Wednesday 16 May 2012

Palestinia​n Prisoners Galvanize the World's Attention Through Nonviolent Action!

This historic action and at least its short-term result might very well be later viewed as a key turning point in the long hard struggle to end the apartheid occupation policies of the state of Israel. Palestinians as a whole now realize the tremendous power they have ignited and harnessed to make a real difference. By uniting together in this collective non-violent action they have finally galvanized the attention of the rest of the world. This action put tremendous pressure on Israel after its leaders realized the implications for a world-wide solidarity hunger strike on May 17 was looming.

A big part of the problem all along resides in the United States which has been pumping incredible amounts of monetary subsidy into Israel for many decades, thus providing essential endorsement -- and, in essence, chiefly aiding and abetting these abhorrent and immoral policies.

Just one example: Did you know that Israel routinely detains and imprisons - and in many cases tortures - hundreds of young Palestinian children each year? Does that shock you? It's been going on for many years. Go here for some well-founded documentation. 

It is high time for churches everywhere to get serious about involvement in the international non-violent BDS movement. As today's news release about the Palestinian prisoners' victory says, "Emphasizing imprisonment as a critical component of Israel’s system of occupation, colonialism and apartheid practiced against the Palestinian people, Palestinian civil society and human rights organizations have called for intensifying the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign to target corporations profiting directly from the Israeli prison system. In particular, we call for action to be taken to hold to account G4S, the world’s largest international security corporation, which helps to maintain and profit from Israel’s prison system, for its complicity with Israeli violations of international law."

Churches and their members' inspired involvement in both the American Civil Rights movement and the South African Anti-Apartheid movement made huge differences, though direct involvement in that was considered controversial. And the situation in Israel is far worse, according to South African leaders who have visited Palestine/Israel.

So, what are some practical steps you can take?

First, I suggest absorbing this critique/commentary and others like it.  Take the time to check out some of the important background content available at the (red) links within that article, to get a handle on the facts, and reflect on how you are feeling and what you are thinking.

Next, get a proposal in front of your congregation's board to at least discuss it. It shouldn't be hard once the facts are clear.  Or find out if it could be put on the agenda of your next annual conference. It only takes a little bit of initiative to overcome the inertia of doing nothing. The courage required is nothing compared to what the Palestinians in West Bank have to muster up every day simply to exist.

Alternatively, go take a first-hand look for yourself: sign up for a delegation with Christian Peacemaker Teams or with EAPPI (the ecumenical version which got started using CPT's delegations as a model.)

As the prophet Micah declared, "What does the Lord require of you, but to love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly with your God."

Clair Hochstetler, Canberra, Australia
Member of AustralAsia Working Group of Christian Peacemaker Teams -and-
Anabaptist Association of Australia and New Zealand

P.S.  At the least, consider sharing a copy of this - or a link to this blog post - with your own network of colleagues and friends.

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