The Palestine-Israel Justice Project (PIJP) is part of the Missions Ministry Team of the Minnesota Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. Accusing Israel of committing gross “violations of human rights,” PIJP focuses “primarily on supporting Palestinians in various ways.”
In October 2003, PIJP Chairman Ric Koehn spoke out against Israel’s demolition of a Palestinian house wherein terrorist activities were being organized. The house had been dedicated, by its occupants, to the memory of the late Rachel Corrie of the International Solidarity Movement, a group that invites Westerners to obstruct the anti-terrorist activities of the Israeli Defense Force.
PIJP has endorsed the Declaration Regarding Caterpillar Violations of Human Rights, which reads, in part: “The Caterpillar Corporation’s machinery is directly implicated in grave abuses of human rights and humanitarian law by the Israeli army. … Since 1967, the Israeli army has used Caterpillar equipment … to destroy over 12,000 houses in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, leaving tens of thousands of men, women and children homeless. … The Israeli army [also] uses Caterpillar bulldozers to build a separation wall with significant portions of it inside the Occupied Palestinian Territory. … We call on Caterpillar to stop selling bulldozers to Israel until Israel stops using these machines to destroy Palestinian lives and livelihoods …” Fellow endorsers of this Declaration include: Al-Awda, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Amnesty International, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Code Pink, Global Exchange, the International Solidarity Movement, Jews Against the Occupation, the Middle East Children’s Alliance, the Palestine Solidarity Movement, Pax Christi, Peace Action, SUSTAIN, United For Peace and Justice, U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Veterans for Peace, the War Resisters League, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
During the 1990s, PIJP’s Reverend John Darlington, a Methodist minister, was the pastor to Sara Jane Olson, the onetime member of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) terrorist group. When Olson in 1999 was finally arrested for her SLA involvement, after having lived many years as a fugitive, Darlington publicly defended her. He said that Olson had been a great benefactor to her community, “feeding the hungry, helping to house the homeless, reading to the blind, helping people learn English as their second language. … She loved children, and she wanted to make a difference in their lives.” “Sara is involved in every peace and justice issue that comes along,” added Darlington. “She served meals at a peace camp, played host to a Somali refugee family and performed instructive dramatizations of biblical scenes at church. Her impression upon me and the church is indelibly positive because of her caring and courageous nature.”
In addition to its anti-Israel positions, PIJP also opposes the U.S. military action in Iraq.