Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights

Sabeel Statement on Gaza: For the sake of the burning children of Gaza

Written by Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek   
Wednesday, 30 July 2014 20:33

For the sake of the burning children of Gaza

One of the most common refrains repeated by President Obama and other western leaders since the beginning of Israel’s massive military offensive against Gaza is, “Israel has the right to defend itself.”  This refrain is not new and has been declared so often, it has become a cliché.  Some leaders parrot it without even thinking.  Israel has used such clichés as a justification for its actions as well as an excuse to further its carnage.  As of July 29, the death toll in Gaza is over 1100 people, mostly civilians, and includes 243 children (http://www.ochaopt.org).  In addition, around 53 Israeli soldiers and 3 Israeli civilians have died.

Under these circumstances, is Israel able to justifiably claim this right to defend itself? 

First, we should consider that there is no clear “self” for Israel to defend.  Israel steadfastly refuses to define its borders.  Israel’s expansionist policies under the pretext of security have extended its “borders” deep into the Palestinian territories and the Syrian Golan Heights, in contravention of international law.  Furthermore, as a state that is occupying another state that includes Gaza for the last 47 years, Israel stands in violation of international law and humanitarian law.  In light of the fact that Israel has no defined borders and is occupying another state, it is not even possible to define the “self” that Israel has a right to defend.

Second, it is important to note that Israel does not have a moral or legal right to claim that it is “defending” itself so long as it is occupying another state. Let us take the Iraq-Kuwait war as an example.  Suppose after Iraq occupied Kuwait, some of the Kuwaitis started firing rockets at Iraqi cities as their way of forcing Iraq to end its illegal occupation.  In such a circumstance, would we consider Iraq as having a right to “defend” itself?  Or would we rather see Iraq as the instigator and aggressor?   

Morally speaking, so long as international law and the United Nations consider Israel as occupying Palestine, Israel is not defending itself, it is defending its occupation and its Zionist project.  When the occupation ends, Israel possesses the legal and moral right to defend itself, and with that we can all stand.  But so long as it is defending its occupation through collective punishment and disproportionate military might, which is illegal under international law, its claims appear deviously deceitful and hollow. Furthermore, Israel can get away with impunity.

Finally, are Obama’s words about Israel’s security and her right to “defend itself” credible in the presence of the burning children of Gaza?   Is the war Israel is conducting credible in light of these children, held captive and unable to leave Gaza, killed for the crime of being born on the wrong side of an arbitrary border, killed while hiding in their homes, playing soccer on the beach, and taking refuge in UN safe spots?  Nothing can legally or morally legitimize the indiscriminate killing of a captive civilian population. No statements, no claims, no actions, no matter how profound, can hold up in the presence of the burning and torn up little bodies of innocent children.   They are utterly meaningless, reprehensible and blasphemous. 

 

Therefore, it is important to emphasize the following points:

1.     The international community needs to empower the UN to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestine.  We have been caught in a destructive cycle.  Every few years the situation reaches its boiling point, warfare begins, and thousands of Palestinians are killed and injured, mainly civilians – women, children, elderly, and disabled.  The international community has been lethargic, impotent, and unwilling to implement its own resolutions on Palestine.  The international community has the responsibility to resolve this seemingly intractable conflict.  The UN needs to be empowered to do its work.    

2.     International law unequivocally gives occupied people the right to shake off the yoke of the occupier through various means including the armed struggle. While this is true and needs to be remembered in considering this situation, Sabeel has always stood for the moral right of liberation through nonviolent means.       

3.     The Palestinian rockets from Gaza have an important message that Israel refuses to understand and the western powers, especially the United States, are unwilling to comprehend.  The message of the rockets addresses the core issues and the root causes of the problem – STOP THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION AND FREE PALESTINE.  If this does not happen, the war will occur again and again and again, and the casualties will be mainly women and children.  This conflict will continue to flare up, despite anyone’s best efforts to contain it, unless the systemic injustice of occupation is dismantled.  A recent statement from Israeli academics cuts straight to the point: “Israel must agree to an immediate cease-fire and start negotiating in good faith for the end of the occupation and settlements, through a just peace agreement”( http://haimbresheeth.com/gaza/an-open-letter-to-israel-academics-july-13th-2014/statement-by-israeli-academics-july-2014/).

4.     Our plea is to all people of conscience in Israel.  You need to become engaged.  The present political course is driving Israelis and Palestinians further apart and is leading us to an impending disaster worse than we are witnessing today.  We all must stop nurturing extremism.  Israelis and Palestinians have to live together in this land.  God has put us here, we need to share it.  The alternative is untenable.   

5.     A stable peace can only be realized when justice, in accordance with international law, is achieved for both Israel and Palestine.        

 

Let anyone with ears to hear, listen!

 

The Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek

Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, Jerusalem

July 30, 2014

 

 
 

Book Review: A Rabbi's Journey from liberal Zionism to anti-Zionism

Written by Rod Such   
Saturday, 22 June 2013 12:09

Book review: Outspoken rabbi urges American Jews to "look oppression in the face"

21 June 2013

 

If Adam Shatz was still collecting material for his valuable work Prophets Outcast: A Century of Dissident Jewish Writing about Zionism and Israel (2004), he would probably want to consider including an excerpt from the recently publishedWrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity by Brant Rosen.

Many of the contributors selected in Shatz’s work were Jews who opposed politicalZionism from its inception, with some offering an alternative vision of cultural Zionism in which Jews and Arabs would share a common homeland under a neutral state guaranteeing equal rights for all.

Unlike these writers, Rosen initially embraced a “liberal” form of political Zionism but then embarked on a political journey that led him to question and ultimately break with it, the turning point coming with Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s murderous assault on the people of Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009. Read more: Book Review: A Rabbi's Journey from liberal Zionism to anti-Zionism

 

Full Text of UN Committee on the Rights of the Child detailing Israeli torture of Palestinian children

Written by Webmaster   
Saturday, 22 June 2013 11:59

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child issued the following report on June 14, 2013, detailing Israeli human rights abuses of Palestinian children, including torture. The full text of the report can be found at this link:

http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/docs/co/CRC-C-ISR-CO-2-4.pdf

 
   

‘Children killed in their sleep’: Israeli artillery fire hits UN school, killing at least 20

Written by Alex Kane   
Wednesday, 30 July 2014 09:20

Israeli military fire hit a United Nations-run school in Gaza today, killing at least 20 people and injuring an estimated 90 people. The school under attack, called the Abu Hussein girls’ elementary school, is located in the densely-populated Jabaliya refugee camp.

The United Nations Relief Works and Agency (UNRWA), the group that serves Palestinian refugees, issued a stern statement placing the blame for the attack on the Israeli army.

Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN designated shelter in Gaza. Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced,” said UNRWA Secretary General Pierre Krähenbühl. “We have visited the site and gathered evidence. We have analysed fragments, examined craters and other damage. Our initial assessment is that it was Israeli artillery that hit our school, in which 3,300 people had sought refuge.”

Read more on MondoWeiss

 

Israel in Gaza: American Values Corrupted

Written by Gilbert Schramm, (July 29, 2014)   
Wednesday, 30 July 2014 09:16


The horrific Israeli assault on Gaza has exposed the extent to which Israeli pressure has infiltrated and corrupted American institutions. Eventually America will pay an enormous price for this. The presidency, the congress, our commitment to international law, even simple regulatory agencies have all been corrupted. It is an orgy of lies unmatched since the lead up to the invasion of Iraq.

Obama repeats Netanyahu’s stock phrase that, “Israel has a right to defend itself”—support that ensures continued Israeli aggression and war crimes. The US Senate approves S.Res. 498 –blaming Palestinians for the violence and demanding the dissolution of the Palestinian national-unity government—even though the lack of a unity government had previously been used by Israel and the US as an excuse NOT to negotiate with Palestinians. The killing goes on.

Read more: Israel in Gaza: American Values Corrupted

 
   

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