About this Blog

"Ordinary People" is something of an intentional misnomer. I live and work with Palestinians practicing nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation. They are doing things that are hardly "ordinary": committing themselves to active nonviolence and to loving their enemies -- following the commands of One who was anything but ordinary. And yet, the Palestinians with whom I work are also very ordinary -- they are not some kind of spiritual superheroes/superheroines who do things most folks can't do. They are simply ordinary people daily committing themselves to living a higher calling -- a calling of love and active nonviolence.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

An Open Letter to President Obama from Christian Peacemaker Teams: Call on Israel to Stop Its Violence against Palestinians

An Open Letter to President Obama from Christian Peacemaker Teams: Call on Israel to Stop Its Violence against Palestinians

Dear President Obama,

On Tuesday June 15th, you said of the protests in Iran, “When I see peaceful dissent being suppressed, whenever that takes place, it is of concern to me and it is of concern to the American people.” For the last 13 years, Christian Peacemaker Teams have witnessed the brutal suppression of peaceful dissent here in Palestine. In the city of Hebron and the village of At-Tuwani, CPT supports vibrant Palestinian nonviolent resistance to Israel’s military occupation. Every day, Palestinians hold nonviolent demonstrations and defy curfews and closed military zones. They rebuild demolished homes and work their land despite the threat of
arrest and attack. Though their struggle is largely ignored by the media, we find inspiration in the way Palestinians are working for justice and peace.

We are deeply troubled by the way Israeli authorities respond to this nonviolent resistance. On April 22, 2006, Israeli police beat and arrested the mayor of At-Tuwani village and his brother for doing no more than holding a peaceful demonstration against the illegal Israeli wall. CPT has documented the Israeli army demolishing the homes of nonviolent resistance leaders, harassing them at checkpoints, and targeting them for arrest.

Too often, Israeli forces respond to nonviolent resistance with lethal force. In the past nine months, Israeli soldiers have killed four residents of the village of Ni’lin during demonstrations against the Israeli wall. Ahmed Mousa, age 10, was shot in the forehead with live ammunition on July 29, 2008. Yousef Amira, 17, was shot twice with rubber-coated steel bullets in next day. On December 28th 2008, 22-year-old Arafat Rateb Khawaje was shot in the back with live ammunition. The same day, Mohammed Khawaje, 20, was shot in the head with live ammunition. On March 22nd 2009, American demonstrator Tristan Anderson was shot in the face with a tear gas canister. He still lies in the hospital in critical condition. Each of these incidents raises a simple question: why do Israeli soldiers respond to unarmed protesters with deadly force?

When Israel arrests, attacks and kills Palestinians who practice nonviolent resistance, it is saying to the Palestinian people, “No matter your methods of struggle, no matter the justice of your cause, we will not share power with you.” In this context, it is a grave mistake to call, as you did in your Cairo speech, for Palestinians to abandon violence without calling on Israel to do the same. To speak as though there is no Palestinian nonviolent resistance movement is worse than na├»ve; it gives Israel permission to continue to ignore their cries for justice and freedom.

In his recent speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outlined his conditions for peace with Palestine. He described a future Palestinian state that would not be a state at all. Its borders and airspace would be controlled by others. It would be demilitarized while Israel remained free to continue building a nuclear arsenal. This is not a plan for peace. It is a demand that Palestine submit to Israeli domination.

As Prime Minister Netanyahu makes these demands, his government continues to suppress Palestinian nonviolent resistance. Unarmed demonstrators in N’ilin are still met with tear gas and live bullets. In Hebron and At-Tuwani, children on their way to school are still attacked by Israeli settlers and settlements continue to grow. We ask you, President Obama, to demand that Israel stop its campaign of violence against the Palestinian people. We echo the Palestinian nonviolent resistance movement’s calls for justice and human dignity. Only justice will lead to
peace.

In Hope,
Christian Peacemaker Teams-Palestine

3 comments:

brooke said...

thank you. i twittered it.

JamesJohn said...

I have recently become awake to the other side of the story. In the USA we hear so little of this. If there is anything I can do, ask me.
Peace.

Jessica said...

Brooke, thanks for helping to get the word out via Twitter. I really appreciate it!

JamesJohn, thanks for your comment. It is always encouraging to hear from people opening their minds to what is happening here (despite the predominant media coverage in the States.) Actually, there is a lot you can do. The thing our Palestinian partners most ask of us is to "tell the story." So tell the stories that you hear of the Israeli Occupation and Palestinian nonviolent resistance to friends, groups, Senators, Representatives -- wherever and however you can. It may seem small, but Palestinians here seem to have a remarkable steadfastness to making change one small step at a time. And we can too. Blessings!