Pro-Palestinian reverend speaks in Rochester despite local Jewish opposition

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — A pro-Palestinian activist spoke at an alternative location after an upstate New York divinity school revoked a speaking invitation over death threats and local Jewish opposition.

Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York, disinvited Rev. Graylan Hagler, a senior minister of the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, the Democrat & Chronicle reported last week.

He spoke Thursday night at Rochester’s German House under the auspices of Jewish Voice for Peace-Rochester and Christians Witnessing for Palestine, both local organizations on the topic “Connecting the Dots: Ferguson to Palestine.”

“I’m standing here to lift up the dignity and rights of all people in the world,” he told the some 250 audience members, according to the Jewish Voice for Peace. “We have to stand up and tell the truth:  Black lives matter, Palestinian lives matter, Palestine matters!  We need to demand justice!”

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According to roc4israel, a local pro-Israel group, Hagler, who serves as senior minister of Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, in Washington earlier this year at a Jewish Voice for Peace rally condemned “pimply-faced white boys in Israeli uniforms.”

The group said Hagler met with then-Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2010, and in 2012 Hagler stated at a panel discussion that he is working to “disengage” Christians from Hebrew Scripture.

Colgate Rochester President Marvin McMickle said in a statement that “after certain concerning facts came to light and after consultation with other members” of the divinity school’s administration, he notified Witnessing for Palestine that “we are no longer prepared to allow this lecture to take place” on campus.

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