Open Letter to Unitarian Universalist Colleagues on the War and Occupation in Palestine

(This letter was originally published on November 9, 2023)

Beloved colleagues, 

In these difficult times, we offer care and comfort to those experiencing great loss, fear, and heartbreak. As we bear witness to the escalating violence that has destroyed Palestinian and Jewish lives in Palestine, Israel, and around the world, we also acknowledge the complexity of showing up faithfully to minister to our community and be a voice for love and justice in our larger world. 

As Unitarian Universalists, we affirm that all people have the right to flourish with inherent dignity and worth. Over the past month, we have witnessed devastating violence and cruelty that have precipitated genocide. Beloveds, we must not turn away. We, Unitarian Universalist ministers, seminarians, lay leaders, religious professionals, and educators, join the chorus of people of faith, activists, and leaders demanding an immediate ceasefire, humanitarian aid into Gaza, an end to US military support to Israel, and an immediate release of the nearly 10,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel and the 240 Israeli hostages taken on October 7. 

We condemn the catastrophic violence that indiscriminately kills civilians. We witness with heavy hearts the profound impact of wars, neo-colonialism, systemic oppression, and capitalist greed around the world. We recognize war disproportionately affects Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and is often rooted in ideologies of supremacy backed by state power.

This letter is an invitation. We need our Unitarian Universalist leadership to be bold and prophetic, speaking out explicitly about the widespread violence of occupation. While there are individuals who are taking action, and we acknowledge that the UUA has called for an immediate ceasefire, there has been ongoing silencing of dialogue amongst Unitarian Universalist religious professionals. We can and must show up in solidarity with our Palestinian and Jewish siblings. 

We lament the dehumanization of Palestinian and Arab people around the world. We call out the silencing and harassment of our Unitarian Universalist Muslim and Arab colleagues. We join with our Jewish siblings who have declared that their grief will not be weaponized to justify genocide. Safety is a collective project. None of us are free until all of us are free!  To that end: 

We commit to deepen our understanding of how our faith’s generalist theological framework of “Jewish and Christian teachings” often fails to grapple with our origins of Christian supremacy and Christian Zionism. We need our religious leadership to study and act, embracing a theological praxis that supports our congregations and Unitarian Universalists broadly, in a journey that understands dismantling white supremacy includes speaking up against the ongoing assaults on Palestinian humanity and self-determination. 

We offer gratitude to Unitarian Universalists acting in solidarity with Palestine - from direct action in the streets and targeting elected officials to statements of support. We recognize the varied risks UUs face based on race, gender, immigration status, faith tradition, positional power, and role. We see how students, reporters, organizers, faith leaders, and elected officials who speak out are targeted. We will not turn away from those who condemn genocide.

We call upon Unitarian Universalists and in particular, our Unitarian Universalist Association, Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, LREDA, the Association for UU Music Ministries, and other fellow religious professionals to take bold and immediate action to stop the genocide in Gaza. This includes calling for an immediate ceasefire without conditions, support for humanitarian aid, an end to US military support for the State of Israel, and immediate release of the nearly 10,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel and the 240 Israeli hostages taken on October 7. It also means broadly committing to an end to the occupation, joining the fight for a free Palestine, and engaging in hard and necessary conversations about the impacts of Zionism.

We call upon Unitarian Universalists to take action in solidarity with Palestinian, Southwest Asian and North African (SWANA), and Arab-American communities who are experiencing escalating harassment and violence. This includes verbal harassment, physical violence and murder, as well as increased surveillance by the state. The lives and safety of our beloveds around the world matter.

We call upon Unitarian Universalists to be persistent in combating anti-semitic violence and oppression. This must include condemning the targeting and harassment of anti-Zionist Jewish community members. We are clear that anti-Zionism is not anti-semitism. We follow the leadership of anti-Zionist Jewish leaders who are united in the call that “never again means never again for anyone”. 

History is repeating itself and our moral action is one critical action we can take to interrupt the cycle of violence. We must make a choice– support an apartheid government or support the struggle for liberation. Palestine will be free! Let us act now!

In faithful solidarity,

(add your name to those listed below)

Diverse & Revolutionary Unitarian Universalist Multicultural Ministries
Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East (UUJME)
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Adam Slate, UU ministerial candidate
Aimee Santos
Alex Thompson
Alison Gottlieb
Amanda Nerone, CRE
Amber Brown
Amy Abugo Ongiri
Ana Lim
Andrea Doremus
Andrea Townsend
Annonymous Signer
Antoinette Scully
April Schmidt
Barb Stuebing
Barb Stuebing coordinator. UUJME for UUCS
Barbara Stahnke
Ben Strube
BFUU Social Justice Committee co-chair, Phoebe Thomas Sorgen
Bill Maxwell - Social Action Com.
Brenna Clanton
Camille Santana
Carla Mannix
Carol Kraemer
Caroline Lee
Catherine Jackson
catherine strickland
Cathy Chapman-Hackett
Cir L'Bert, Jr.
Claire Galkowski
Claire Karl Miller
Daniel Blades
Daniel Lean
Darlene Catello
Dell Waterhouse
Dr. Erin Flynn
Dr. Fouad Jaber
Dr. Jessica Barr
Dr. Laurel Eckstrand
Dr. Leon E. Spencer
Dr. Nathan Eckstrand
Dr. Rashid Shaikh
Dr. Richard Wyatt
Echo Berson
Elizabeth Valencia
Edward Prestemon
Erol King Delos Santos
Gene Ramsbottom
Ginnette Powell
Hannah Hafter
Heather Vckery
Heather Vickery
Helen Kunkel Dwyer
Irene Anne Eckstrand
Jane Collins
Janet Hitti
Janet McFarland
Janna (Radovsky) Frelich, MT-BC, LMHC
Jay Atkinson
Jewels Mellen, Social Justice Leader
Jim Catano
Joanie Parker
JoAnn Weiss
John Herndon
Jolly Hollamon
Joy Messinger
Julica Hermann de la Fuente
Kaitlin Walker
Karen Dattilo, Secretary
Karen Steele
Kari Reynolds
Kat Adams
Kathy Crain
Kelsey Powell
Ken Montenegro
Kiersten Moore
Kim Adams
Larry A. Cooper
Laticia Hicks
Laura Alarcón
Laura Barnes
Laura Evonne Steinman
Lecretia Williams, Seminarian
Leigh Ann Luscan
Leilani Davenberry
Leslie Runnels
Lisa Gonzales-Burris
Lisa Hoyte Social Justice Leadership Team
Louise Warner
Majida Thalji
Margarita Gonzalez
Marianna Cardozo
Mark Jagner
Mark Mohundro
mark sanderson
Marti Yoder
Mary Katherine Morn
Matéo Kresha
Meghan Garvey, Seminarian
Menaca Padakandla
Michael DeSantis
Mr Jan Galkowski
Mrs. Ginny Chudgar
Ms. Kimberlee Cordero
Ms. Nancy Rafert
Ms. Nancy Roberts
Nicole Thibadeaux
Olivia Hall
Omowole Jesse Alexander
Pam Fodor
Pamela McInnes
Pat Uribe-Lichty
Peter Rawitsch
Randall Sanderson
Rev Dr Terasa Cooley
Rev Justin Almeida, MDiv
Rev Lucy Bunch
Rev Tania Márquez
Rev Tara Humphries
Rev. Abhi Janamanchi
Rev. Alexandre da Silva Souto
Rev. Alice J. Davenport
Rev. Allison Farnum
Rev. Beth Dana
Rev. Beth Monhollen
Rev. Charles B. Ortman
Rev. Chris Bothbauer
Rev. Chris Rothbauer
Rev. Dan Miyake
Rev. Darcy Baxter
Rev. Deanna Vandiver
Rev. Denis Paul
Rev. Dottie Matthews
Rev. Dr. Audette Fulbright Fulson
Rev. Dr. Maria Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa
Rev. Dr. Myke Johnson
Rev. Dr. Tom Owen-Towle
Rev. Edith A. Love
Rev. Eileen Wiviott
Rev. Elaine G. Gehrmann
Rev. Elaine G. Gerhrmann
Rev. Elizabeth Carrier-Ladd
Rev. Elizabeth Harding
Rev. Elizabeth M. Ide
Rev. Emily DeTar Birt
Rev. Eric Kaminetzky
Rev. Greta Jo Seidohl
Rev. Heather Concannon
Rev. J P Rodela
Rev. Jamie Elaine Boyce
Rev. Jason Lydon
Rev. Jeannette Bessinger
Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons
Rev. Julio Torres
Rev. Justin Almeida, MDiv
Rev. Justine Magara, minister (UUCK).
Rev. Kathleen Owens
Rev. Kathryn A. Bert
Rev. Katie Romano Griffin
Rev. Kierstin Homblette Allen
Rev. Laura Randall
Rev. Lindasusan Ulrich
Rev. Lisa Garcia-Sampson
Rev. Melanie Morel-Ensminger
Rev. Meredith Barber
Rev. Meredith U. Anderson
Rev. Petra Thombs
Rev. Ralph Galen
Rev. Sara Tolfree
Rev. Sarah Caine
Rev. Scott Aaseng
Rev. Tania Márquez
Rev. Tara Humphries
Rev. Viola Abbitt
Rev. Dottie Mathews
Reverend Edith A. Love
Rita Mobarak
Ronnie Boyd
Rose Couet-Pascoe
Sara Blackthorne
Sarah Barlow
Shana Parvin Begum
Sharon deVos
Shawn Gibson
Shernaz Garcia
Siegrid Tuttle
Stephen Bartram
Steven Sellers Lapham
Sue Oshiro-Zeier
Sue Oshiro-Zeir
Susan Nye
Susan Nye, UUJME Treasurer
Susan Robinson, Unitarian Universalist member
Tamiko Suzuki
Theo Harper
UU member Francesca Ciancutti
Zainab Amadahy
Zoë Johnston

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