Black church bishops call on US to halt aid to Israel amid ‘genocide’

The Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church has called on the United States “to immediately withdraw all funding and support from Israel,” calling Israel’s fight against Hamas in Gaza a “mass genocide.”

The statement, released Thursday, came shortly after Israel entered the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians fled after the start of the war. The bishops accused Israel of denying these Palestinians “access to food, water, shelter, and health care” and said that “after this torture, they plan to murder them.”

While several Christian organizations and leaders have called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas – including the National Council of the Churches in Christ – or offered aid to Christians and Muslims living in the Gaza Strip, this is the first such call for a cessation of all American assistance to the Jewish State.

The bishops, citing numbers provided by the Hamas-led Gaza Health Ministry, accused Israel of killing more than 28,000 Palestinians – primarily women and children – since the October 7 Hamas massacre, when terrorists entered Israel and slaughtered over 1,200 people and kidnapped 253 others.

Israel has waged a four-month campaign in Gaza, including attacks by air, land and sea, in retaliation for Hamas’s brutal attack. Israel said its goal is to dismantle Hamas militarily and politically and to bring back Israeli hostages. Of those kidnapped by Hamas, 105 were returned to Israel during a November hostage exchange. A handful of others were unilaterally returned by Hamas or rescued by the IDF. Israel has said more than 30 kidnapped Israelis are dead in Gaza, leaving roughly 100 people still believed to be alive and in the grips of the terrorist organization. 

A woman takes a photo of the Black Lives Matter sign posted outside of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, US, June 6, 2021 (credit: REUTERS/SARAH SILBIGER)

‘We remain in solidarity with Jesus Christ of Nazareth, a Palestinian Jew’

“There must be an immediate and permanent ceasefire between these two communities,” the AME bishops wrote. “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 AME is one of the oldest Black church denominations in the United States. The announcement came out on the birthday of the church’s founder, Richard Allen, who laid the foundation for the church in 1787. Allen was an enslaved person who bought his freedom before founding the church.

The letter was signed by four bishops: Senior Bishop Adam J. Richardson, Bishop Stafford J. N. Wicker, president of the Council of Bishops, and the organization’s two social action chairs, Bishop E. Anne Henning Byfield and Bishop Francine A. Brookins.

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