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FAITH LEADERS DISRUPT U.S. VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE DURING CUFI SUMMIT

FAITH LEADERS  DISRUPT U.S. VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE DURING CUFI SUMMIT

July 9, 2019. For immediate release. Contact media@fosna.org for press inquiries. 

 

 

Washington D.C. — On July 8, 2018, over 100 faith leaders and community organizers protested Christians United for Israel (CUFI) during its annual summit, held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. The group led direct actions, including sit-ins outside the center while 21 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faith leaders staged disruptions of the opening plenary session featuring CUFI founder John Hagee, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. 

FOSNA executive director Tarek Abuata was the first to stand up and disrupt, shouting, “Zionism is racism,” and holding up a banner that read, “Israel is an apartheid state.” Security immediately handcuffed Abuata and carried him out of the convention center. Abuata continued to shout, “People of God, wake up! Protect the Palestinian people.”

 

During Vice President Mike Pence’s remarks, Christian and Jewish faith leaders interrupted the U.S. vice president, shouting, “Israel kills children. Jews and Christians say no to Zionism,” and holding a banner that read, “Israel kills civilians.” Security grabbed them and dragged them out of the center. 

 

Rochelle Watson, FOSNA national organizer who disrupted Pence, shared, In this political moment, education around these issues is not enough. We have reached a point where remaining faithful requires us to take bold action by speaking truth to power.” 

 

Protestors staged two more disruptions during Hagee’s remarks, shouting, “Israel imprisons children. Our God liberates.” Others rose up and shouted, “Israel demolishes homes. Our God shelters. Zionism is racism.” Security removed them as well.  

 

Jonathan Brenneman, a Palestinian-American Christian working with the Mennonite Church USA shared, “I’m here in sacred witness for Mohammed, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy, whose leg was amputated after he was shot by Israeli soldiers.” Brenneman decided to disrupt the summit in order “to hold sacred witness for all the Palestinains whose homes have been demolished.” 

 

Another protestor with Queers Against Israeli Apartheid in New York shared, “I’m here today because I have been struggling against the messaging that ‘all Jews support Israel.’ First, my voice was stolen by right-wing Jewish religious leadership, and now that we’re finally organizing against it, CUFI is taking over that role over, and we just need to resist in a much more holistic way and against the forces of empire that are using religion to do this work.” 

 

The same morning, over 100 Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faith leaders led by members of Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), marched from a nearby church to the CUFI summit singing  hymns and holding posters that read, “Reclaim Our Theology,” “Thou Shall Not Kill,” and “Christian Zionism is Racism.” 

 

They attempted to enter the convention center but building security blocked them from entry. As Reverend Allison Tanner shared, “Our faiths demand that we bear sacred witness here today to the injustices promoted by CUFI.” 

 

The group proceeded to stage a sit-in and block the doors of the center. They continued with chants and singing throughout the first half of the day. The day of action concluded at 3 pm at a nearby traffic intersection, where the group blocked traffic by forming a circle and reading the names and stories of Palestinian children harmed by Israeli occupation through imprisonment.

 

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The press release ahead of the action can be found here and more background for the action can be found on FOSNA’s webpage. More coverage of the action is on FOSNA’s Facebook and Twitter. A video summary of the internal disruptions can be found here.

 

 

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