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AME Bishops Demand US Defund Israel Over ‘Mass Genocide’ of Palestinians

In a move that adds fuel to the already simmering debate on U.S.-Israeli relations, the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church’s Council of Bishops issued a strong statement calling for an immediate halt to all financial aid provided by the United States to Israel. This comes just a month after President Biden’s visit to Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where anti-war protesters disrupted his remarks.

Published February 14 by The AME publication The Christian Recorder, the statement criticized Israel for allegedly trapping more than a million “desperate Palestinians” in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

“Most of them are women and children,” the Council added. “They have denied them access to food, water, shelter, and health care. After this torture, they plan to murder them. The United States of America will have likely paid for the weapons they use. This must not be allowed to happen.”

On October 7, 2023, Hamas murdered more than 1,100 people in Israel, most of them civilians, and abducted 253 others. In retaliation, Israeli Defense Forces have since killed more than 27,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

The most recent target of attack for Israeli troops is in Rafah. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “has insisted his troops will advance on the Gazan city…, defying outside pleas to reconsider,” according to the BBC.

In addition to calling for the U.S. to “immediately withdraw all funding and other support from Israel,” the AME statement demanded “an immediate and permanent ceasefire.”

“Surely there is a grassroots solution that affirms the dignity and humanity of all God’s people in Palestine and Israel,” the statement continued. “The tools of empire, colonialism, and domination will not solve the problems they created. The cycle of violence between historically wounded peoples will not be dissolved by the creation of more wounds or through weapons of war. We remain in solidarity with Jesus Christ of Nazareth, a Palestinian Jew, and the Prince of Peace.”

Titled “Council of Bishops Calls for Immediate Withdrawal of Financial Support from Israel,” the document concluded with the bishops vowing to “travail in prayer and pursue justice until freedom reigns for all.”

The statement was signed by Bishop Adam J. Richardson, Senior Bishop; Bishop Stafford J. N. Wicker, President, Council of Bishops; Bishop E. Anne Henning Byfield, Chair of Social Action; and Bishop Francine A. Brookins, Co-Chair of Social Action.

The AME Church is the nation’s oldest Black Protestant denomination, with more than 2.5 million members globally.

The Council of Bishops’s demand for a ceasefire aligns with growing criticism toward Israel’s response to the deadly October 7 attacks. An Associated Press poll found a decline in support for Israel’s actions, including among Republicans and independent voters.

However, the call for defunding the Israel war is likely to be met with strong opposition from pro-Israel groups and some lawmakers who view it as detrimental to Israel’s security and a betrayal of a key ally. They argue that such aid strengthens Israel’s ability to defend itself against regional threats and fosters cooperation on security matters.

During his visit to Mother Emanuel, where nine Black parishioners were murdered in a racially motivated shooting in 2015, President Biden made political remarks and condemned white supremacy. However, he was disrupted by protesters calling for a ceasefire, which led to debate about Biden’s presence at the “sacred space.”

Several Christian groups, including Palestinian Christian leaders, have spoken out in condemnation of the war, which has seen Christians killed by Israeli troops.

More recently, several Black Christian leaders took out an ad in The New York Times calling on Biden to demand a bilateral ceasefire.


Read the “Council of Bishops Calls for Immediate Withdrawal of Financial Support from Israel” in full here or below:

Today as we celebrate the birth of Richard Allen, the apostle of freedom, Israel has trapped 1.6 million desperate Palestinians in the southern Gaza city called Rafah. Most of them are women and children. They have denied them access to food, water, shelter, and health care. After this torture, they plan to murder them. The United States of America will have likely paid for the weapons they use. This must not be allowed to happen.

The Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church calls on the United States Government to immediately withdraw all funding and other support from Israel. Since 1954, Israel has shown a willful disregard for the human dignity of Palestinians. Since October 7, 2023, in retaliation for the brutal murder of 1139 Israeli citizens by Hamas, Israel has murdered over 28,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children. The United States is supporting this mass genocide. This must not be allowed to continue.

There must be an immediate and permanent ceasefire between these two communities. We call for a solution to be negotiated by genuine representatives of the people of Israel and Palestine and condemn all violence as a means of resolving this conflict. Surely there is a grassroots solution that affirms the dignity and humanity of all God’s people in Palestine and Israel. The tools of empire, colonialism, and domination will not solve the problems they created. The cycle of violence between historically wounded peoples will not be dissolved by the creation of more wounds or through weapons of war. We remain in solidarity with Jesus Christ of Nazareth, a Palestinian Jew, and the Prince of Peace.

We weep for the suffering being inflicted upon the children of God in the Holy Land and all the earth. We cry for freedom and implore those who say they love God to demonstrate a tangible love for their neighbors. We will travail in prayer and pursue justice until freedom reigns for all.

Bishop Adam J. Richardson, Senior Bishop
Bishop Stafford J. N. Wicker, President, Council of Bishops
Bishop E. Anne Henning Byfield, Chair of Social Action
Bishop Francine A Brookins, Co-Chair of Social Action

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