AME Church demands US cut funding to Israel, accuses IDF of 'mass genocide' in Gaza

The leadership of the African Methodist Episcopal Church has called on the US government to cut funding for Israel, opposing Israel's war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, accusing Isreal of “mass genocide”.

In statement in an email to supporters last week, the leadership of the historically black denomination announced that it was calling on the US to “immediately withdraw all funding and other support from Israel.”

“Since 1954, Israel has shown a deliberate 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 more than 28,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children” , claimed. the denomination, citing figures published by the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry that do not differentiate between combatant and civilian casualties.

“The United States is supporting this mass genocide. This must not continue.”

The war began after Hamas, a terrorist group that has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, launched a surprise attack on civilian communities in southern Israel. Hamas militants killed at least 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took about 240 hostages. Israel launched a military offensive in Gaza with the aim of exterminating Hamas and securing the release of the hostages.

Israeli operations in Gaza have resulted in the deaths of more than 29,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry, which makes no distinction between armed extremists and unarmed civilians. Israel claims at least 10,000 of those killed in Gaza are terrorists, and its forces are trying to avoid civilian casualties in a complex urban environment, according to The Times of Israel.

In their statement, AME bishops called for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, adding that the “cycle of violence between historically wounded peoples will not be dissolved by the creation of more wounds or by weapons of war.”

The statement also accused Israel of trapping “1.6 million desperate Palestinians in the southern Gaza city called Rafah,” denying them access to food, water, shelter and medical care.

“After this torture, they plan to kill them,” the statement claims, a claim related to Israel's recent pledge to launch an offensive in Rafah if hostages are not released. “The United States of America will probably have paid for the weapons they are using. This must not happen.”

Signatories of the statement included AME Church Senior Bishop Adam J. Richardson, AME Council of Bishops President Stafford JN Wicker, President of Social Action Bishop E. Anne Henning Byfield, and Co-President of Social Action Bishop Francine A Brookins.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a pro-Palestinian Muslim advocacy group, celebrated the statement by AME church bishops.

“We welcome this statement of principle from the African Methodist Episcopal Church-Council of Bishops as a reflection of the growing movement nationwide in support of Palestinian humanity and human rights,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper in statement

“The Biden administration must respond to the majority of Americans who seek an end to the Israeli government's ethnic cleansing and genocide by demanding an immediate ceasefire and a just solution to the crisis that recognizes that Palestinians are also human beings worthy of life, liberty and dignity.”

Mark Tooley, president of the theologically conservative Institute on Religion and Democracy, took to social media to denounce the statement by the bishops of the AME Church.

“Amazingly bad anti-Israel statement by AME bishops. No, church founder Richard Allen would not approve. Like all historical denominations, AME is in decline. Non-denominational black churches are typically more Israel-friendly,” he. tweeted

While many faith leaders called for a ceasefire in Gaza, others expressed their support for Israel's military aspirations. In an October letter, more than 50 prominent Israeli and American Christian and Jewish leaders urged President Joe Biden not to pressure Isreal into an immediate ceasefire.

“Israel must do whatever it takes to destroy Hamas,” the letter warns. “It is not enough for Israel to degrade or even defeat this brutal terrorist regime that oppresses its own people. Israel must completely destroy every Hamas terrorist so that this evil can be erased from human history. If the United States pressures Israel into a cease-fire, Israel's enemies will be emboldened, and Israel endangered, long into the future.”

In January, more than 1,000 black priests called on Biden to push for a cease-fire in Gaza.

Pastor Dumisani Washington, the founder and CEO of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, told The Christian Post in November that most African-American pastors and leaders compare the conflict between Israel and Palestine to the Civil Rights Movement, seeing Israel as an oppressor.

Washington noted that black leaders such as the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. claimed to defend Israel's right to exist.

“We have a long history like no other ethnic group in this country, going back more than a century to our connection with Israel and the Jewish people,” Washington said. “But a lot of people aren't aware of that.”

The United States proposed a draft resolution of the United Nations Security Council, which calls for “a temporary cease-fire in Gaza as soon as possible based on the formula of the release of all hostages, and calls for the removal of all barriers to the delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale,” according to to sketch cited by Reuters.

The draft comes as the United States vowed to veto a resolution proposed by Algeria calling for an immediate ceasefire, claiming it would jeopardize discussions on ending the war.

The US draft also warns that an offensive in Rafah “would result in further damage to civilians and their further displacement, including possibly into neighboring countries, which would have serious implications for regional peace and security.”

On Monday all the countries of the European Union signed a joint statement demanding “an immediate humanitarian truce that would lead to a lasting ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages and the provision of humanitarian assistance.”

“We ask the Israeli government not to take military action in Rafah, which would worsen an already catastrophic humanitarian situation and prevent the urgently needed provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance,” the ministers said.

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