reconciliation; and

WHEREAS, restorative justice offers hope and creative possibilities for some steps toward reconciliation in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict while still recognizing that both sides are suffering and that both sides are traumatized and blame each other. Through the sharing of personal and national narratives, mutual articulation of needs and mutual acceptance of responsibility, restorative justice processes can ultimately create empathy for the “other” and opportunities for trust building, conflict resolution, and trauma recovery. Knowing this, the Church is obliged to practice restorative justice in its own ranks and to call our own society and all nations to move in the same direction.

<http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/195/5/427.long> - “Analysis of trauma exposure, symptomatology and functioning in Jewish Israeli and Palestinian adolescents,” Br J Psychiatry. 2009 Nov,

<http://www.healingresources.info/article_ross1.htm> - The Trauma Vortex in Action Again in the Middle East”

<http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/alan-johnson/hamas-rockets-traumatize-israeli-children> -

“Hamas Rockets Traumatize Israeli Children,” July 25, 2014,

<http://www.irinnews.org/report/92527/israel-opt-israeli-communities-traumatized-by-gaza-rockets> -

“ISRAEL-OPT: Israeli communities traumatized by Gaza rockets,” April 20, 2011,

<http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/8/1/health-gaza-children.html> -

“Gaza’s kids affected psychologically, physically by lifetime of violence,” July 31, 2014

Therefore, be it resolved, that the 2016 General Conference calls on the General Board of Church & Society, in cooperation with JustPeace to:

1. Affirm strategies which will engage both Israelis and Palestinians in an effort to learn more about their historic and current lived experiences and to gain an understanding of their fears, aspirations, and hopes; and

2. Commit to lifting up voices within both Palestinian and Israeli communities, especially those of victims of violence and injustice, in order to seek peace with justice through restorative responses to conflicts; and

3. Actively seek ways to restore right relationship and promote reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians through restorative justice dialogue and projects involving mutual cooperation; and

4. Encourage all United Methodists to actively pursue restorative justice mechanisms for peace and justice between Palestinians and Israelis; and

5. Commit to support U.S. and international efforts at serious and effective diplomacy to promote restorative justice and cooperation between all parties to the conflict leading to the creation of a sustainable solution which ends the occupation and establishes a viable Palestinian state at peace with Israel.

Rationale

Restorative justice must be part of any lasting, just and peaceful solution between Israelis and Palestinians because of the deep lack of trust caused by years of occupation and violence making resolution of their conflict so difficult. This resolution asks the Church to practice this discipline.

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