UNJPPI National Gathering October 19 – 21, 2012
The first annual gathering of the Network was held on October 19-21 in Toronto at the United Church offices, 3250 Bloor St. W.
Supported by worship that engaged our hearts, minds and spirits we accomplished many things.
1. We reviewed our structure and agreed on the thrust of the mission statement. We wrote General Council Executive to clarify our relationship with the church and to find ways to collaborate.
2. We built commitment to the work of the network, and have action suggestions related to our four teams.
· Education Team: Co-leaders: Kimberly Roy and Pat Mercer
· Advocacy Team: Leader: George Bartlett (looking for Co-Leader?)
· Partnership Team: Co-leaders: Dianne Baker and Jan McIntyre
· Communication Team: Leader: Curtis Marwood with support from Desmond Parsons, Diane Blanchard and Donald Dale.
3. We built partnerships. It was helpful to have the Moderator with us for 6 hours on Saturday. We heard from representatives of Canadian Friends of Sabeel, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle-East, KAIROS, Muslim Unity. Bruce Gregersen from General Council staff also spoke to us. We continue to benefit from the experience of the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. and appreciated the wisdom of Carol Hylkema. We spent time with Independent Jewish Voices members on Sunday afternoon. And Brian McIntosh spoke at the IJV meeting on Saturday.
4. We continued our personal learnings. Some of us were able to take in 2 talks at IJV. Yakov Rabkin has an excellent paper entitled “Religious Roots of a Political Ideology: Judaism and Christianity at the Cradle of Zionism”. We watched an articulate and engaging speech by Miko Pelad outlining the history of Israel from 1947 and the conversion of his family to peace-making following the death of his 13 year old niece. (A link to this video is on our website).
5. We made progress on a strategy for economic action, and hope to mount a limited campaign by late November.
6. We supported Eva as Jim Manly was taken prisoner by the Israeli government and wrote the Moderator asking for a public statement.
We want to ask you to get involved, to find your niche in the work of the network as we seek to end the occupation.
1. Curtis is going to update our mailing list. Please respond to his request for information which you will be receiving.
2. We welcome more people to become involved in the 4 teams. Think about your gifts and contact the particular team leaders.
3. Help us build the network in your area of the country. Send new names to Curtis at email@example.com
4. We are looking for connectors in each Conference who will build a list of activists on this issue and be able to pass information on to them as well as to the Conference and Presbytery structures. At this time we need someone from ANCC, Bay of Quinte, Saskatchewan and Manitou Conferences. Do you know someone who would be good at networking in one of these places? If some please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with their contact information.
5. The Education Team would like to receive annotated resources for education. Send a brief note about a book, film, study guide, article or website telling why it is helpful to email@example.com
6. We may set up a writing team to respond quickly to particular issues. Do you have the gifts and interest to work on this team? firstname.lastname@example.org
7. Can you work with the Advocacy Team on boycott implementation? We are working out a whole strategy but we would like to have some suggestions for people prior to Christmas so we need some folk with energy to put into this now. Contact Brian at email@example.com
Our principles are:
· We will work with our partners on this including IJV, KAIROS, and CJPME.
· We want to identify a product that is available across Canada. We are leaning towards Ahava which is sold in Rexall. It has also been identified by the Presbyterian Network in the U.S. and by BIAC in Vancouver.
· In order to have something that people in small towns can do we want to initiate a letter-writing campaign to the federal government to get the settlement products labelled. This is important as the Israel Canadian Free Trade Agreement is being re-negotiated soon.
· We want solid research behind any call we make.
· Prior to the Christmas season we want one or two products identified.
· We want the action to be based in United Church policy.
· We need to create a many-pronged strategy and that will be the work of the Advocacy Team in connection with the Co-ordinating Team.
UNJPPI National Gathering September 6 – 8, 2013
33 enthusiastic and dedicated people from right across the country gathered in the lovely town and Learning Centre of Naramata, BC September 6 – 8 to attend the second national UNJPPI annual meeting and conference. Only a couple of the UC’s 11 Conferences weren’t represented, and while 10 of the participants were from BC, over half were from east of Manitoba. 7 former ecumenical accompaniers were present, as were representatives of five partner organizations.
The program concentrated on two goals in particular: a) understanding and supporting the upcoming Unsettling Goods campaign, with a good portion of Saturday programming devoted to that, and b) rejuvenating, educating and building up the work of the Network itself. On Friday evening we gathered over dinner, and then began with a worship time together. We then discussed how we’re to move from concerns to action, with a number of ideas generated. Mordecai Briemberg, longtime Vancouver activist, closed by sharing some wisdom about “Being Courageous When We Speak Out.” Following the evening session we enjoyed a wine and cheese reception hosted by Naramata Centre staff.
Saturday morning was entirely devoted, after a time of worship, to learning about the background and plans for the Unsettling Goods campaign, which will be a letter-writing and advocacy campaign rather than a protest-based campaign. The three products – Ahava, Sodastream, and Keter – and the four retailers – Canadian Tire, Walmart, The Bay, and ??? – have been chosen, and campaign materials are going through the administrative approvals within the GC office at present. It is hoped to have the materials in the hands of UC people by late October, and to proceed with a national launch sometime in late November, just in time for Advent, though these time estimates are still tentative. The UC is undergoing due diligence with the companies and retailers prior to releasing the campaign materials.
It was decided, at the end of the weekend, to have an enhanced Unsettling Goods advocacy group do the coordination and planning for UNJPPI, and that group will communicate with the Network when more is known about the release date of the campaign materials. It was also stressed that there will be a national spokesperson for the campaign, and that UNJPPI members can’t speak for the UC. It was decided, though, that we should use the materials and that we can speak on behalf of UNJPPI in support of the campaign, and that we can – and should! – demonstrate, advocate, etc. with tactics beyond those the UC officially supports. We also agreed that local/regional efforts may target only one or two products, and/or different retailers, depending on the scope/capacity of the people on the ground in their locations, though it was acknowledged that Sodastream seems to be an agreed upon common target of most groups, including most of those which belong to the recently founded Canadian Boycott Coalition for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel. More will be coming on the campaign in the near future.
After a lunch break, Saturday afternoon we heard reports from attending partner organizations, including CanPal-Net, IJV (two people, including part-time staff Tyler Levitan), CJPME, Kairos, a representative of the Anglican Church of Canada, etc. We also heard very moving stories from the seven EA’s in attendance, including what surprised them the most and what dream they had for the Palestinian people. We also broke into regional groupings and brainstormed about what actions we’d be prepared to take in our regions, and reported back to the larger group.
On Saturday evening after dinner we were graced with a song spontaneously written over the course of the day from Tony ???. We then continued with the reporting back, and decided that, in addition to the Unsettling Goods campaign, a common theme for UNJPPI for the next year was the need for educational material, both in the form of a multi-optional workshop outline (for various audiences, from basic to advanced) and in the form of a video that features as many EAs as possible telling their stories about acting in solidarity, what they experienced, etc. A few people were to follow-up on possible funding through the UC for the latter, while the former could be done by a combination of the education team and/or the potential part-time staff person, which we all agreed we needed (see discussion and budget below).
We then enjoyed an interactive workshop led by Sara Stratton of Kairos, in which various difficult scenarios, from a loud Presbytery opponent of the campaign to an uninformed editor of a church newsletter, were outlined and groups were to dramatize how to respond. We then tied up loose ends, including the naming of a new Treasurer (Susan Starkman, from Toronto, working with Brian, a signing officer) to replace Karin Brothers, a new Coordinating Team member, Michaël Séguin, and a new Co-Chair, Steve Berube of the Maritimes, to replace Brian, who steps down after two years but remains on the Coordinating Team. After the plenary session two videos, The Gatekeepers and Five Broken Cameras, were shown for anyone who wanted to watch either, and information about how to obtain or borrow either will also soon be shared.
Sunday morning we spoke about communication within UNJPPI, making plans for a more frequent newsletter as well as congratulating Curtis on the great job he’s done in creating and maintaining the website and offering consistent updates to the Network. And we put forward an ambitious budget of $40,000, including about $35,000 to hire a staff person either full-time for part of the year, or about half-time for a year, depending on what the identified need is, to be determined by the Coordinating Team. Enthusiasm was high for this, and after some inspirational pledges by a few, an envelope was passed, and about $9,000 was raised or pledged from the attending group! A fundraising letter will be sent to the Network shortly, and some of the rest of the budget may come from other sources, including within the UC (Seeds of Hope, etc.?).
The gathering closed with a communion service in the beautiful chapel, and folks left feeling energized and committed to being UNJPPI over the next year, until we meet again next year, at a location to be determined by the Coordinating Team.